Article by Eric H.
For the next several posts we’ll be featuring New England downtowns, and some of their locally-owned stores.
Today, we feature Walpole, Mass., a pleasant, friendly small town located between Boston, Mass., and Providence, R.I. The two-block downtown is quite attractive and spacious featuring historic buildings and homes (Common St.), a large town common with a stone gazebo, beautiful Memorial Pond with a fountain, a large parcel of land with another fountain dedicated to local fallen Soldier Andrew Bavevich, a wonderful new public library, ball fields and open spaces between School and Main Streets, a fantastic seasonal Farmers Market, and many, unique locally-owned stores.
Some of Walpole’s most interesting retail stores, restaurants and other businesses:
All About Quilts at 958 Main St, provides services for quilt-making.
Betro Pharmacy at 965 Main St. – Owner Peter Betro knows virtually all of his customers (and addresses) by name at this old-time, locally-owned pharmacy. Nice to see such dedicated customer service here — in the best sense, it’s almost like returning to another era!
The Clayroom at 930 Main St. – A great place to spend an afternoon and paint your own pottery. You’ll see people of all ages here coming up with some colorful and creative masterpeices!
Replays at 955 East St. -- You’ll find just about anything “sports” from skates to baseball gloves at this old-fashioned, slightly worn-looking but charming and packed to the gills consignment shop.
Gypsy Boutique at 949 Main St. – A small but jam-packed clothing store, including designer merchandise, at some very nice prices. You don’t see too many stores like this around anymore in an otherwise big-box superstore world.
Walpole Music at 942 East St. – A fabulous store with an excellent variety of musical instruments at low-prices and a network of musicians dedicated to teaching you how to play your chosen instrument through class time.
Mimi’s Corner at Main and Common Sts. – With a worn Coca Cola sign out front, this is an long established Walpole variety store where kids like to frequent after school for candy bars and slush. Mimi’s also seems to have a knack for turning out lottery and scratch ticket winners!
Harney Dance Academy at 945 Main St. — One of the country’s best Irish step dance instruction schools, with groups going on to U.S. and world finals.
Watson’s Candies at 761 Main St. – Just outside downtown Walpole, Watson’s is synonymous with fine chocolates, including some terrific fudge. Also the home of Scoops, an ice cream stand featuring Richardson’s Ice Cream. Most recently, Watson’s opened an indoor ice cream dining room — absolutely charming with a Victorian feel, several old-fashioned tables, and a piano
Secret Haven, at 21 West St., has some lovely home furnishings in a relaxed environment, while Dee’s Nimble Needles, at 15 West St., offers a huge selection of hand-knitting yarns such as baby and sock yarns, fine luxury yarns, cashmeres and handbag yarns.
Locally-Owned Full Service Restaurants:
Finnegan’s Wake at 7 Glenwood Ave. – Hard-to-find, cozy downstairs Irish pub serving a great variety of drinks and a fantastic roast turkey dinner, Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness beef stew and fish and chips. Owner Tom Kirwin shows a lot of pride of ownership and, consequently, the locals show up in faithful numbers. A place you can call your own secret discovery and one to hang out at a leisurely pace, given its comfortable surroundings and friendly atmosphere.
Ginjo at 889 Main St. – High-end Asian food in a sleek but causal atmosphere serving Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisine. About as good as it gets outside of Chinatown!
The Raven’s Nest at 998 Main St. — Formerly the Barleycorn and Paddock bars, The Raven’s Nest restaurant has been beautifully restored with hand-painted bricks on the wall, high ceilings, a fireplace, long handsome bar and attractive outdoor dining deck. The food (lunch and dinner) is outstanding, including pistachio chicken, apple goat cheese stuffed salmon, fish and chips, Shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, maple chicken, burgers and chicken pesto sandwich. Owner Mark McAuliffe is from Ireland and set out to create a restaurant that replicates the authentic Irish pubs of his homeland. People I know who have been to Ireland — and myriad Irish pubs — say that he has succeeded in doing so. Great place to catch football games! Read full review here on The Raven’s Nest
The Coffee Perch at 1006 Main St. — Raven’s Nest Owners Mark and Maura McAuliffe had a vision to bring a classic coffeehouse to downtown Walpole, and did so in grand style. This small but charming spot features coffees from a local roaster and fabulous salads, soups, wraps, bagels, pastries and other desserts. Such a nice atmosphere here including the art exhibitions on the wall, and picture windows overlooking the beautiful downtown Walpole town common. It’s also an ideal spot for casually enjoying a food and/or drink selection while surfing the Internet on your laptop or tablet. Read full review on The Coffee Perch
Jalapeno’s at 960 Main St. — This large Mexican bistro delivers some fantastic Yucatan cuisine and has a large margarita menu. A nice addition to the downtown and one really of the best Mexican restaurants we’ve been to in the Boston area! Read full review on Jalapeno’s
Conrad’s Restaurant at 905 Main St. — This beautifully appointed 5,000 sq. ft. family-style restaurant features some of the best steak tips in the Boston area. The other selections are excellent, too, including fish and chips, seafood platters, chicken parm and pizza. The bar area has a terrific look and feel — a first-choice spot to catch a game on one of the many wide screen televisions. Conrad’s Walpole is every bit as good as the original Norwood Conrad’s location.
The Crease at 944 Main St. — Perhaps the only restaurant with a hockey theme in Massachusetts, The Crease features a bubble hockey game, hockey memorabilia on the walls, a full bar, jukebox, plenty of wide screen televisions and very solid food selections — especially the burgers, pizza, paninis and New England clam chowder.
Farmer in the Dell at 935 East St. — The latest addition to the growing downtown Walpole dining scene, the Farmer in the Dell specializes in farm-to-table cuisine. Sourcing their foods from farms, whenever possible, the Farmer in the Dell fills a much-needed niche in downtown Walpole by offering a restaurant genre that is more common in the city. The fresh homemade-style soups, salad, sandwiches, baked goods, take-home dinners are really terrific! Read full review on the Farmer in the Dell
Napper Tandy’s Walpole at 1065 Main St. — Formerly Beckett’s, Napper Tandy’s is scheduled to open some time in January 2014 with an first-floor Irish pub, separate lounge area, and a 6,000 sq. ft. downstairs games area including pool tables, full-service food availability and a bar. Napper Tandy’s also has current locations in Norwood, Mass., and Roslinedale, Mass. I have been to the Norwood location and if the Walpole spot is anything like that, the downtown will have another dining gem!
Red Cherry Frozen Yogurt at 1049 Main St. — This bright, colorful, spacious, welcoming self-serve frozen yogurt spot features more than 20 flavors and 50 toppings. With a high quality of frozen yogurt, excellent customer service, wide screen televisions for entertainment, and a constant changing of flavors to keep things fresh and interesting, this is my favorite frozen yogurt place in the Boston suburbs! Read full review on Red Cherry
Although not a full-service restaurant, consider visiting the First Sandwich Shop at 975 Main St. Owner and all-around good guy Tom Dugdale keeps the prices quite low with “Meal Deals” at $4.99 (sandwich, chili, pizza, etc., with drink, and chips or cookies) and a large cheese pizza at $6.99! We really like the sandwiches, salads, chili and pizza at this long-time Walpole landmark, in business since 1969. This small storefront does has limited seating in pleasant surroundings, including plenty of dinosaur designs and collectibles. Turns out that Dugdale is an expert on dinosaurs, having once appeared on the David Letterman Show!
Westbury Farms at 925 Main St. is tucked away in the new CVS shopping plaza, downtown, and retains a sense of an old-school “townie” spot with counter and booths, an established wait staff, locals talking it up with each other, and some well-prepared breakfast and lunch staples like pancakes, clam chowder, club sandwiches and burgers. This is your classic hometown dining spot!
Downtown Walpole — much like the town itself — almost seems like a relaxing getaway despite being located within the often congested, often overdeveloped Boston area. I’d also recommend that anyone wanting to open a business consider downtown Walpole. I’ve seen the friendly and dedicated business owners with a vision, proper budgeting, and good business plan stay here for years. What you would get in return is a community-oriented town with decent hard-working residents frequenting your store.
Walpole has a few storefronts ready to be filled. If interested, I’d recommend calling Stephanie Mercandetti, the Walplole Economic Development and Grants Officer, at 508.660.7352 or by email at email@example.com.
Below, view some additional photos of downtown Walpole to get an idea of the area and its shops. Look forward to you shopping or doing business here!
Editor’s note: the author of this article has no vested interest in Walpole and merely writes from a personal and enthusiastic perspective!