CategoriesProperty Update

Table Talk Pies Begins Construction on New Facility

The coronavirus pandemic has done all it could to dismantle Worcester’s Renaissance. Dozens of restaurants across the city navigate through uncertain futures. Concert and performance venues have been emptied for months. College campuses are vacant.

On Thursday, though, Worcester fought back with a pair of ceremonies that injected life into the city’s future.

City officials celebrated as the final beam of steel became part of Polar Park in the morning. A few hours later, many of the same faces broke ground on Table Talk Pies’ 120,000-plus square foot bakery within the former Crompton & Knowles Complex in the Main South Neighborhood.

“Its perfect bookends to a great day in Worcester,” City Manager Edwards Augustus Jr. said. “I’ll tell you, 2020 has been a sucky year in Worcester, a sucky year in the country between COVID and all sorts of other challenges, but it’s so nice to have days like today where we can remind ourselves of all the progress that’s going on in the city.”

Despite all the speed bumps 2020 laid out in front of each project, officials said Polar Park is scheduled to be complete on time in April of 2021, and Table Talk Pies’ facility should open in August of 2021.

When the company announced the project in January, the original completion date for the new bakery was June of next year.

The delays haven’t soured Table Talk Pies owner Harry Kokkinis.

“The one advantage we have is people love to eat pies. No matter it’s good times or bad times,” Kokkinis said. “Pies are a comfort food.”

Kokkinis compared the pandemic to the Great Recession of 2008 when the company continued to invest in itself.

“As long as the virus doesn’t impact people’s desire to eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, I think we’ll be OK,” Kokkinis said.

As the city prepares to climb out of the pandemic in 2021, Table Talk Pies will be adding at least 50 jobs as it moves to its new home.

Table Talk says it plans to employ 180 full-time operation staff at the new location, including 130 current full-time production staff that will relocate from the Kelley Square bakery. More than 60% of Table Talk’s employees live in Worcester.

As part of the Tax Increment Financing policy with the city, all employees would earn $15 an hour within six months after beginning at the company.

“This day is not just a groundbreaking for a building, it’s groundbreaking for opportunities,” Augustus said. “There’s going to be decades of people who are going to come to work every day at Table Talk and with the paychecks they’re going to earn coming here every day, they’re going to put their kids through college. They’re going to buy a house. They’re going to do all the things that are a part of the American dream.”

Table Talk Pies was founded in 1924 in Worcester by Theodore Tonna and Angelo Cotsidas, two Greek immigrants who came to the U.S. looking to better the lives of their families.

Kokkinis said the company never wants to lose sight of its roots, including its current home. The company has started to speak with parties potentially interested in the Green Street location, nestled next to Polar Park.

“Now that we finally figure out our home and stuff, we’re starting to look at that a bit,” Kokkinis said. “All I know is we want to make sure Table Talk still has a presence in Kelley Square and that our store is still there. That old building, 153 Green Street, that means a lot to us.”

Table Talk’s new home is seven acres of blank canvas ready for demolition and construction.

As it searched for the location, Kokkinis’ mother had only one request: that Table Talk Pies remain in Worcester.

“I can finally go back to telling my mom, ‘I listened to you this time,’” Kokkinis said.

CategoriesProperty Update

Table Talk breaks ground for new headquarters in South Worcester

Steven H. Foskett Jr. Telegram & Gazette Staff @SteveFoskettTG

WORCESTER – Drawing on the South Worcester neighborhood’s rich manufacturing history, Table Talk Pies officials Thursday afternoon reminded the audience gathered on the cobblestone-lined section of Tainter Street that its new 130,000-square-foot headquarters will still be making things – small, round things that taste really good.

Joined by local and city officials, Table Talk kicked off construction of its vast new manufacturing space that will stretch across 8 acres in the neighborhood with a traditional groundbreaking ceremony. Most of the buildings at the former Crompton & Knowles facility have been torn down, and seven different parcels attached to various owners have been combined to make the project work. Nearby Gardner Street – the facility will be called the Gardner Street Bakery – will be lowered under the railroad bridge to accommodate expected tractor-trailer traffic.

Table Talk President Harry Kokkinis said construction equipment is here and ready to start digging the foundation of the new facility. He said in just about a year, the facility should be complete.

Kokkinis said the goal for Table Talk in its search for a new headquarters was always to stay in Worcester, but “pad-ready” sites that could accommodate the company’s needs were hard to come by. He said it took some convincing, but working with the city and the state on the various moving parts of the project, including a tax increment financing deal and funding to facilitate the Gardner Street redesign, is coming to fruition. Around 70,000 square feet of old, rundown factory buildings have been demolished, he noted.

“This is 8 acres of open space in the middle of Worcester,” he said. “Where else could you find it?”

Mayor Joseph M. Petty said the project is an extension of industrial and community-level progress the neighborhood has made over the years, including the South Worcester Industrial Park, in which Table Talk already operates a facility.

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. noted the project is an example of the city helping facilitate development outside the downtown area – he said that’s an unfair criticism, considering its efforts to attract projects like Table Talk and the biomanufacturing initiatives on Belmont Street.

“We are cooking on all burners here in the city of Worcester,” Augustus said.

He said that around the time the Pawtucket Red Sox were negotiating with the city for what would become Polar Park – right next door to Table Talk’s current Kelley Square headquarters – the city approached Table Talk to explore the idea of moving away from Kelley Square, where game-day crowds and traffic could impact the company’s ability to get trucks out on the road.

District 2 City Councilor Candy F. Mero-Carlson said the Table Talk project will help keep good jobs in the city accessible to city residents.

Worcester Telegram