Tavern/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
It's All About the Food at the Depot Street Tavern in Milford,
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.
created on 3/11/2018.
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Super Steak Panini from the Depot Street Tavern.
Adam Hicks quit his job several years ago at a worldwide food
co -workers losing their jobs after dedicating their lives to long
"I didn't want that," said Hicks. "I didn't want to waste the rest of
my life to a unloyal employer!"
One day out with friends trying to find a good restaurant for
sandwiches in Milford, Mass., Hicks came across a vacant dining spot --
Crivillo's Crossing, predominantly a popular breakfast and lunch place
in business from 1938 to 2013. He didn't solve the sandwich search
challenge at that given moment, but Hicks
took a fancy to the building located on a densely-populated
working class Milford side street by the railroad tracks and near
former shoe factories. He then decided to open his own restaurant at
"I didn't know where to go with friends to sit down for some good
sandwiches," said Hicks, 35, an Uxbridge, Mass., resident. "We had
a place, so I decided to do something about that."
Enter the Depot Street Tavern in 2014 where word-of-mouth caught on
quickly about Hick's flair for creating basic pub food favorites going
far beyond the norm. Customers wait up to two hours on a weekend to
dine and drink in the bustling, friendly, slightly cramped but
comfortable and cozy bar and restaurant with 40 seats in the main
section and 20 in the indoor/outdoor deck addition. Even on a weekday
when seating is ample at most surrounding restaurants, the Depot Street
Tavern consistently has lines out the door. No reservations are taken
here, but locals have no reservations about coming to the Depot Street
Waiting in line for lunch at the Depot Street Tavern.
Once inside, the unpretentious atmosphere feels like home
with its small dining room and Hick's "stuff" all over the place --
collectibles, antiques, street signs, Jimmy Buffet signs, etc. Lately,
customers have been contributing to the collection.
"In addition to all of my useless stuff from home, people have been
bringing their own stuff in -- even a lacrosse stick," said Hicks.
"People come here in the morning and leave something on the steps."
Dining room and bar area with plenty of signs at the Depot
Hicks, 35, comes across as affable, funny, and sometimes with no
filter, but he is dead serious about his profession. He started working
in the restaurant industry at age 13, at the now-closed Cocke'n
Kettle Restaurant in Uxbridge. Hicks quickly learned the profession at
old school restaurant known for its traditional New England food,
plenty of cheese and crackers and rolls before the main meal, weddings,
receptions, and lounge singer entertainment. Graduating Blackstone
Valley Regional Vocational Technical School in
Upton, Mass., as a culinary student, Hicks continued his passion for
the food service industry after high school by attending Johnson and
Wales University in Providence, R.I., where he earned an
undergraduate degree in culinary arts. He also picked up significant
"food made from scratch" knowledge by working at the locally legendary Oliva's
Market in Milford for several years.
Translated to the Depot Street Tavern's success, Hick's earned
Worcester's Best Chef Award in
2015, 2016 and 2107 and the WXLO-FM 104.5
Worcester Perfect Palate Award.
With four sous chefs on site, and an
efficient and friendly wait staff, the Depot Street Tavern not only
serves outstanding upgrades on salads, appetizers, steaks, chops,
chicken, seafood and Italian dishes, but makes sure to do so on a
"There's no book on how to do things," said Hicks, about creating food.
"I just like to put a spin on things, but, most importantly, to keep
customer happy and coming back. And we hire people who care."
Locals have taken notice around the Milford, Mendon, Franklin and
Uxbridge areas, but also those from afar. Tom and Anne Kerrigan,
of East Bridgewater, drove over an hour with friends to sample some of
the Depot Street Tavern offerings.
"It's a small space, but super friendly and the food was great!" said
"I had the buffalo chicken mac and cheese and it was very good," said
Adam's love for food and a natural, "'You-can't-teach-this-stuff" gift
for culinary creativity gives customers the best of both worlds -- that
is, a neighborhood joint to enjoy popular comfort foods, but also a
place where a master chef and his chefs are not just just content with
Because the Depot Street Tavern is basically Adam's life (he works up
to 100 hours a week), that commitment leads to an ever-evolving
offering of comfort foods to die for...
Depot Street Tavern owner Adam Hicks brings out lunch from the
Appetizers suggest the beginnings of a special
dining experience, resembling nothing like the paint-by-numbers,
generic offerings seen at so many restaurants of this genre. For those
tired of basic fried calamari appetizers, the Kung
Pao Calamari adds sticky Asian sauce, julienne peppers and carrots,
fresh herbs and chopped peanuts served over wild arugula. The popular
Polenta Sticks features house made Parmesan and black pepper polenta
matchsticks lightly fried and served with a lemon and herb aioli for
dipping. The equally popular Loaded Nachos brings this appetizers
to the next level with house fried potato chips piled high with chili
mojo pork, melted cheddar and topped with olives, shredded
lettuce, jalapeños, chipotle BBQ and cilantro cream. And then there's
the Crispy Buffalo Chicken Poutine Fries with hand cut fries smothered
in melted cheddar jack, bleu cheese and cheese curds -- then drizzled
with buffalo cheese sauce and topped with crispy buffalo chicken...
Crispy buffalo chicken poutine fries from the Depot Street Tavern.
Photo source: Depot Street Tavern.
Homemade soups and salads also serve as wonderful precursors
to the main meal -- or perfectly acceptable and satiating as
standalones. Like with most dishes, diners can order to
specification like the customer who ordered a salad with salmon and
Salad with salmon and pesto from the Depot Street Tavern.
Hicks likes to refer to sandwiches as "handhelds" as a more specific
description, but one would definitely need big hands to handle the
ample servings like this Reuben accompanied by hand-cut onion rings...
Reuben from the Depot Street Tavern. Photo credit: Depot Street
The Super Steak Panini, as pictured at the beginning of
story, offers an incredible portion of perfectly cooked shaved rib eye
steak with sauteed onion, peppers and prosciutto -- and then topped
melted provolone cheese, house made peppercorn sauce and a side of au
dipping. And, of course, served with hand cut potato chips, made every
day at the Depot Street Tavern. One more look for an added perspective
and appetite builder...
Super Steak Panini with homemade, hand cut potato chips.
The Old Fashioned Burger -- coming in at a half pound -- has a
mouthwatering effect with ground hand-formed chuck on a
roll with arugula, farm fresh tomato and American cheese. The next
level of burgers: The Depot Burger served in the same size but with
caramelized red onion jam, aged Vermont cheddar cheese and crispy
applewood bacon served on a Portuguese muffin. In a completely
twist on a burger, however there's the
Porketta Burger -- porketta is a traditional Milford favorite (spiced
pork). This masterpiece features ground pork seasoned with
roasted garlic, cracked black pepper and chili flakes topped with
shaved fennel salad and provolone cheese on a homemade roll supplied by
a local bakery.
Burger from the Depot Street Tavern.
Even the hot dogs go beyond the standard...
Hot dog plate from the Depot Street Tavern.
Dinners continue the over-the-top theme, including superior versions of
fish and chips, mac and cheese, steak tips, chicken Parmesan and
creative selections like the wild mushroom and cheddar meatloaf that
includes a bacon compote. The Three Hour Pasta Bolognese features a
house made ragu of beef and pork that is simmered for three hours with
wine. San Marazano tomatoes, fresh herbs, onions and celery. Finished
with a drop of cream and house made garlic bread on the side, this meal
could probably serve two people.
Chicken parm dinner from the Depot Street Tavern. Photo source:
Depot Street Tavern.
Two dinners have earned awards in the Worcester Best Chef Competitions.
The Homemade Porketta Ravioli is filled with porketta ravioli tossed
with a ragu of wild boar, tomato, wild mushrooms, onions, celery,
garlic, carrots and red wine. The dish is simmered for hours and
finished with cream, Romano cheese and fresh fennel. The Pecan and Sage
Crusted Chicken with Strawberry Butter features pecan and sage breaded
chicken served over homemade sweet potato and wilted Swiss chard -- and
then topped with melted strawberry butter and fresh sage.
Fridays offer the lobster grilled cheese with ingredients around the
lobster and cheese varying from time to time.
Ever-changing blackboard specials are plentiful and continue Hick's
creative vision, while the standard menu rotates two times a year.
Additionally, the Depot Street Tavern offers breakfast on Saturday from
7 a.m.-12 noon and Sunday from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. that includes
egg dishes, pancakes, waffles and specialty cocktails.
S'mores pancakes served at the weekend breakfast at the Depot
Street Tavern. Photo source: Depot Street Tavern.
Spicy Bloody Mary served at the Depot Street Tavern weekend
breakfast. Photo source: Depot Street Tavern.
Even with the high quality selections served in big portions, the Depot
Street Tavern offers tremendous value for the money with most huge
sandwiches coming in around $10, dinners between $15 and $20 and kids
meals between $4 and $6. Some meals cost more, but Hicks feels
gratitude no matter what customers order.
"I am happy with whatever people order," said Hicks. "I get no more
enjoyment seeing someone buy a 30 dollar steak than a 10 dollar
Desserts vary, but are homemade (either made on the premises or brought
in from a local bakery) while the beer and wine selection is vast. A
rotating selection of 20 bottled beers including lagers, IPAs and
Porters, as well as 12 selections of craft beers on tap, highlight the
No shortage of beer at the Depot Street Tavern.
Hicks also gives back to the community, including donating 1,600 lbs of
food to local food pantries. He loves Milford and the close-knit feel.
"People care about their community here," said Hicks. "There's a sense
of pride in Milford. Lots of people graduate Milford High School, go to
college or work, and then come back to live here. It is basically a
collar town with lots of history and lots of good people."
With the increasing crowds and tight dining quarters, as well as a
growing catering business, does Hicks plan on eventually moving the
Depot Street Tavern?
NO!", said Hicks. "This restaurant is going nowhere (geographically).
This is our home."
Hicks recently opened a second restaurant, however: Maddi's Cookery & TapHouse at the
former The Perfect Game site in Worcester's up-and-coming Canal District. Named after his son Matthew, nine, and daughter,
Addison, two, Maddi's extends upon Hick's high-end yet affordable
approach to sandwiches, salads, dinners and drinks.
The two restaurants truly validate Hicks' decision to leave the corporate world to start his own businesses.
"I made the right decision leaving the food service job," said Hicks.
"I love what I am doing and this is what keeps me going."
Depot Street Tavern is located at 45
Depot St., Milford MA. Tel. 508-488-6844. Web site: http://www.depotstreettavern.com (includes full menu). Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/depotsttavern. Twitter address: http://www.twitter.com/DepotStTavern. Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/Depot_St_Tavern.
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