One Eleven Chop House Spruces Look With Renovations

Telegram & Gazette
December 2022

When you want the best of everything in a restaurant, whether food, wine, spirits, or service, the One Eleven Chop House on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester has built its reputation on delivering the goods. It’s a destination restaurant if there ever was one.

The holiday season not only brings a festive ambiance to the Chop House, but also a newly refreshed look that sets the stage for an incredible dining experience.

Co-owners Caitlyn Carolan and her husband, Keith Carolan, worked with architects and design planners on a project that began with removing walls around kitchen space no longer needed or used. A new back wall behind the bar was described as the “ta- da” moment of the renovation by someone close to the project. The restaurant also has new furniture, lighting, flooring, draperies and interior painting.

One Eleven Chop House is part of Worcester Restaurant Group, founded by Caitlyn Carolan’s parents, Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist, who moved into an advisory role in 2021, handing the business off to their daughter and her husband. Caitlyn Carolan worked in various management roles at the company for 14 years while Keith Carolan had been Worcester Restaurant Group’s beverage director and VIA’s general manager. Worcester Restaurant Group includes The Sole Proprietor, 118 Highland St., celebrating 43 years in business and VIA Italian Table, 89 Shrewsbury St., observing its 15th anniversary. Mark Hawley, an award-winning chef, is Worcester Restaurant Group Executive Chef and Culinary Director.

Carolan explained how her parents opened the Chop House in 1999 with the goal of making it a quintessential version of a New York steakhouse. “A complete luxury experience,” said Carolan. “We always keep it in mind.”

Plans to change the restaurant’s interior began with the unused kitchen space, according to Carolan, who said chefs work only in the restaurant’s main open kitchen. Doug Gavaletz has been the restaurant’s executive chef for more than a decade, she said.

The pandemic may have put the Chop House project on hold for a while, but there was no looking back once it began, said Carolan. One idea led to another, she said. The owners are pleased on how things turned out and believe their guests will like the new look. A recent restaurant guest told us she got the “ahhhh” feeling when she and friends walked through the door.

It’s a busy bar scene at the Chop House. Keith Carolan recently added more than 100 whiskeys and brown spirits to bar shelves. Whiskey lovers also can look forward to a whiskey dinner in early 2023, a first for the Chop House. Date and time to be announced. Carolan expects it to be a sold-out event. We predict probably on the first day the event is posted.

When Caitlyn Carolan became president of WRG, she said her personal goal was to take everything day-by-day. “We want to keep the restaurants financially healthy and be able to continue to keep the employees we’ve had for so long and to bring on new employees,” she said.

Restaurant operators nationwide have been on a roller coaster since the start of the pandemic. Restaurants adapt as they face emerging challenges in the industry, such as supply chain disruptions and rising food costs, said Carolan. As for the labor shortage, Carolan considers WRG fortunate as long-time employees at the Chop House remain loyal and have stayed on the job. “There are a few new faces, too,” she said.

Her dad, who is “semi-retired,” sometimes helps out in the business, especially when WRG restaurants have supply chain issues. “He’s sometimes on the phone for hours,” said Carolan. “He’s a problem solver and is well-connected in business. He gets the job done.” Carolan added that her parents are great grandparents, helping her family whenever they can.

WRG tidbits: “In the restaurant industry, you learn to pivot and adjust,” said Carolan. “Our philosophy at the Chop House hasn’t really changed. We serve USDA prime cuts of steaks, paired with an award-winning wine list. We believe ingredients sourced locally only add to our chef-driven menus.”

According to Carolan, the Sole Proprietor in 2018 got a new kitchen and the interior went through a few changes. Plans for VIA Italian Table in 2023 include redoing the outside patio, giving the space an elevated look, she said.

Keith Carolan said, “Whether right, wrong or indifferent, people have considered the One Eleven Chop House to be the most expensive steak house in and around the city. “Not now with another steakhouse opening in downtown Worcester,” he said, adding that Worcester Restaurant Group benefits from competition. FYI: The international chain Ruth’s Chris Steak House opened this summer at the Mercantile Center in Worcester.

The award-winning One Eleven Chop House, 111 Shrewsbury St., Worcester offers information about menus, private events, reservations, holiday gift cards, awards and more on its website, Restaurant hours are 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Closed Sunday. Takeout is available. Call (508)799-4111.

The restaurant industry predicts customers will be eager to return to restaurants and reclaim a sense of community in 2023. Owners of One Eleven Chop House remain deeply committed to offering guests a unique dining experience heading into the new year.

By Barbara Houle