In and Around Fitchburg, Massachusetts

This blog was created to discuss some of the positive aspects of living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that are often overlooked by outsiders and residents alike.

Friday, May 07, 2010

First Thursdays and Chaibo

Last night marked the premiere of the reinvigorated First Thursdays program in downtown Fitchburg, and the weather cooperated with warm sunshine. Pedestrians strolled along Main Street, enjoying the many free events. There were a lot of musical performances to choose from, including The Bella Birds at The Rabbit Hole. Admission to the Fitchburg Art Museum is free on First Thursdays, which is perfect for those who might want to check out a special exhibit they’ve not yet seen; last night, I explored an interesting collection of Finnish jewelry organized by the Helsinki Design Museum.

There were many other performances, gallery shows, art workshops, and other events occurring throughout the afternoon and evening, but I simply didn’t have the time to visit the many things that appealed to me! For more information about First Thursdays, follow the Twitter account or see the event blog for a complete schedule of activities.

The decision to pair entertainment venues with Fitchburg restaurants not located in the downtown area was a great one. Country Good’s BBQ outside Design at 639 seemed to be especially popular! Last night, however, my husband and I decided to try the new Chaibo café (13 Cushing Street, below Destare) for a casual meal.

I can’t imagine a more perfect addition to the downtown area. The coffee house décor, with brick walls, eclectic lighting fixtures, and cozy couches, lends an immediate sense of relaxation. With free WiFi and excellent food and beverages to choose from, it would be easy to settle in at Chaibo for hours, either productively studying or simply passing the time watching out the large windows to Riverfront Park across the street. Outdoor seating is available as well, although last night was a bit too windy to take advantage of that.

The vision for Chaibo apparently began when its owners decided that Fitchburg could use a good fondue place. I’ve actually frequently bemoaned the lack of a local fondue restaurant (Melting Pot is too far away and frankly, not very good for the price) and was therefore very eager to try this specialty item at Chaibo. Unfortunately, I never made it to dessert. The panini that I ordered, expecting a small sandwich given the reasonable price, was large, incredibly tasty, and accompanied by fabulous veggie chips, leaving me with no room for even a bite of cheesecake, let alone a pot of fondue. I look forward to future visits to try the fondue as well as the many other available items, including salads, specialty coffees, loose-leaf teas, fruit smoothies, and a variety of gelato and sorbets from which I have no idea how to choose only one flavor. There are also plans to add cheese fondue to the menu when colder weather approaches – if that happens, I will be there so often that the staff will tire of me.

Speaking of the staff, they could not have been more friendly. The café was said to have been at full capacity for the official grand opening ceremony earlier in the day, and things were still quite busy when we arrived. Working out the kinks for any new restaurant is challenging, but special kudos must be given to those who do so in the midst of a rush of customers. Yet the owner and other staff with whom we interacted were nothing but cheerful and accommodating. I look forward to many happy return visits, and I would highly recommend that anyone looking for a cappuccino, a casual meal, or a great dessert try Chaibo!

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