Michael and Kristen Aghajanian bought the Central Tavern in Milford two months before the pandemic struck. The timing was “horrible,” Michael Aghajanian said, but it allowed the couple to completely renovate the space. After a 13-month shutdown, the tavern reopened in June and is eager to show residents “a whole new place.”
“We felt in this area, Milford and Hopkinton, there wasn’t a place to go and get a good cocktail and hang out with friends,” Aghajanian explained. There are restaurants and dive bars, he said, but there is “a big gap” when it comes to having a community-style tavern.
“If you have a good day at work, you go to the tavern to celebrate,” Aghajanian said. “If you have a bad day at work, you go to the tavern. If you want to listen to live music or entertain out-of-towners, you come to the tavern.”
Although the name’s the same, much has changed at Central Tavern as Aghajanian worked to make it “a place where you feel comfortable and welcome.” The revamp includes new seating, food, drinks and interior design. Comfort was key to the design theme, Aghajanian said, and to the mission of “inspiring long-term friendships through food and cocktails.”
The tavern is a member of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce and prides itself on being a safe place for all. Aghajanian recalled one woman who was meeting a date for the first time; she chose the Central Tavern, she said, because she felt safe there. “That warmed my heart,” Aghajanian said.
Aghajanian grew up in Milford, the adopted son of an English mother and a first-generation Armenian father. He served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps and has worked in technology for 20 years. A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Aghajanian and his wife owned and operated the kayak boat rental business at Hopkinton State Park from 2008-16.
Aghajanian is determined to weather the challenges of the pandemic and has several crowd-pleasing offerings on deck. Currently, the tavern is serving fall cocktails with names like Apple Cider Sidecar and Pumpkin Old Fashioned. Craft cocktails set the tavern apart, Aghajanian said, but patrons can also enjoy a $2 beer. “It’s high brow and low brow at the same time,” he said. The fall food menu also offers a variety of options, including appetizers, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
This winter, the Central Tavern will partner with the Miracle holiday franchise to transform into a Christmas-themed pop-up bar, one of only two Miracle locations in Massachusetts. Starting on Black Friday, the tavern will be teeming with festive decor and expertly crafted holiday cocktails. The tavern will host live music and special events that include cookie making and Santa photo-ops.
Before winter arrives, Central Tavern is hosting several other events, including a Halloween party on Oct. 30 with bands Whiskey Church and Teter Todders. Regular programming throughout the year includes live music, karaoke and DJ nights.
The Central Tavern, located at 31 Central Street in Milford, opens Wednesday through Saturday at 4 p.m. It closes Wednesday and Thursday at 11 p.m., Friday at 2 a.m. and Saturday at 1 a.m.
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