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Caribbean-inspired Ila Verde restaurant to open Monday in downtown Worcester


WORCESTER — For Marfel Melendez, healthy food and her Dominican roots have always been important in her life.


In a space along Main Street, the 29-year-old will combine the two when she opens Ila Verde, a restaurant with focus on bowl-style foods in a Caribbean-inspired restaurant.

Melendez, of Boston, said she named the restaurant Ila Verde — in English, Green Island, using the alternate spelling for "island" in Spanish — in part due to what she said her restaurant will offer to downtown Worcester.


Among the options, Melendez said the restaurant will have vegan and pescatarian items which will be prepared by a staff of three.


After recently getting clearance from the fire department for her sprinkler system, she hopes to open Ila Verde's doors on Monday.


“I want to offer people fast, healthy food,” said Melendez. “You can just come in, make a bowl and you're out.”


Located inside 420 Main St., once the location of a jeweler, the restaurant will be located along the same sidewalk with where the Owl Shop did business for more than seven decades and where a Latino-owned bakery La Central opened in late 2022.


Melendez, who said she manages multifamily properties in the Boston area, said she modeled her restaurant after her family’s ancestry from the Dominican Republic.


Wickered chairs and wooden tables, under a drop ceiling that she stenciled herself with tropical contours, complete the picture that starts with an entrance that Melendez filled with greenery along the ceiling and the walls.


“I want it to feel like home,” said Melendez. “I want people to walk in here, have a seat and just enjoy the ambiance.”

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