Anne Worcester loves New Haven, and she wants the world to know it.
As director of the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies tennis tournament and chief marketing officer at Market New Haven, which was formed to raise the city’s profile, it’s her job to sing New Haven’s praises. But her enthusiasm extends well beyond that. Speak with her and it’s clear her bond with the city has grown deeply personal. It’s the first place she brings visiting friends and families, she says, and she loves when the Elm City impresses someone who has never visited or may have had preconceptions.
On a recent morning at one of her favorite spots, Claire’s Corner Copia – “This is my home away from home,” she says – Worcester greets most of the staff with hugs. With a ginger smoothie and a coffee in hand, she’s eager to talk about the city she loves.
Q: What’s your favorite way to spend a day with friends or family in New Haven?
A: When I have friends or family come visit I always like to start with the Yale tour, which is free to the public. It’s like a tourist attraction; it’s not just for students looking at the school. It’s 75 minutes and there are about 60,000 people who go through it annually. It’s just a great birds-eye view into how integrated Yale is into the city of New Haven. It’s given by students so every tour is different.
I love the two art museums (Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art), which are right across the street from each other. Then, of course, the boutique shops on Chapel. I also love antiquing so I like the English Building Market on Chapel Street.
Meals are always my favorite part. I’ll always start with breakfast at Claire’s, there’s a lot of great lunch spots (Zinc is a favorite) and I always do a progressive dinner – drinks and apps at one place (like Ordinary), dinner at another (like Olea), and dessert and drinks or coffee somewhere else (like Union League Cafe).
Q: What hidden New Haven gems do you wish more people knew about?
A: The Knights of Columbus Museum. Most people don’t know the Knights of Columbus’ international headquarters is here in New Haven, and they have a museum that is free to the public. They have amazing exhibits. Another one is the Grove Street Cemetery. I love walking in there, especially early in the morning, and I just think of the stories those tombstones could tell. Then there’s the Institute of Sacred Music [a partnership of Yale School of Music, Yale Divinity School and other academic units at the university]. It trains musicians and artists and clergy for careers, but it also hosts lectures and concerts, most of which are free to the public.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: Every day is different. Yesterday, for example, I was in Stamford for a 9 o’clock sponsorship presentation (for the Connecticut Open) to a global company headquartered in Connecticut, and by 12:30 I had to be in Madison to present to another global company. We are very much selling sponsorship all winter, for the 2018 tournament and beyond. Then I came back to the office and had one conference call after another, and I finally checked my email at 5:30.
My alarm goes off at 6:15 every morning. I love my quiet time, with my coffee and my laptop at my kitchen counter before the world starts rocking and rolling.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: In my free time I love to cook, I love to entertain, I love to spend time with my friends and family. [Worcester is married to husband, Tom, and has a 22-year-old son, Tommy, and 20-year-old daughter, Victoria.] I love, love, love to travel. My favorite country in the world in Spain. I lived there 30 years ago and I visit a lot.
Q: When you’re not watching tennis, what is your favorite sport to watch – on TV or in person?
A: College basketball. I went to Duke University so I’m one of those obnoxious Dukies.
Q: When players visit for the Connecticut Open, what are their impressions of New Haven?
A: The city of New Haven is a huge selling point for the players. What they love is that it’s five minutes from the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale to downtown; everything is proximate. Players enjoy complimentary meals at all of our award-wining restaurants (as part of the longstanding Mayor’s Passport to Downtown Dining promotion to encourage players to explore the city), but their entourages pay for their meals so it’s a great economic driver for the restaurants.
Players definitely love the shopping here. They love the unique one-of-a-kind boutiques, especially up and down Chapel. Martina Hingis once said to me, “New Haven is like a smart and sophisticated European city.” And Lindsey Davenport (who, like many others, has played the tournament before heading to the U.S. Open in New York) once said, “Players love New Haven because it’s the calm before the storm.”