APPLEBEE'S "HOMETOWN HERO" IS MAJOR TAYLOR
Contact: Lynne Tolman
Marshall W. "Major" Taylor, a black man from Worcester who was world bicycling champion 100 years ago, is the "hometown hero" at the newest Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, 632 Park Ave., Worcester.
The chain picks a local notable for each of its restaurants, and cycling's "Worcester Whirlwind" is a natural for the Webster Square location, which opens to the public Jan. 31. The restaurant display honoring Taylor features an antique, Fitchburg-made Iver Johnson bicycle similar to one that Taylor rode.
Taylor (1878-1932) overcame racial prejudice on and off his bike on the way to becoming "The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World" (the title of his 1929 autobiography) with a string of world-record sprints in 1898 and defeat of his Boston rivals Tom and Nat Butler at the 1899 world championships in Montreal.
Board members of the Major Taylor Association helped Applebee's subcontractor Hospitality Solutions develop the restaurant display and are conducting a $250,000 fund drive to put up a statue of Taylor in Salem Square. MTA board members were invited to the Applebee's private grand opening Jan. 29. The event doubled as a fund-raiser for Adopt an Angel II, which supports children in need in Worcester County.