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Over the past decade, downtown Haverhill has evolved into a bustling hub of culture, community, and cuisine. While the restaurant scene has expanded to include flavors from all over the world, the area maintains an intimate sense of camaraderie amongst business owners and customers alike. STACKS, which opened on Washington Street on November 4, fits perfectly into this vibe.

The inviting atmosphere features modern décor and is full of energy, both at the packed bar and in the dining area. The staff is not only friendly, but enthusiastic about working there, a refreshing experience amidst an ongoing worker shortage. Currently, STACKS does not take reservations, so customers should plan for a wait time before sitting down for dinner, especially on weekend nights.

STACKS is owned by Paul and Anthony Tomacchio, two brothers who grew up in Methuen. From a young age, the brothers understood the important role that food plays in bringing together their family, who have Italian roots. “Where Paul and I come from, food isn’t just fuel; it’s a way of life,” Anthony says. “It’s what brings our loved ones together and what helps us honor our ancestors.”

“There was never a time that we weren’t in the kitchen at home with our mom, and I knew from an extremely young age that cooking was my calling in life,” Paul adds. Paul began his restaurant career before Anthony, attending the New England Culinary Institute and opening STUFT, a Mexican street food restaurant, just a few doors down from STACKS, in 2016.

Photo courtesy of STACKS

The STACKS menu is centered on its line-up of burgers and sandwiches, rounded out by a selection of salads and appetizers, and accompanied by a whopping beverage menu that includes over 20 beers and ciders on tap. The globally-inspired craft sandwiches include a variety of flavorful beef and chicken combinations including the steak tip sub, Bulgogi cheesesteak, and the Nashville hot chicken sandwich.

Insider tip: Start with the fries and black garlic aioli. Then order a sandwich – you can’t go wrong with the fried chicken bacon ranch sandwich – with homemade chips, perfect for dipping in your extra aioli.

The blue Mai Tai, a recommendation from Anthony, is not only pretty to look at (and snap a photo of) but serves up the perfect blend of tropical flavors. The menu’s “biggest attraction,” according to Anthony and Paul, is STACKS’ signature boozy milkshake. The coffee cookies and cream shake — boosted with a shot of espresso vodka — comes topped with a heaping slice of cookies and cream pie and whipped cream.

What makes STACKS feel even more special is the family and community values embraced by the owners, who have family business in their blood. “We’ve actually been in the food industry for three generations, starting with my grandfather who built a business with his brothers making and selling homemade sausage,” Paul says.

Anthony credits his move into restaurant ownership to a stint helping manage STUFT, working alongside his brother. “He believed in me and, after a lifetime of cooking together at home, he had seen a set of skills in me that I didn’t even fully recognize myself,” Anthony says. “He supported me, mentored me and championed for me. He encouraged my creativity and challenged me to think outside the box.”

The brothers also feel a sense of commitment to their community and fellow businesses in Haverhill, where Anthony lives (Paul lives next door in Methuen.) “We love to support other local businesses as much as possible,” Anthony says.

The restaurant’s cold brew, one of its beers, its bread, its vegan ice cream, and its bread pudding are all made by other Haverhill businesses. “It’s all about community support and lifting each other up because we’re all in this together,” Anthony says.

STACKS is still only a couple weeks old, but Anthony and Paul already have their sights set on exciting additions in the future. They plan on pushing the boundaries with new flavor combinations and healthy dishes — such as their signature gluten-free fried chicken — and they are already putting together holiday themed shakes and seasonal sandwich specials.

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