This is another in a series of “Around Town” articles.

Published August 2, 2019

MELROSE — This past Friday, Boston 25 Morning News brought their weekday television show to Melrose, broadcasting live from downtown.

Heading up their ZIP Trip visit to area code 02176 were Channel 25 news anchors Gene Lavanchy and Elizabeth Hopkins, sports reporter Tom Leyden and the wonderful Michele Lazcano. Well over 1,000 people crammed Main Street, enjoying food demonstrations and local flavor.

Featured segments included the District 12 Challenger Little League team and their planned trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Also part of broadcast were the Melrose High School Girls Cross Country team and reports on happenings on the Melrose real estate scene, Memorial Hall, Melrose First Responders and services available from VA Healthcare.

The very popular Taste of the Town segments featured restaurants Bobby C’s Ristorante, Turner’s Seafood Grill & Market, Kennedy’s Ice Cream and T’AHPAS 529, whose owner Lorenzo Tenreiro we interviewed .

BOSTON 25 Morning News Anchor Gene Lavanchy hosts the Melrose Town Trivia segment with contestants Sandra Hamilton and Bill Mishkin. (Nancy Tine Photo)

Note: The Weekly News also reports on a development on the Melrose restaurant scene, which should be good news to those who enjoy downtown. More on that among our interviews with those who participated in Channel 25’s show.

Perhaps the most fun segment presented by Channel 25 was the Melrose Trivia Quiz between locals Sandra Hamilton and Bill Mishkin, which is where Around Town’s man-about-town begins our coverage.

How did you end up on Boston 25 News this morning?

Sandra Hamilton: My friend called me and she thought I would be a good candidate for the trivia contest.

Bill Mishkin: One of the young ladies who was working as a Channel 25 intern asked me if I would like to do it and I said I would be more than happy to.

Sandra: Bill won the quiz. It was all about Melrose history. But I had fun.

This is live television. Millions of viewers. Were you nervous?

Sandra: Yeah, a little bit. I’m not an in-the-limelight person.

Bill: No. I’m used to it.

Have you been on television before?

Bill: I’ve been on TV before and I do a lot of public speaking.

Lorenzo Tenreiro: I was a little nervous but I’ve been on television before too. You think how good is this gonna go. Will I remember everything. You just never know. But it’s kinda cool.

Sandra: I haven’t been on TV before. I came down here to support our food pantry at the First Baptist Church, A Pantry of Hope. There is also another food pantry in town, A Servants Heart. We are blessed today because all of the kids came from the YMCA, about 40 kids, brought down boxes of cereal. We provide food to 50 needy families every week. A Servants Heart does a lot too.

Bill: I saw that. That was great.

ELIZABETH HOPKINS, Boston 25 Morning News Anchor, interviews Lorenzo Tenreiro, owner or T’ahpas 529 restaurant in Melrose. (Nancy Tine Photo)

Why is Melrose a good place to do business?

Bill: I’m the Managing Director for Home Instead Senior Care. Melrose is an extremely generous city. We do a program called, “Be A Santa to a Senior,” and we provide gifts for elderly people at facilities that otherwise wouldn’t get anything. We work closely with Shaw’s Supermarket and put ornaments up on a tree and people buy them. We were able to get over 600 people Christmas gifts last year. The Community just has a big heart.

Lorenzo: We chose Melrose for our first restaurant, Coffee, Tea & Me over 12 years ago. The city embraced us almost immediately. And now we have T’AHPAS 529 and La Qchara, which are both on Franklin Street. The people support local business and we are happy to employ locally and be part of the community.

So Lorenzo, you were part of one of the cooking segments.

Lorenzo: We prepared for the broadcast our menu items from T’AHPAS 529. Paella, which is one of our main dishes, originally from Valencia, Spain. Our Pulpo A La Parilla (grilled Spanish octopus) which Elizabeth Hopkins really likes. And our Datiles (Marcona almond stuffed dates with applewood smoked bacon).

I have to ask. Coffee, Tea & Me closed over two years ago because of new construction. After the new building is completed are you going to reopen? Melrosians want to know.

Lorenzo: It’s no secret we loved that Main Street location. We are still hopeful to get back in there. Right now we are negotiating back again my lease. So right now they contacted me last week and they said let’s talk. So we are back focused on that. We are very encouraged.

Is it going to be like the previous Coffee, Tea & Me?

Lorenzo: We are hoping it to be a French bistro. Crepes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our bakery. We will have a formal, full blown kitchen. The last 2 1/2 years everybody has been asking over and over.

What’s your favorite morning show?

Bill: Channel 25, what else.

Lorenzo: Elizabeth likes our grilled octopus. And we like Boston 25 News.

Sandra: Boston 25 Morning News. Every morning.

After Boston 25 Morning News concluded its live broadcast from downtown, the Weekly News caught up with anchors Elizabeth Hopkins and Gene Lavanchy. Their knowledge and appreciation of Melrose was deep and their familiarity with our community was evident – on and off the air.

So what brings the morning show to Melrose?

Gene Lavanchy: It’s one of our Zip Trips. This is a town we hit about 10 years ago. We’ve been doing these for 16 seasons and we’re starting to go back and revisit. It’s a much bigger production now. And it was time to come back to Melrose and coordinate with the Summer Stroll. So it was just perfect.

Elizabeth, you interviewed Lorenzo from T’AHPAS 529. There was some interesting food there.

Elizabeth Hopkins: Yes, Lorenzo. The way he says “Pap-rika,” it just rolls off the tongue.

What did you like on his table?

Elizabeth: One of my favorite dishes in the whole world is grilled octopus. Because when it comes to your table you can say “Release The Kraken!”

I saw you do that.

Elizabeth: Yeah people are terrified by it but I absolutely love it.

Gene: You can do that because I don’t have seven other friends to join me.

How long have you been with Channel 25?

Elizabeth: Almost 10 years.

Gene: 17 years

So Gene, you switched over as sports reporter to the hard news side. That’s an interesting move.

Gene: Well, it was. But I think if you look around there’s a lot of guys that have made that switch. One of our news anchors, Mark Ockerbloom, is a perfect example. He started in sports. Ed Harding, was a sports guy, he’s doing news now. When Frank Mallicoat was here – he was a sports guy at one time. On the biggest stage, a guy who is immensely talented, is Bryant Gumbel. He started out doing sports for NBC and then he crossed over to news.

When the earthquake hit the 1989 World Series in San Francisco we had sports reporters covering this huge news story on live television.

Gene: Yes. From my experience the sports guys are pretty much able to handle almost any situation.

Elizabeth: They’re like the drummers in any band. They’re off-the-cuff, they’re funny, they’re creative. So it’s a natural transition. Especially when you talk about morning news. Because that’s what you do.

Gene: And they’re humble.

What do you like about Melrose?

Elizabeth: Oh my gosh. First of all the stroll. There was a woman who owns Rada, a boutique on Main Street, and she was talking about how she’s from Europe and how it’s such a Mediterranean or European feel when they shut down the street. And people get a chance to have a glass of wine, have a little meal, they get to peruse. They get to shop local and keep the money in Melrose. All while meeting their friends and neighbors who maybe they haven’t caught up with. But then you see them on the street. I think it’s absolutely fantastic.

Gene: I’d say community pride is very much on display here today.

A lot of people have been here for a long time. They can’t wait to tell you everything about the town, the history and what they love about it. The people are great. They look out for each other. And this might be one of the best Main Streets in the United States of America. Because it is all local. There’s a couple of shops maybe changing. But it’s all local. All great restaurants. You can live above the dentist, shop here, buy your food down the street, and you wouldn’t have to go anywhere.

Elizabeth: And our own Catherine Parrotta, who is a Boston 25 news reporter, she actually got her wedding cake at D’Amici’s. So many connections with people in our newsroom with Melrose. That’s why we love it so much.

So Gene, you hosted the trivia quiz.

Gene: Correct.

Good answer. Is there perhaps a Wheel of Fortune hosting gig in your future?

Gene: I don’t think so. Why, do you know somebody?

Well you hear things. There’s been talk.

Gene: Oh, not yet. I’m holding out for Family Feud. Steve Harvey is too busy as it is. And he needs to give up one gig. Or Elizabeth and I could do Wheel of Fortune and alternate. I can do letters one week and she the next.

Elizabeth: I’d like to see you in high heels turning the vowels.