Tasty May Be Ousted From Square Location

Cambridge Savings Bank to Remodel Building

For some of Combridge's oldest businesses, October will be their last month in the historic Read Block at the center of Harvard Square. The building's owner has not yet said what this date will mean for The Tasty.

The end seems nigher for the Square's only 24-hour greasy spoon.

At a private meeting on Wednesday, Cambridge Savings Bank told the building's occupants that the bank's plans to renovate Read Block will require that the tenants move-out by October 31st.

Whether this date will be the beginning of a temporary move for The Tasty or its last day at its famous corner locale remains to be seen.

The eatery's owner, Peter A. Haddad, said the prospects seem daunting. Haddad said he believes the bank wants to exclude him from the new building.

He shared this suspicion at yesterday's meeting with bank management, which resulted in sharp words between he and Nelson Goddard, the bank's senior vice president for administration.

"The bank wouldn't give an answer," Hadded said. "They said, 'We're not going to guarantee any tenancy.' I'm really upset--physically andmentally shook up by this--because The Tasty has been there for some 80 years."

Goddard confirmed in an interview yesterday that thebank has not made any tenancy plans and that none of the current tenants have "return rights to the building," but the added that the bank will talk with Haddad.

"The bank has made some statements in the past about [The Tasty] coming back into the building," Goddard said. "And at the meeting yesterday I asked Haddad to come meet with us and talk--so far I haven't heard from him."

The bank's renovation plans call for the preservation of all three building facades along the Read Block and construction of a new interior. The bank will restore the two end buildings entirely and preserve the facade of the middle building, a plan which-after three years of haggling--recently received the Cambridge Historical Commission's approval.

The bank will use the third floor of the renovated building for its own offices and will lease the lower two floors to retail stores.

Because the new building will not contain small office space, almost all of the building's current occupants--most of which are small businesses--will not be able to return to the building. Increased rent and the building. Increased rent and the building's two year closure for renovation present further obstacles, tenants said.

Though tenants have known since the bank bought the building three years ago that they would eventually be asked to leave, the occupants were stunned by yesterday's announcement.

"We were all just pretty shocked," said Rosaile A. Prosser, owner of Alice Darling Secretarial, which has been in the building for 84 years. "They have always left it that there won't be any room for any of us in the new building."

Even those who have only been in the building a short time are disappointed at the prospect of leaving.

"To understand why I'm sad to move out all you have to do is look out the window," said Christopher Mackin, president of Ownership Associates, Inc., which has been in the building since 1994. Mackin's window looks down on the information booth in the heart of the Square.

In addition to helping pay for some of the tenants' moving expenses, the bank also promised each tenant a private meeting with bank management. The tenants' current leases require that the bank provied 30 days notice before evicting them; the bank provided four months, something all the tenants said they were grateful for.

But many tenants said they worry about finding new locations in the crowded, high-priced Square.

"What happens to small, independent businesses like ours that have a hard time paying the top sexy rent in the Square?" Mackin asked.

News of the pending move and possible end to The Tasty had already reached patrons of the small diner.

"This place is just like an institution for many college students all over the world," said Dennis M. Coveney, who has been eating at The Tasty for 25 years. "I would be pretty bummed out."

Coveney said he will pass out flyers in the fall alerting returning students to The Tasty's troubles, if the situation has not been resolved. "It just hurts so bad," Haddad said. "It's wrong."

Haddad said he will do whatever it takes to keep the Tasty open and will soon contract Goddard for a meeting