Students rejoice! A new late night eatery is coming to town to serve you warm, fluffy pancakes during your midterm study breaks and post-party romps. Yes, the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) will be opening its doors in Cambridge in June. While we feel a twinge of disappointment that the next restaurant opening in Harvard Square will be a franchised hole-in-the wall and not a local hole-in-the-wall, we applaud the establishment of any student-oriented business in Harvard Square. After all, the last thing we need is another bank.
But students had better grab that extra over-ripe piece of dining hall fruit just in case, because there is a caveat to IHOP’s debut. Thanks to the Cambridge License Commission (CLC), undergrads will not be able to take advantage of the late- (and late-late-) night hours that make IHOP so famous. Instead, the syrup palace will be forced to close at 2 a.m. along with its nearby neighbors Felipe’s, b. good, and Pinocchio’s.
For this, the Harvard Square Defense Fund is largely to blame. The group, which in the past has successfully convinced the CLC that late-night food always means late-night noise, should realize that 4 a.m. closing times will not actually lead to more noise near Cambridge homes. After all, there are almost no private residences between most Harvard Square restaurants and student housing.
Moreover, the CLC ought to remember that Cambridge’s permanent residents are not its only constituency. Cambridge needs be more sympathetic to the interests of the University, which employs hundreds of Cantabrigians and its students, whose spending helps to support the city. It is Harvard that draws in visitors from far and wide to Cambridge. The city need not cater its every policy to the University, but it should at least consider the interests of the University and its students in debating city policy.
The Undergraduate Council has wisely appointed a student liaison to the city to advocate for student interests. But the University itself could do more in its relations with the city than just negotiate construction permits. It should also directly lobby the city to better serve student interests—in this case, the easing of restrictions on late-night dining.
Pancakes are wonderful. Noise is not. But one does not cause the other, even at 4 a.m. Cambridge residents are no longer the Puritans of the 1600s; they are hungry night owls. We invite the CLC and the Harvard Square Defense Fund to lay down their arms and lap from the fountain of syrup with the rest of us.