New Restaurant To Open in Casablanca Space

Chyi-Dean Shu

Casablanca, the Brattle Street Mediterranean restaurant, is up for sale. Inspired by the 1942 movie, Casablanca opened as a bar in 1955.

Good news, Harvard foodies: a recently shuttered iconic eatery in the Square will soon have a new occupant.

Local chef Michael Scelfo plans to open his own establishment in the space on Brattle Street previously occupied by the Mediterranean restaurant Casablanca, Boston Magazine reported last week.

Casablanca, a beloved gathering place for Harvard professors and other affiliates since its founding as a bar in 1955, was put up for sale in 2011. It closed its doors for good last month.

Scelfo, currently the executive chef at Russell House Tavern, has spent four years working with the Grafton Group, which also oversees Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and Park.

"They are great people," Scelfo said of his Grafton Group colleagues. "And I’ve learned quite a bit from them." Yet Scelfo said he is excited to take a new step in his career, adding that opening his own restaurant will "fulfill a lifelong dream."

Scelfo said he can report no further details of his plans at this point, but will release more information in the coming months.

When Casablanca went up for sale in 2011, Executive Director of the Harvard Square Business Association Denise A. Jillson told The Crimson she was hopeful that the vacated space would reopen its doors.

“Recently, a Boston Globe column talked about the re-opening of Bob Slate Stationer and referred to it as ‘a miracle on Brattle Street.’ We look forward to a second miracle,” Jillson said at the time.

Here's hoping Scelfo's restaurant becomes as much of a fixture in Harvard Square as Casablanca.

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