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Winthrop Square Remodels

Spaghetti Club, Shilla to Close; Grendel's Future in Question

By Andrew K. Mandel

By spring 1998, the Winthrop Street structure currently housing the Spaghetti Club and the Shilla Korean and Japanese Restaurant will be closed for demolition. By winter 1998, a $20 million retail-residential complex will be open for business.

Intercontinental Companies--owner of the five properties in Winthrop Square--will break ground this fall to construct a seven-story building behind Grendel's Den Restaurant, yielding a 10,000 square foot parking area, three floors of retail space and 12 condominium units.

The demolition of the former Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church and 95 Winthrop Street, home of the Spaghetti Club and Shilla Restaurant, will be necessary to complete the project, as will a 180-degree rotation and move of the second and third floors of the building currently housing Tweeter, Etc.

These floors will then sit atop a newly constructed foundation erected beside Grendel's Den and facing Winthrop Park.

Tweeter, an electronics store, will relocate to the first floor of the Wainwright Bank building because of the project, said Peter Palandjian '87, chair and CEO of Intercontinental.

Palandjian said it is "unlikely" that the Spaghetti Club or Shilla will reestablish their enterprises in the new retail space.

But the future of Grendel's Den Restaurant is unclear as the parties involved have not yet discussed the details of the development project.

Although Sue E. Kuelzer, co-owner of Grendel's, said "we will stay as long as we can," co-owner Herbert Kuelzer said he is prepared to shut the doors of the restaurant on March 4, 1998, citing finances and the prospect of higher rents.

Yet Palandjian said he recognizes that the 26-year-old establishment is a "Square institution" and "would love for Grendel's to stay."

The building of the popular Winthrop Street eatery--once the Pi Eta Speakers Club--will be "preserved and substantially restored," according to Palandjian.

If the building is to be preserved for its historical value, Sue Kuelzer said she hopes the restaurant will also be preserved for its place in the country's heritage.

Kuelzer indicated that her restaurant is not only a long-standing Square tradition and an extended family member of the Harvard community, but is also a legal landmark.

In 1982, Grendel's won a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a Massachusetts law that gave churches and schools veto power over liquor license issuance within 500 feet of their property.

Both Herbert Kuelzer and Palandjian mentioned their interest in maintaining Grendel's Bar in the basement of the building.

News of the restaurant's potential closing alarmed patrons, some of whom have been circling the eatery's famed salad bar for meals and meals.

"I've been coming here almost once a week for the past few years," said Denny R. Felsner. "I took in the atmosphere, and I was hooked."

But the Cambridge Historical Commission did not--and could not--consider the internal use of any of the structures when it discussed Intercontinental's plans this past year.

The Commission works only toward preservation objectives, aiming to maintain historical and architectural integrity.

"We were very concerned about maintaining a low scale on the park," said Charles M. Sullivan, executive director of the Commission. "Intercontinental has been very cooperative and flexible."

After months of project drafts, Intercontinental presented a development plan acceptable to the Commission this September.

Sullivan said the compromise serves the interests of all parties, and two historic buildings will be preserved as a result of the project.

The Commission recognizes the need for modernity in the Square, but hopes to protect the charm of the area, Sullivan said.

Although "an unfettered free market would alter the Square's character," Sullivan said the Commission has "no intent to make [the area] a Williamsburg."

This latest announcement concerning Winthrop Park accompanies last week's news that renovation of Read Block--only steps away in the heart of the Square--will close The Tasty for at least two years--and perhaps permanently.

The Spaghetti Club and Shilla Restaurant are also unsure of their fates.

Scott E. Griffin, general manager of The Spaghetti Club, said the establishment realizes its shutdown is "inevitable," but does not know exactly when the Club's doors will close.

Kwanghyun Youn, proprietor of the Shilla Restaurant, was unavailable for comment.

--Robbie I. Chaplick, Karen A. Medlin and Elizabeth S. Zuckerman contributed to the reporting of this story.Courtesy of Peter PalandjianPlans for the remodeled Winthrop Square area include three-story and seven-story buildings to be constructed adjacent to the preserved building currently home to Grendel's.

Palandjian said it is "unlikely" that the Spaghetti Club or Shilla will reestablish their enterprises in the new retail space.

But the future of Grendel's Den Restaurant is unclear as the parties involved have not yet discussed the details of the development project.

Although Sue E. Kuelzer, co-owner of Grendel's, said "we will stay as long as we can," co-owner Herbert Kuelzer said he is prepared to shut the doors of the restaurant on March 4, 1998, citing finances and the prospect of higher rents.

Yet Palandjian said he recognizes that the 26-year-old establishment is a "Square institution" and "would love for Grendel's to stay."

The building of the popular Winthrop Street eatery--once the Pi Eta Speakers Club--will be "preserved and substantially restored," according to Palandjian.

If the building is to be preserved for its historical value, Sue Kuelzer said she hopes the restaurant will also be preserved for its place in the country's heritage.

Kuelzer indicated that her restaurant is not only a long-standing Square tradition and an extended family member of the Harvard community, but is also a legal landmark.

In 1982, Grendel's won a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a Massachusetts law that gave churches and schools veto power over liquor license issuance within 500 feet of their property.

Both Herbert Kuelzer and Palandjian mentioned their interest in maintaining Grendel's Bar in the basement of the building.

News of the restaurant's potential closing alarmed patrons, some of whom have been circling the eatery's famed salad bar for meals and meals.

"I've been coming here almost once a week for the past few years," said Denny R. Felsner. "I took in the atmosphere, and I was hooked."

But the Cambridge Historical Commission did not--and could not--consider the internal use of any of the structures when it discussed Intercontinental's plans this past year.

The Commission works only toward preservation objectives, aiming to maintain historical and architectural integrity.

"We were very concerned about maintaining a low scale on the park," said Charles M. Sullivan, executive director of the Commission. "Intercontinental has been very cooperative and flexible."

After months of project drafts, Intercontinental presented a development plan acceptable to the Commission this September.

Sullivan said the compromise serves the interests of all parties, and two historic buildings will be preserved as a result of the project.

The Commission recognizes the need for modernity in the Square, but hopes to protect the charm of the area, Sullivan said.

Although "an unfettered free market would alter the Square's character," Sullivan said the Commission has "no intent to make [the area] a Williamsburg."

This latest announcement concerning Winthrop Park accompanies last week's news that renovation of Read Block--only steps away in the heart of the Square--will close The Tasty for at least two years--and perhaps permanently.

The Spaghetti Club and Shilla Restaurant are also unsure of their fates.

Scott E. Griffin, general manager of The Spaghetti Club, said the establishment realizes its shutdown is "inevitable," but does not know exactly when the Club's doors will close.

Kwanghyun Youn, proprietor of the Shilla Restaurant, was unavailable for comment.

--Robbie I. Chaplick, Karen A. Medlin and Elizabeth S. Zuckerman contributed to the reporting of this story.Courtesy of Peter PalandjianPlans for the remodeled Winthrop Square area include three-story and seven-story buildings to be constructed adjacent to the preserved building currently home to Grendel's.

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