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Square Change



Harvard Square just doesn't look the way it used to.

But while Square preservationists may lament the closing of several landmark Cambridge institutions, newcomers to the Square this year say their businesses are thriving.

This past year was marked by the closings of two of the Square's oldest businesses: the Harvest and the Tasty.

Harvard Square Defense Fund President Gladys "Pebble" Gifford said earlier this year she was concerned the opening of chain restaurants in the Square would negatively affect its image.

"The Square is more fun if it has places like Mr. Bartley's instead of McDonald's, which is in both Central and Porter Squares," Gifford said. "Why would people come to the Square if the shops and restaurants here are the same as everywhere else?"

The Harvest Restaurant closed in September after serving new-American cuisine to Cambridge residents for almost 25 years.

The owners of the Brattle Street restaurant, Patrick Rowe and Jane Thompson, filed for bankruptcy shortly before its closure.

One Cambridge resident summed up the feelings of many earlier this fall, calling the end of the Harvest "a terrible loss."

The Tasty also closed its doors at the beginning of November after serving up famously greasy hamburgers and thick milkshakes for 81 years.

Much to its customers' despair, the Tasty was forced to close because its landlord, the Cambridge Savings Bank is renovating the building which houses the restaurant.

But for those Tasty fans who feared that their last glimpse of the restaurant would be in the movie Good Will Hunting, there is still hope.

Tasty owner Peter A. Haddad announced in February that the Tasty will reopen within the new building being built by the Cambridge Savings Bank on the corner of Mass. Ave. and JFK Street.

"We'll be just what we've been before," Haddad said in a February City Council meeting. "We want to be back in the Square and doing what we've been doing for the last 81 years."

Fresh Faces

While some businesses may have shut down at least temporarily, several new shops have opened up in the Square during the past year.

Popular Church Street restaurant Fire and Ice opened in August.

Dubbing itself an "improvisational grille," the establishment encourages patrons to personally select the items which will be incorporated into their meals.

Fire and Ice's unusual style has proven to be a success in the Square. General Manager Nicole J. Elion said since the restaurant's opening business has been "fabulous."

"We have a wait seven days a week," she said. "We're always busy."

One door down from Fire and Ice, the Brew Moon Cafe has moved into the space formerly occupied by Cafe Fiorella.

According to Key Hourly Manager Sarah L. Morrison, Brew Moon Cafe opened in the space on May 1.

The new cafe is owned and staffed by the neighboring Brew Moon Restaurant and serves mainly Mediterranean-style appetizers.

Morrison describes it as "another way to experience Brew Moon."

She says Brew Moon decided to occupy the space after Cafe Fiorella opted not to renew its lease.

A new Eliot Street restaurant, Tanjore, which offers regional Indian cuisine, opened in December.

Tanjore Manager Rajinder Kumar says business has been quite good and that Harvard Square is a great location for a restaurant.

Restaurants were not the only businesses opening in the Square this year.

BosTix, a ticket provider for cultural and sporting events, opened in Holyoke Center this November. BosTix also makes tickets to Harvard events available to the public.

The opening of BosTix was due to the combined efforts of Harvard and Arts/Boston, a non-profit organization which promotes access to the arts in eastern Massachusetts.

More changes are in the cards for the Square. Friday's American Bar and Grill, an off-shoot of T.G.I. Friday's, is set to open next year in the Eliot Street space formerly occupied by California Pizza Kitchen. And a 7-Eleven will be replacing the Christy's convenience store on JFK Street.

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