The Class of 2002 probably doesn't even know what it's missing. This group of students is the first to have experienced life at Harvard without the presence of that greasy spoon landmark, the Tasty. Now it seems they never will.
The 24-hour diner closed its doors in October of 1997 when renovations on its building, owned by Cambridge Savings Bank, began, but the restaurant's return was always in doubt due to rising rent costs. After more than a year of speculation (including a rumor that it would relocate to Leo's Place on JFK Street for the evening hours), the Tasty is gone for good.
Some may say good riddance to the establishment that raised the cholesterol levels of thousands of Harvard students by serving fatty burgers and fries and its famous "Heart Attack on a Plate" specials in its cramped space. But allow us a little nostalgia as we remember that it was only the Tasty that was open to satisfy those 4 a.m. hunger pangs with cooked food (unless you count microwaved burritos from Store 24), only the Tasty that combined such a sense of Cambridge tradition and history with such a good sense of humor. Where else around here were you able to have insults served with your coffee?
A tee-shirt printed by the owners a few years ago jokingly advertised, "Mingle with the suave, the rich and the beautiful at the Tasty...so good they built Harvard around us." Maybe the reason many of us liked the place so much (or at least liked to know it was there), was that the Tasty, with its friendly atmosphere and staff, was the opposite of what Harvard can sometimes seem--cold and imposing. It was that rare neighborhood establishment in a town where Harvard, for all intents and purposes, is the neighborhood.
Sure, the Tasty has been captured for celluloid posterity in such quality films as "With Honors" and of course, "Good Will Hunting," but the real thing will be missed. An analysis of the corporate expansion and pressures behind the Tasty's slow demise is best saved for another day. But for now, suffice it to say that Abercrombie and Fitch, Finagle-a-Bagel and Pacific Sunwear--the companies set to move into the Tasty's old haunt--just won't be the same.