Hong Kong, Popular Harvard Square Joint, Approved for Longer Hours

Kevin H. Lin

Paul Lee, manager of the Hong Kong Restaurant, is petitioning the Cambridge License Commission to extend his restaurant’s closing time to 3 a.m. seven days a week. He will appear in front of the board on Tuesday.

The Hong Kong restaurant has received approval to extend its dining room hours to 3 a.m. seven days a week.

Paul Lee, the manager of the popular late night food joint, appeared in front of the Cambridge License Commission on Tuesday with his attorney Kevin P. Crane ’73, stating that he wished to provide food in the restaurant area, in addition to take out and delivery services later into the night. The lounge will still close earlier in accordance with its liquor license.

Lee noted that his current license permitted him to stay open until 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Because his restaurant usually served the last call for alcohol 15 minutes before closing, the original closing time only gave customers a short period of time to eat food prior to leaving.

Crane pointed out that there was a precedent in Harvard Square for eateries to serve food past 2 a.m., including the IHOP on Eliot Street, which is open until 4 a.m. and Falafel Corner, which remains open until 3 a.m.

Lee also asked that his Sunday opening hours be moved earlier—from 12 p.m. to 11 a.m. to match his liquor license for Sundays, a discrepancy which technically allowed customers to order alcohol without being able to purchase food.


Over the past month, Lee gathered more than 800 signatures from customers in favor of his proposal, including a large number of Harvard students who signed once they returned to campus, Lee told The Crimson after the meeting.

Students at the time spread unfounded rumors that the City had pressured Lee to close early, which led to outrage over several House email lists.

The effort came out in Lee’s favor.

The Cambridge License Commission, which consisted of Chairman Michael P. Gardner, Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas, and Fire Chief Gerald R. Reardon, approved the restaurant’s application with a 2-1 vote Tuesday night. Gardner dissented, noting he would prefer a trial period that stipulated a 2:30 a.m. closing, as opposed to a 3 a.m. one.

Denise A. Jillson, Harvard Square Business Association executive director appeared in front of the board and spoke in favor of Lee’s petition and in support of more late-night food options in the Square.

The application was also supported by Cambridge City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72, who honored Lee’s father and restaurant founder Sen Lee with a plaque many years ago.

“I’m very happy,” Lee told The Crimson after he heard the board members’ decision.

Lee’s restaurant will undergo a probation period with the new hours for six months before he reappears in front of the board for re-evaluation.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at