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UPDATED: November 2, 2017 at 10: 58 p.m.
Market in the Square, a popular 24 hour deli frequented by students, abruptly shuttered Thursday morning after the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department seized the property.
The seizure was a result of the deli’s failure to pay rent, according to Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, of which Market was a member.
Officers posted orange “SEIZED” signs and covered the building’s windows. Police from the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department presented a court order to seize the property Thursday morning, taking ownership of all items and assets on the premises.
Elizabeth Y. Lint, executive director of the Cambridge License Commission, said the commission granted a new tenant a license to open at 60 Church St., the former location of Market.
In mid-October, Hello Fresh applied for a license to serve and prepare food at the Church St. property. According to their license application, they plan to stay open 24 hours a day and house seating for 20 people.
“This will be the same continuing operation that was previously there as a market, and there’s going to be very little change in the premises,” attorney Sean D. Hope said at a licence commission meeting yesterday. “A sheriff has been retained and they will be seizing possession of the premises.”
Hello Fresh operates under parent company Wholesome Fresh MA, and will be opening soon as a “very similar operation” to Market, Jillson said. Jillson added that Market’s nonpayment of rents had been happening for quite some time.
“These things don’t happen overnight,” Jillson said. “It was a while that they did not pay rent. I know for sure that the property owner tried to keep the operation going to make sure that the employees stayed there and that the building stayed open because that’s important for the Square, not to have something shuttered. He kept in open in spite of the fact of not collecting rent, so he could have time to find a suitable operator.”
Trinity Property Management,a real estate firm that manages the Market building, declined to comment. Market Manager Peter Whang, a Tufts graduate with several grocery stores in Connecticut, could not be reached for comment.
Kevin Maccioli, Public Information Officer at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department, wrote in an emailed statement that “the action was pursuant to a court order,” but was unable to provide any further information.
Rigoberto “Rigo” Marcus-Perez, a night-shift cashier at Market, said in a Facebook message that he has “no clue what’s going on” and had been trying to contact his boss to find out more. He also commented “RIP TO ME” in a Facebook meme group frequented by Harvard undergraduates.
Casey R. Goggin ’19 posted the meme immediately after he noticed the sign on Market’s window. In an interview, Goggin said he was headed to Market to pick up his weekly kombucha tea and Haribo peaches candy.
“My reaction was intense shock and then anger at the carceral state specifically, and then confusion and sadness all mixed together to make their own combined emotion,” he said. “I do this every Thursday morning and that cycle was disrupted today.”
Nine hours after posting the meme, Goggin’s post had nearly 700 likes. “I wasn’t surprised at all,” Goggin said. “I expected the community to come out and I was overjoyed to see their care be shown on the meme.”
Many Harvard students said they will remember Market for its sandwiches and employees. They hope that Hello Fresh will bear some similarities to the former tenant.
“I think part of it is definitely the guys that work behind the deli there. If they’re still there, I’ll still go. I think that gave it a lot of the character,” Brandon N. Wachs ’18, who frequented Market about once a week, said. “It definitely leaves a hole for a good place to get a sandwich.”
Jin Park ’18 said that the closure was “devastating.”
“The people who worked there were amazing. I was really close to them,” Park said. “They’re homies.”
Goggin agreed, saying that Market was one of “the most inclusive spaces left on this campus.”
“I think Market is a place that takes care of everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or what state they’re in at 3 a.m. when they go there for a sandwich,” he added.
Though the closure of the deli was shocking to many, some customers said they could also see indications of financial trouble.
“It’s definitely surprising that they would be forced to close down. Although at the same time, you could tell in the way that their inventory had changed that maybe they were in a little bit of trouble,” Wachs said.
While in business, Market also provided occasional donations to local homeless shelters. According to Kevin E. Eappen ’20, Food and In-Kind Donations Director at Y2Y, the shelter may see an impact in the variety of food that it provides, but most likely will not see much change in the amount of food available.
“We’re just looking forward to a similar relationship with [Hello Fresh],” Eappen said.
–Staff writer Alison W. Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.
–Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.
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