UPDATED: April 19, 2017 at 12:37 p.m.
The historic 1912 Conductor’s Building—the only surviving structure from Cambridge’s earliest subway system—is back in business, but this time without any subway cars. In their place, upscale restaurant Les Sablons opened its doors Tuesday for Cantabrigians pining for European cuisine.
The restaurant is headed by Boston restauranteurs Garrett Harker, Shore Gregory, Skip Bennett, and Jeremy Sewall. The partners’ other projects include popular Boston-area restaurants Branch Line, Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Row 34. Les Sablons—self-described as a restaurant “between London and Paris”—is named after a Paris subway station.
In a written statement, Les Sablons partner Shore Gregory said the restaurant has been interested in opening up in Harvard Square for approximately a year and is excited to join other establishments in the Square.
“We’re honored to have the opportunity to bring the Conductor’s Building to life," Gregory said. “Its significance was never lost on us.”
Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said she was excited about the opening of Les Sablons. She said the group had reached out to HSBA almost immediately after signing the property lease.
“We were excited that a well-known restaurant group was coming to town, but more importantly that they were so terrific about reaching out and wanting, way before they opened, to be part of the community,” Jillson said. “They have been attending meetings and participating in events to the extent that they could even before the restaurant opened, which really speaks volumes about the kind of people they are, really people that are invested in the community.”
The Conductor’s Building served as administrative offices for the Boston Elevated Railway, the earliest incarnation of the Cambridge Subway system. The thin, narrow brick structure stands at 2 Bennett St. across from the Charles Hotel.
Renovations started in 2014, and in 2016, it was announced that the space would be used for a restaurant. Les Sablons occupies two-stories, with a bar and seating downstairs and the main dining area upstairs.
“It’s really a fabulous building and unlike anything in the Square, given how long it is and how narrow it is,” Jillson said. “The restoration project was really moving along beautifully.”
Jillson said she was excited about the unique niche Les Sablons will fill in the Square as the only French-style restaurant and one of a few high-end options. She said she thought the menu was ideal for special occasions, but also imagines it becoming a popular spot for cocktails and small plates after work.
“It’s really, really special, and it’s fun, and the space is just so unusual, but they’ve done such a great job with the design, so kudos all around,” Jillson said.
–Staff writer Alison W. Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.
—Staff writer Katherine E. Wang can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiewang29.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: April 19, 2017
A previous version of this story misattributed a quotation from Les Sablons partner Shore Gregory.