The Crimson

Spilling the Beans: Starbucks to Rejoin Harvard Square — In a New Location

Just in time for peppermint and holiday drinks, Starbucks will return to Harvard Square in November — right down the road from its previous location on Massachusetts Avenue.

The new location will join the recently renovated El Jefe’s Taqueria and the new Central Rock Gym in the Abbot Building, which previously housed the famous Curious George Store.

Since 2018, three Starbucks coffee shops have closed in Harvard Square — the most recent one in November 2021, when the company closed its popular 1380 Massachusetts Ave. location.

A Starbucks spokesperson wrote in a November email that the decision to close the store last year came “after careful consideration” and a review “to ensure a healthy store portfolio.” The location has since been taken over by the Harvard Shop.

Harvard Square Business Association Executive Director Denise A. Jillson said many who frequent the Square were left mourning the loss of the last Starbucks shop after its doors closed.

“There has been a lot of lamenting since Starbucks at Harvard Yard closed, because, as you might remember, we had four Starbucks at one point,” Jillson said.

“You discover how much you really miss something when it’s no longer there,” she added.

Nearly a year later, students said they are excited about the return of Starbucks to the Square.

Peter A. Jin ‘25 said he thinks “it makes sense that there should be the option for Starbucks for anyone” on a college campus.

Jillson described the incoming manager of the new Starbucks, John Corredor, as “a veteran Starbucks employee” who is “very familiar with the Square.” Corredor previously worked at the Harvard Yard Starbucks location.

“Starbucks has been a long-time member of the Harvard Square Business Association. They are terrific community partners,” Jillson said.

Though the new Starbucks location in the Abbot building will be smaller, Jillson said the Square is “delighted to have them back.”

“We’re anxious for November. We’re anxious for that iconic location,” Jillson said.

—Staff writer Kate Delval Gonzalez can be reached at kate.delvalgonzalez@thecrimson.com.

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Elle Decor

Alongside Harvard’s Historic Campus, a Trattoria That Has Beauty and Brains

Smart design moves (not to mention a killer lasagna) make date night at Bar Enza a must.

If there’s one image diners at Bar Enza tend to flaunt on social media, it’s photo evidence of the Harvard Square trattoria’s 100-layer lasagna, a dish whose densely packed sheets of noodles (go ahead, count them) and bubbles of molten mozzarella would bring a Whole30 adherent to tears.

The artfully layered pasta isn’t the only draw at Bar Enza; the soft, Italian-inspired interiors of the restaurant, helmed by Brooklyn firm Home Studios, are also proof that simple ingredients can come together to create a thing of beautiful simplicity. The vibe? “It kinda feels like a great living room,” says firm founder and creative director Oliver Haslegrave.

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The Crimson

El Jefe’s Food Review: Bigger and Better, but It Just Isn’t the Same

At 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7, Mt. Auburn Street lost a beloved giant of popular Harvard Square chains. The iconic, delectable El Jefe’s moved from its original spot by Tasty Burger to a larger, more expansive location a tad closer to the Yard (and their rival Felipe’s) on JFK Street. The move came with an upgraded interior as well, with two stories of seating and a larger space for eating, talking, and general loitering. Although nearly everything new about the popular Mexican joint was changed for the better, the memory of old El Jefe’s — cozy, familiar, and grimy — still lingers. So, let’s see how the new location measures up, piece by piece.

The Space – 8/10

At first glance, the space is an intoxicated college student’s dream. There are two stories of seating, more room for the food line (which can grow to snake all the way up the stairs), and more space to socialize. While this expanded capacity is great business for El Jefe’s, attracting even more customers, it has also led to increased wait times and foot traffic within the Mexican joint. However long the wait may be, at least El Jefe’s has the space to support it. As a prime spot of late-night eats for college students, the restaurant’s choice to expand their square footage and capacity was a smart idea and will only bring in more business for them.

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WGBH

10 years vacant, the Harvard Square Theatre may be poised to spring back to life

The Harvard Square Theatre has sat vacant and desolate on Church Street for more than a decade.

But behind the boarded-up front doors, an effort is underway that could bring the iconic movie theater back to life, according to Michael Monestime, a spokesman for billionaire Gerald Chan. Chan bought the theater in 2015 for $17.5 million, adding to his more than $100 million in properties portfolio in the heart of Cambridge.

“We’ve … hired some new staff to help reimagine what’s possible to really bring this important site back to life,” Monestime told GBH News last week, “and I hope to have more to report back to you and the Cambridge community in the near future.”

Community leaders say they would welcome any progress on the building after years of vacancy. But that progress will have to wait as designs are drawn up — new designs that reflect a new pandemic world, one where a shrewd businessman might not want to solely invest in a big screen after theaters were starved for attendance for two years.

“From time to time, we’ve been notified that there are people within the building,” said Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, who has been working for years to reopen the theater. “And yes, you know, there are rodents because guess what? It’s an urban environment and there are rodents everywhere.”

On an otherwise busy Thursday night this month, there were only a handful of people passing by the shuttered entertainment site, aptly illustrating the decade-old void that has descended on this block of Harvard Square.

Harvard Square boosters complain that the center of gravity for nightlife in Cambridge has shifted to Central Square and say the demise of the theater may be a significant reason why.

For 28 years prior to its closing, the Harvard Square Theatre was the regional showcase site for the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a cult classic that attracted devotees in large numbers who dressed up and sang along to the raunchy lyrics while tossing rice and popcorn to the audience.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=30YuEdNkG-I%3Fenablejsapi%3D1

“Oh, God. I went to ‘Rocky Horror’ a lot,” said Mark McGovern, a longtime Cambridge City Council member and former mayor. McGovern recalls hanging out in “the pit” in Harvard Squareduring the day and taking in movies at night. He has led a five-year effort to reopen the theater. In 2017, following a deluge of complaints from residents about the empty building in the heart of Cambridge, the City Council threatened to take over the theater by eminent domain.

“Eminent domain is tough!” McGovern said. “People think it’s a very easy thing for cities to do. It’s really complicated. But I do think even putting that on the table pushed Mr. Chan a little bit into saying, ‘OK, well, I don’t want that to happen. I need to do something with the property.’”

He did. But local opposition and the pandemic got in the way.

A stalled plan

On July 8, 2012, the owners of the moment, AMC Loews, closed down the 90-year-old Harvard Square Theatre and sold it to local millionaire Richard Friedman. Just a few years later, he sold the …

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The Crimson

Baking News: Le Macaron French Pastries Opens in Harvard Square

Harvard Square officially welcomed Le Macaron French Pastries in a grand opening event Saturday.

Located on Massachusetts Avenue, Le Macaron is a Black-owned business offering a selection of French macarons and pastries, as well as gelato and European-style coffee. The shop first opened its doors on Aug. 12 during Black Business Month, but held off its official grand opening celebration until nearly a month later.

“We have been just well received by the community, the students, the locals, the Harvard Square Business Association, and particularly the Cambridge Savings Bank,” co-owner Karine Ernest said.

Cambridge City Councilor E. Denise Simmons attended the grand opening. Simmons, the former mayor of Cambridge, spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and congratulated the business on its opening, calling it “a sweet, delightful surprise”.

Ernest called the business her “lifelong dream” during the ceremony.

“Thank you to all those in Harvard Square. Thank you to my friends and family, my children for coming out here to support me,” Ernest said.

David I. Heller ’79, a close friend of the owners who enjoyed a bubblegum macaron, called the establishment a “delicious addition to the Square” and a “nice place on date night.”

Two of Le Macaron’s employees are current Harvard students.

Joseph W. Hernandez ’25, who works at the shop, praised the store’s management, saying he appreciates that “they are willing to hear from the people that are working there.” He called both owners, Karine and Emmanuel Ernest, “nothing but great.”

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Le Macaron sits in what was previously an office space for the Cambridge Savings Bank. Karine Ernest called the bank an “incredible partner in this journey” of launching the pastry store.

She also previewed new flavors planned for the holiday season.

“For Christmas, we offer a gingerbread Christmas macaron, and then we also offer, in November, Pumpkin,” she said.

Noting that “it’s taken long” to set up Le Macaron in the Square, Karine Ernest advised other aspiring entrepreneurs to be persistent.

“Never forget your dream and pursue that dream, and don’t be discouraged,” she said. “The whole process may take longer than you anticipated, but if you stick by it, you’ll get there.”

“We are super excited to be in Harvard Square” Enest added. “We love the community, and we’re having fun.”

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Thrillist

Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Inc

In the age of Kindles and iPads, it’s easy to forget the feeling of holding a physical book. However, no matter their convenience, e-readers will never be able to replace the sense of joy and curiosity that arises from wandering through stacks of books, with their crisp pages and inimitable aroma.

Luckily, there are plenty of places in Boston dedicated to preserving that very experience. Boston is home to shops dedicated to poetry books, progressive book collectives, and, of course, popular new releases and bestsellers. So whether you’re looking to peruse or pick up your next great read, here are the best indie bookstores to visit in Boston.

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The Crimson

What’s New In the Square?

Harvard Square is a living, breathing, and ever-evolving organism. Shops, restaurants, and cafes come and go pretty often, and there have been (and will be) some major additions (and losses) to the heart of campus life. If you’re not sure what’s up with all the changes or what to expect in the next few months, here is your guide to what’s new in the Square.

Gong Cha

Long gone are the days when the somewhat perplexing Boston Tea Stop was the only boba place to rule the Square. A popular bubble tea chain but new to the Harvard scene, Gong Cha opened on Church Street this past summer and is already a hit with students. PSA: Flyby will be exploring their boba offerings quite thoroughly for purely scientific research purposes.

Taiyaki… to come!

Ah, yes: Taiyaki AKA Japanese fish-shaped waffle cake with sweet fillings AKA our personal kryptonite. We hope you’re just as excited as we were to hear that the incredibly popular ice cream shop by the same name is finally coming to Cambridge! While opening date details are still murky, definitely keep an eye out for when those delicious, Insta-friendly treats hit the tourist-heavy streets of Harvard.

Harvard Shop #3

R.I.P. beloved Starbucks. Yes, there is Peets, Capital One, Tatte, Darwin’s, and more Dunkin’s than I can count (and another Starbucks by the Quad) to fuel our coffee addictions. Even so, our central, ever-so-convenient Starbucks will be missed. The silver lining is that the new Harvard Shop’s merch is way cuter than any merch at the Coop AND you get a consistent student discount on most items. Do we really need three Harvard Shops in the Square? No. Do I love my new Harvard Shop hoodie? Very much so.

Corporate Jefe’s

While the cozy, homey and somewhat sweaty vibe of the original Jefe’s may be gone, the Square is now home to a giant, two-story, upgraded Jefe’s, complete with lots of indoor seating and standing room (check out Flyby’s full Jefe’s investigation here). The vibes are different and may take some getting used to, but our new late-night meal spot will still fulfill drunken cravings, impress with its fun decor, and definitely feel less cramped as you not-so-patiently wait for your burrito.

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Rock-climbing wall

If someone asked me to name 10 things (or maybe 50) that the Square is missing, I can’t say that a rock-climbing wall would be one of them. But, the new rock-climbing wall in F45 Training’s new Brattle Square location, is impressive. You can use their (not-so-generous) one-day free trial option to check it out and flex your climbing knowledge in front of everyone at CVS and Russel House.

Brattle Square Florist 2.0(ish)

Remember all those cute plants everyone got during the first week of classes? You can thank the ever-reliable Brattle Square Florist for those. After a few years of touch-and-go changes, this beloved family establishment has finally settled into their new location on 52 Brattle Street. If you’re scrambling for finishing touches on your dorm ahead of those wintertime sneaky links, you know where to visit first.

So long, &pizza

Controversial list of pros (personal pies and Snackpass immortality) and cons (insanely overpriced and subpar crusts) aside, it seems this Harvard Square staple has finally closed its doors. We can only wonder what will eventually take its place; after all, it’s pretty prime real estate right by the Red Line T stop. A laser tag arena? A Mini Bass Pro Shop? A 21+ Rainforest Cafe? Yet another Harvard Sh…?

The Macaron Store?!

Not quite what a college campus needs, but Le Macaron French Pastries’ macarons are delicious and beautiful. There are macarons in flavors including but definitely not limited to chocolate praline, birthday cake, lavender white chocolate, and passion fruit dark chocolate. If you ever want an extra fancy snack or to manifest your next Parisian vacation, this is the spot for you.

Though we’re always talking about popping the Harvard Bubble, don’t forget to also take some time to explore what’s in our own backyard! We promise Lamont and Cabot will always be right there when you return (for better or for worse). See y’all on the 2nd floor of Jefe’s!

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Boston Globe

ody Adams reflects on her new Greek restaurants, the future of Harvard Square, and her work ethic

‘I’m kind of a monster, and it’s been pointed out to me that I don’t feel pain.’

The Boston restaurant scene continues to change, but Dorchester’s Jody Adams, 65, is a constant. She comes from a different generation of Boston chefs: Todd English. Gordon Hamersley. Lydia Shire. Adams, who’s from Providence, arrived in Boston in the 1980s, working at restaurants such as Michela’s and Hamersley’s before opening Rialto in the Charles Hotel in 1994; it closed in 2016.

Harvard Square is also a changed place (more on that later), and her focus has changed, too. Now Adams runs Porto in the Back Bay; Trade in the Financial District; and a growing web of counter-service Greek restaurants, Saloniki, with locations in Harvard Square, Central Square, and the Fenway. Two new branches will open this month, one on Newbury Street and another on Beacon Hill.

“We’re incredibly proud of our spatchcock chicken,” says Adams, who loves Mediterranean food, because “it feels like home.”

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The Crimson

Students Mourn, Celebrate Relocated El Jefe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square

It was only the second day of class, but Sabrina M. “Rezzy” Reznik ’25 estimated she had visited El Jefe’s Taqueria “three or four times” since arriving on campus for the fall semester.

El Jefe’s, which has been a student hotspot since it opened in Harvard Square in 2015, relocated this August to a new storefront in the newly renovated Abbot building.

While the lines at new El Jefe’s move faster than it did at the old location, according to Reznik, “it doesn’t have the same ambiance that old Jefe’s did.”

“It’s the nostalgia,” Reznik said. “It’s walking in every time and remembering all the moments that you remember and more so, the moments you can’t remember — and enjoying that.”

The new location, which straddles Brattle Street and John F. Kennedy Street, lies just around the corner from its former location at The Garage, a longtime shopping mall in the Square.

The new space, which spans two floors and almost twice the square footage of its previous location, also offers increased menu options. El Jefe’s added al pastor steak as a new meat option when it opened in August, and the restaurant intends to apply for a full liquor license to serve frozen margaritas.

Many students said they enjoyed the new location, citing its spaciousness compared to the previous venue.

“It’s bigger, it’s less chaotic,” said Debjani “Debby” Das ’24, a Crimson Arts editor. “The main street has CVS and all the other stores anyway, so I feel like it’s more convenient.”

But for Reznik, part of her nostalgia for the old location is how hectic it would get late at night.

“It’s just the chaos and the excitement of not knowing if your burrito is going to be right,” she said. “Standing in that line and the classic ‘will Tasty Burger be faster’ debate — and it never is. ”

Several students said though the quality of the food remains unchanged, El Jefe’s signature late-night ambiance has disappeared with the old storefront.

“I don’t think the food’s any different, but I do think the atmosphere is different,” said senior Justin Y. C. Wong ’22. “Seems a bit more touristy than college — but I’ll still come.”

El Jefe’s regional manager Jon Eller said in an interview last month the taqueria left its venue in the Garage, which is slated to begin major renovations in the coming months, due to the prospect of shutting down while the shopping mall completed construction.

Samuel Y. Ho ’22-’23, who said he preferred El Jefe’s former location, said he may frequent Felipe’s Taqueria — a Mexican restaurant on the other side of Brattle Street — due to the proximity of the two restaurants since El Jefe’s relocation.

“Since I was in Eliot House, at least mentally, it seemed closer to go to Jefe’s,” Ho said. “Now, I think I’d be open to go into Felipe’s just as much.”

Other students felt indifference about the store’s relocation.

Lena M. Tinker ’25 said she believed the new space is “beautiful” but the location has not significantly changed her routine.

“It’s really half a block away,” said Tinker, a Crimson Arts editor. “For me, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. If I want to go, it’s late at night, whatever it is — it’s still right there.”

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Boston Restaurant Talk

Gong Cha to Open in Cambridge’s Harvard Square

 Taiwan-based chain that claims to be “one of the most recognized bubble tea brands around the world” is expanding again, this time opening another shop in Cambridge.

According to an article from boston.com, Gong Cha is opening in Harvard Square, moving into a space on Church Street. The post says that the upcoming place will offer the same options as the other locations, including bubble tea, slush, and other tea beverages, and it will join another store at CambridgeSide along with other locations locally in Boston, Burlington, Lowell, Malden, Natick, Peabody, and Quincy.

The new shop plans to open on September 9, according to the article.

The address for Gong Cha in Harvard Square is 50 Church Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138. The website for the chain is at https://www.gongchausa.com/