The Crimson

Fishy Business: Ice Cream Store Taiyaki NYC to Open Harvard Square Location in July

Taiyaki NYC will open its second Massachusetts location on Church St. in Harvard Square.

Taiyaki NYC will open its second Massachusetts location on Church St. in Harvard Square. By Miles J. Herszenhorn

By Miles J. Herszenhorn, Crimson Staff Writer

July 1, 2022

Soft serve ice cream store Taiyaki NYC will open a Harvard Square location in July, joining a growing number of chains setting up shop in the area.

Taiyaki NYC, which serves ice cream in fish-shaped waffles, gained fame on social media channels like Instagram and TikTok for its aesthetically-pleasing menu options. Its Harvard Square location will be the chain’s second store in Massachusetts.

Jimmy Chen, a co-founder of Taiyaki NYC, wrote in an email that the Harvard location will open at 6 Church St. — the former home of the clothing store Mint Julep, which has since moved to 43 Battle St. — in mid- to late July. The ice cream store will later be joined by the Dough Club, a sibling Japanese mochi doughnut store.

Taiyaki NYC will compete with the ice cream options currently available in the Square, which include Ben & Jerry’s, J.P. Licks, Milk Bar, Berryline, Lizzy’s, and Amorino Gelato.

Even before its official opening, some Harvard students said they will choose to frequent Taiyaki NYC over its other ice cream competitors.

Abiba Imam Dyuti ’24 said the store’s iconic waffle cone will be the deciding factor for her.

“The Taiyaki cone — I love it,” Dyuti said. “The Taiyaki cone itself is in this fish shape, but they also have this bear shape which is also cute.”

“It tastes really good,” she added.

Taiyaki NYC’s cones are an adaptation of an eponymous traditional Japanese treat.

Taiyaki NYC’s cones are an adaptation of an eponymous traditional Japanese treat. By Miles J. Herszenhorn

Taiyaki NYC’s emblematic cones are an adaptation of a traditional Japanese treat. Filled with red bean paste, taiyaki — which translates to “baked fish” — are fish-shaped cakes served as street food. The ice cream shop also offers traditional Japanese teas like matcha and hōjicha as soft serve flavors.

Nicole J. Bugliosi ’24 said she likes Taiyaki NYC because of its unique ice cream.

“You can’t really get it anywhere else,” Bugliosi said. “It just makes it really fun.”

While Taiyaki NYC offers six soft serve flavors, Bugliosi said she does not plan on being adventurous.

“I’m kind of boring, so I always get vanilla,” she said. “But if you want to try more interesting flavors, they have them.”

Julian F. Schmitt ’22-’23 said if Taiyaki NYC is similarly priced to other ice cream spots around campus, he expects it to be “on the expensive side.” (Ice cream served in the fish-shaped waffle cone costs eight dollars at Taiyaki NYC’s Boston Seaport location.)

“I guess what you’re paying for [is] the experience as opposed to necessarily the ice cream,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt added “the price is a deterrent” for him from frequenting Taiyaki NYC, but he did not rule out visiting once.

“I would be excited to go in and look around and see what’s there,” he said.

While Cambridge faces freezing winters for a large part of the school year, students said that snow, rain, or shine, they will not be stopped from getting ice cream in the Square throughout the year.

“Ice cream is best when it’s cold,” Dyuti said. “It doesn’t matter what season it is and what temperature it is.”

“Sometimes you just want ice cream,” she added.

Harvard Magazine

The End of the Harvard Square Pit

Reconstruction of a local landmark begins soon.



The Pit

Photograph by Niko Yaitanes/Harvard Magazine

ON A HOT June afternoon, the Harvard Square Pit was quiet. In the submerged hangout spot beside the entrance to the MBTA’s Red Line station, pigeons outnumbered people even as commuters whizzed to and from work. Soon, these passersby will be staring at fences: in early July, the city of Cambridge will begin demolishing the Pit, a famous eighties and nineties enclave for free spirits, misfits, castaways, and those craving some spontaneous companionship.

The scene was a stark contrast to the “Pit-A-Palooza” festivities held a few days earlier on June 25. At the Saturday evening celebration of the popular counterculture locale, hosted (perhaps surprisingly) by the city of Cambridge and Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA), guests moshed to punk music, smoked marijuana, and reminisced about a spot that had served such a big part of their lives. 

Cambridge City Councilor Marc McGovern, who helped organize the event, remembered hanging out in the Pit in 1983 as a 14-year-old “pseudo punk rocker” who donned spike hair, a leather jacket, and combat boots. “And so I gravitated to that scene,” he says in an interview. “I spent a lot of hours in that pit.” The “Pit kids” or “Pit rats” he encountered varied widely in background. Some were homeless or estranged from their families. Others were dropped off by parents in BMWs and searched for a sense of community they couldn’t find at school. “Everybody sort of came together there,” he recalls, “which is what made it so interesting.” Author Jen Deaderick, another co-host of the event, often visited the Pit from her childhood home in Brookline. She stressed how important the spot was for teenagers at a time with no cell phones. “If you wanted to find your friends, you would just go to a place where your friends already hung out,” she says. “And so that was what the Pit was.” 

Often, the Pit community provided support to those who really needed it. When a group tried to jump McGovern in Harvard Square, some of the older “Pit kids” told the group to leave him alone. “I ended up becoming friends with them over the years—and still am friends with them,” he says. “And so, that was something that always stuck out for me—feeling like, ‘Okay, I do kind of belong here.’” Many resonate with that feeling of belonging. A Facebook page dedicated to the Harvard Pit has grown to more than 2,000 members since its creation in 2020; in the last month alone, members have shared hundreds of stories, photos, and videos of a place that held great importance for them.  

While the Pit was a supportive place for many, a joint statement from the HSBA and the City of Cambridge reminded readers that the Pit was not always a safe place. “Some of the [Pit] rats were victims of violence and sexual assault,” the statement reads, “and their experiences are the dark side of this otherwise positive experience.” In 2001, gang members sexually assaulted and murdered 22-year-old Io Nachtwey, a homeless woman from Hawaii, and tried to recruit Pit kids into an organized crime ring. “It’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t all good,” McGovern says. “There were a lot of people who had really traumatic experiences there.” 

Now, the sunken hangout spot will be replaced with a more level plaza with ample seating that will bring the area into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Denise Jillson, executive director of the HSBA, says the idea has been in the works since 2011, when her organization asked a landscape architect to help restore the famous Harvard Square Kiosk (which is protected by its listing on the National Register of Historic Places) and the surrounding area. They approached the Cambridge City Council in 2012 with more of a vision than a precise plan. Nearly a decade later, in 2021, with $8.3 million in funding from the city, work on the kiosk began. (It is no longer home to Out of Town News, and is in fact being converted into a visitor center—to the regret of newsstand patrons.) She says construction on the Pit will begin within the first two weeks of July—not long after the Pit-A-Palooza event. 

As a result, the plaza will be out of commission for a while; she predicts between 18 and 24 months. (The City estimates a completion date in November 2022 for the kiosk and 2023 for the plaza.) McGovern looks forward to the changes. “I hope that [the construction] gets the area back to being a place where people gather,” he says. “It really hasn’t been that for a long time.”


This Cambridge dispensary caters to women, LGBTQ and older customers

Leah Samura, a Black woman, stands outside what will be her new dispensary.
Leah Samura’s mission is to sell cannabis to your friends, parents and grandparents. Photo courtesy of Leah Samura

Harvard Square’s first cannabis dispensary — and its first Black-woman-owned business — is on track to open in September, CEO Leah Samura tells Axios.

Driving the news: Yamba Boutique is undergoing architectural review as Samura prepares for its opening.

  • It would be the city’s second dispensary. Central Square’s Yamba Market — owned by Samura’s husband, Sieh, and their business partner, Sean Hope — was the first.

Why it matters: The state’s fast-growing cannabis industry remains predominantly white and male, with Black and brown entrepreneurs mostly shut out of financing and commercial real estate opportunities.

  • The state has an application process for license holders who were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, or who live in communities affected by it.
Cambridge Day

Pit-A-Palooza farewell party for Harvard Square sounded, moshed and even smelled like old times

Home | Arts + Culture

By Victoria Rein

Monday, June 27, 2022

Last revised on: Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The crowd Saturday at Pit-A-Palooza in Harvard Square. (Photo: Victoria Rein)

A farewell party to Harvard Square’s “Pit” on Saturday – officially, Pit-A-Palooza – sparked nostalgia in several ways.

“There’s the cheap weed I remember,” a man in the crowd could be heard saying as community members lit up joints.

The event brought hundreds to the famed Pit, the area directly surrounding the Harvard Square subway station headhouse that’s due to be removed in a redesign of the brick plaza because of noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Pit, a sunken area built in 1982 for public gatherings, was adopted by the Boston punk scene and other outcasts and unhoused youth as a place to gather and hang out without judgment.

Author Jen Deaderick, one of the event’s organizers with city councillor Marc McGovern, summarized the spirit of The Pit during a short speech: “We’re all freaks and weirdos.”

The band Colin of Arabia performs Saturday at Pit-A-Palooza. (Photo: Victoria Rein)

Now 54, Dave Unger first stumbled on The Pit and its subculture when he was just 12 years old while visiting his aunt in Central Square on weekends.

“We used to come up here and I would see the punks in The Pit and I was like, ‘Wow, these people are fucking cool,’” said Dave Unger, a veteran of Pit culture. “We’d party in The Pit – we couldn’t go to bars, we weren’t 21 – so that’s what we used to do, hang out in The Pit, go see ‘Rocky Horror’ over at the Harvard movie theater.” (Midnight shows of the cult 1975 film were a staple at the 10 Church St. AMC Loews Harvard Square 5 from 1984 to the cinema’s closing in July 2012.)

The Pit and Harvard Square plaza in a quiet moment in March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Live music was common in The Pit over the years, an aspect honored with a concert by Boston-based metal band Colin of Arabia.

The air smelled of sweat and marijuana as energetic fans surrounded frontman Colin Campbell, jumping and dancing – a genuine-seeming enjoyment of a commemorative concert lived in the moment, true to the spirit of the original, self-proclaimed pit kids or pit rats.

Fyrestar, a member of the performance group Full Body Cast, which brought some “Rocky Horror Picture Show” performances to the Saturday event (and who preferred to be referred to by an alias), attended Northeastern in the ’90s and said The Pit is where she and her friends would hang out.

Among those at Pit-A-Palooza on Saturday was one person with a sign saying “Keep The Pit, Lose the Rats in City Hall & the HSBA,” or Harvard Square Business Association. (Photo: Victoria Rein)

“Everybody was welcome here, everybody got along. There would be people drawing, painting, it was great,” she said. “It’s the end of an era, really. I hope the spirit lives on in the new plaza. I hope it’s as welcoming and no-judgment as it’s always been.”

Though eventgoers seemed to understand the value of making the T stop ADA-compliant, many expressed sadness at the thought of The Pit’s destruction.

“I don’t know, it’s like the Boston Common – just a Boston thing that should always be here,” Unger said. “It’s a bummer, man. It’s a fucking shame.”

The celebration ran from 6 to 10 p.m. and included a beer garden, a fundraiser for the Bridge Over Troubled Waters medical van and Narcan opioid-overdose response training in addition to the entertainment to mark Pit Rat Day in Harvard Square.

Though renovations to the plaza mean “we will lose the physical appearance of The Pit, this area will continue to be a welcoming place for young people to gather,” McGovern said.


One last hang at the Pit in Harvard Square

The organizers of Pit-A-Palooza are aware of the irony. They’re putting on an organized, permitted event to celebrate the impending demise of Harvard Square’s longtime home of anarchy, spontaneity and youth culture: the Pit.

The sunken area behind the entrance to the Harvard MBTA station was originally designed with the intent of showcasing street performers — and at times it did. But within months of being unveiled as part of the 1982 Red Line extension, the Pit became a gathering place for punks and outcasts. With renovations about to replace the Pit with a plaza, a group of self-described “Pit Rats” are gathering for a reunion and celebration called Pit-A-Palooza on June 25.

Dig Boston


Now here is an event fit for more than a few former DigBoston contributors.

Long live the Pit! Here’s what the organizers are planning … 

The City of Cambridge, City Councillor Marc McGovern, Cambridge resident and author, Jen Deaderick and the Harvard Square Business Association are excited to announce Pit-A-Palooza, a celebration of the notorious and revered Harvard Square “Pit” and those who called it home. The festivities kick off at 6pm in The Pit and adjacent Dunster Street. Relive the glory days of the 80s and 90s and dance, reminisce, sing and make some noise! Bring your old photos! Dress the part – drag out your fishnets, leather and studs! Show your kids how cool you were!

In conjunction with the honoring this much loved and storied gathering spot, the City of Cambridge has proclaimed June 25, 2022 to be “Pit Rat Day”.

Broadway World

Harvard Square Celebrates Juneteenth​​​​​​​ With Spotlight, Mirror And Book, A Fleeting Art Installation

Spotlight, Mirror and Book, composed with LED lights and a round metal mirror, will be set up at in front of the statue.

Juneteenth or Freedom Day, commemorates the end of enslavement for African descendants of the transatlantic slave trade. While the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 publicly declared the end of slavery in the United States, freedom was not fully realized for enslaved people in Texas until June 19th, 1865.

To commemorate Juneteenth, the Harvard Square Business Association, in partnership with local artists, Ross Miller and Yolanda He Yang, is installing a fleeting art…

Broadway World

PIT-A-PALOOZA: A Celebration Of The Harvard Square Pit Announced June 25

The festivities kick off at 6pm in The Pit and adjacent Dunster Street. Relive the glory days of the 80s and 90s and dance, reminisce, sing and make some noise!

The City of Cambridge, City Councillor Marc McGovern, Cambridge resident and author, Jen Deaderick and the Harvard Square Business Association have announced Pit-A-Palooza, a celebration of the notorious and revered Harvard Square “Pit” and those who called it home.

The festivities kick off at 6pm in The Pit and adjacent Dunster Street. Relive the glory days of the 80s and 90s and dance, reminisce, sing and make some noise! Bring your old photos! Dress the part – drag out your fishnets, leather and studs! Show your kids how cool you were!

In conjunction with the honoring this much loved and storied gathering spot, the City of Cambridge has proclaimed June 25, 2022 to be “Pit Rat Day”.

The Crimson

A Comprehensive Harvard Square Restaurant Guide

Harvard Square is known for many things — throngs of students, a rich history of artistic and musical exchange, sky-high rents, arguably overpriced yet beloved stationary stores — but the food scene is not necessarily one of them. Still, thousands of hungry people pass through the Square every day, some on their way to class or the office, others headed to rub the pee-shined toe of not-John Harvard himself. Here is our somewhat definitive guide to the various food experiences of Harvard Square, organized roughly by the situation in which each spot might prove most useful.

It’s time to… splurge (reasonably!) and eat well: Orinoco + Maharaja + Dumpling House + Nine Tastes

Tired of cooking yourself the same kind of meals night after night? Hoping to experience some variety that your dining hall can’t offer? Harvard Square is as good a spot as any to mix it up and get a delicious meal you might not have tried before. Tucked away behind other businesses that line JFK Street, Orinoco offers a cozy atmosphere for enjoying delicious Venezuelan cuisine, ranging from arepas and empanadas to South American wines. Right across the street lies The Maharaja, one of Boston’s best Indian restaurants with an extensive menu and a prime view of the Square through their floor-to-ceiling windows. Dumpling House is located a bit farther off of the beaten path, but their fantastic Chinese cuisine makes a trip down Mass. Ave. well worth the walk. Their food is best enjoyed family-style, so get a group together and devour as many dumplings as you can manage! With the recent closure of Spicies, Nine Tastes stands as the preeminent Thai restaurant in Harvard Square. It’s a favorite for takeout among college students, but has a great area for dining in, too.

It’s time to… grab a slice of pizza: Pinocchio’s + Otto’s + &pizza + Source

If you find yourself in Harvard Square with a craving for some good old-fashioned pizza, you are in luck — the area is full of great options. Pinocchio’s is a Cambridge staple, a favorite among Harvard students and locals alike since 1966. Their thick-crust Sicilian style pizza, which they sell by the slice, makes an excellent late-night snack. Don’t sleep on their meatball sub or baked ziti either. For those in search of less traditional flavors, Otto’s offers a wide array of toppings guaranteed to satisfy any niche cravings. Customization is also at the heart of the &pizza experience, as the East Coast chain’s relatively new Cambridge location serves personal-sized pizzas to customers looking for quick and easy takeout. Finally, Source — another new entry into the Harvard Square restaurant scene — is the only pizza spot out of this bunch with a full-service, sit-down dining area, as well as a thriving bar.

It’s time to… enjoy some high-end pub food: Daedalus + The Boathouse + Grafton Street + Russell House

Food and drink intertwine seamlessly at these Harvard Square establishments. All restaurants are with prominent bars, but they’re also all a step above your typical pub — both in price and quality of food. Daedalus and The Boathouse are next-door neighbors on Mt. Auburn Street, while Russell House and Grafton Street both line JFK Street, making all four of these spots incredibly convenient meeting spots for friends, colleagues, and tourists alike. They each offer tasty variations of American cuisine alongside extensive alcohol selections; Russell House is probably the most popular amongst students, although none of these restaurants would be mistaken for a college bar. They cater to a distinctly more professional crowd. Daedalus stands out as the most expensive, although those looking to splurge on a night out will appreciate the fine dining experience they offer.

Boston Globe

The woman in the mural: May warrior in PFAS battle rest more peacefully

A mural by Be Sargent alongside the former Harvard Square Theater on Church Street in Cambridge honors the advocacy of the Women's Community Cancer Project.
A mural by Be Sargent alongside the former Harvard Square Theater on Church Street in Cambridge honors the advocacy of the Women’s Community Cancer Project.SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF

I saw the article “State sues companies over PFAS: Healey alleges firms knew about toxic ‘forever chemicals’ ” (Metro, May 27) and thought of my late friend Margo Simon Golden. PFAS are a toxic chemical found in multiple items, including fire-retardant foam. The runoff from these “forever chemicals” leaches into groundwater, leading to a host of health problems including breast cancer.

Margo was always upbeat and one of the healthiest people I knew, exercising and eating a healthy diet. It was a surprise to us all when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 30s.

When the cancer was in remission, she researched the data on the disease. She told me that there was a higher incidence of breast cancer in Andover, where she grew up. She threw herself into volunteering, most notably with the Women’s Community Cancer Project and the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, where she was elected board president.