The Harvard Crimson

Chip City Cookies Set To Sweeten up Harvard Square in July

Chip City Cookies, a New York City-based company offering cookies that clock in at more than a third of a pound, will open a Harvard Square location at 1 Brattle Sq. in July — the latest business seeking to sweeten up the Square.

The new location will be the third Massachusetts outpost for the company, which has 37 locations dotting the East Coast.

The chain, founded in 2017 by Peter Phillips and Theodore Gailas, offers a rotating cookie menu that features its five top sellers — chocolate chip, s’mores, cookies and cream, confetti, and dairy-free chocolate chip — alongside a range of other options.

The rotating offerings include cookie flavors inspired by other desserts, such as baklava and cinnamon roll, nods to favorite snack items like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and even a “cookie butter cookie,” — something Gailas called “cookie-ception.”

“We make these giant ooey-gooey cookies. Crispy on the outside, gooey in the center,” Gailas said of his company’s product. “They’re pretty big. They’re about five and a half ounces each.”

Chip City began as a side gig for the cofounders, whose initial location in Queens, NY was only open a few days a week. After amassing a devoted following of cookie-lovers, the pair expanded to new cities but stayed focused on their signature product.

“We take pride in our ingredients,” Gailas said. “I think that’s what sets us apart.”

However, Chip City will not be the only cookie purveyor in the Square when they land in July. Insomnia Cookies, a campus mainstay on Mt. Auburn St., will also be vying for cookie fiends’ dollars.

Unlike Insomnia, which is open through 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, Chip City’s Boston location closes at 10 p.m. daily, and the new outpost is likely to be no exception.

Still, competition in the Harvard Square cookie business is nothing to worry about, according to Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, who likened the situation to the market for pizza.

“There are a whole bunch of Harvard kids who absolutely love Pinocchio’s. And then there’s another whole set that really love Joe’s. And there’s another whole set that think that Otto is absolutely the best or that Oggi Gourmet is the best,” Jillson said.

Jillson said she expects that just like the pizza restaurants did, Insomnia and Chip City will each settle into their own niche and be successful.

According to Jillson, cookie customers will “benefit” from having two cookie shops in the Square.

“When there’s competition, everybody sets that bar just a little bit higher,” Jillson said.


Cambridge’s first Black woman-owned dispensary opens

After two years of building and permitting delays, Harvard Square has a cannabis dispensary.

Zoom in: Yamba Boutique opened this week at 31 Church St., a small brick building that once housed a Cambridge police station.

  • The jail cell in the back is now an inventory room.
  • The boutique is a Black woman-owned dispensary catering to women, seniors, vets and queer people — really, anyone who hasn’t felt seen in the cannabis scene, says CEO Leah Samura.

Axios took a peek inside.

A shelving unit showing orange-tinted bongs, clay pipes and books behind the counter at Yamba Boutique in Cambridge.
The vast majority of non-regulated products — bongs, pipes, apparel — came from other Black woman-owned brands, CEO Leah Samura says. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
Yamba Boutique GM Shani Joseph, left, looks on as CEO Leah Samura, right, bends over to look at a laptop screen inside Yamba Boutique.
Yamba Boutique GM Shani Joseph, left, and CEO Leah Samura, right. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
A plaque at the entry of Yamba Boutique says: "On this site in 1864, a police station was built in the shadow of Harvard Univeristy, one of the most elite and historically white institutions in the country. Over 150 years later, this location is now the first majority woman-owned and 100% black owned cannabis establishment in Cambridge. Through education, accessibility and women's empowerment, Yamba Boutique is committed to ending the harmful and misguided persecution on cannabis use.""
A plaque stating Yamba’s mission at the entry. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
A black jacket that states "Buy Weed From Women" hands on the wall at Yamba Boutique, one of several pieces of apparel for sale at the dispensary.
Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
The Harvard Crimson

Cambridge’s Weed Policy Prioritized Social Justice. Some Dispensary Owners Say It’s Left Them High and Dry.

Since legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in 2018, Massachusetts has seen nearly $6 billion in recreational marijuana sales. But to some, Cambridge has failed to capitalize on this momentum.

When Leah Samura left her job in 2019 to open a cannabis business in Harvard Square, she didn’t know it would be five years before her shop — Yamba Boutique — opened its doors.

Yamba Boutique opened Sunday on Church Street, making it the latest entrant to the Cambridge cannabis market, alongside Western Front, Herbwell, Kush Groove, Blue River, and a sister Yamba location in Central Square.

The dispensaries have opened at a time when states across the country have increasingly warmed up to legal cannabis, both answering demands from activists to reverse what they see as overbearing and discriminatory laws and hoping to take advantage of a lucrative source of tax revenue.

Since legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in 2018, Massachusetts has seen nearly $6 billion in recreational marijuana sales.

But to some, Cambridge has failed to capitalize on this momentum.

When the city first established the permitting process for the newly legalized marijuana industry in 2018, it stipulated that from September 2019 to September 2021, only “Economic Empowerment” applicants could be considered for permits.

To qualify, prospective cannabis purveyors had to meet certain criteria laid out by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, such as being from an area disproportionately affected by the war or drugs or having majority Black or Latino ownership.

The moratorium was extended twice — in 2021 and 2023 — and now runs until September of this year.

Many dispensary owners praised Cambridge’s progressive approach to retail cannabis permitting, recognizing it as an important way to increase minority representation in local business.

But some said that the city’s policies — combined with the newness of the cannabis industry to both state and local regulators — have impeded the growth of the industry.

‘Remedying Past Wrongs’

When the city introduced its selective permitting process, it made clear that its goals were oriented around social justice. Its policies aimed to support minority entrepreneurs, especially those who were most sharply impacted by the war on drugs.

“They were extremely forward-moving given the regulatory structures they placed to give priority and preference to the minority-owned enterprises such as ourselves,” said Herbwell Cannabis co-owner Arish Halani.

Beyond enabling independent entrepreneurs to enter Cambridge’s cannabis industry, the city’s decision to prioritize EE applicants served partially to redress the harms of the war on drugs, according to Dennis Benzan, the co-owner of Western Front.

“It’s a way of remedying past wrongs,” Benzan in an interview.

Halani and his sister Sareena Halani opened Herbwell on Massachusetts Ave. last November — during what Arish called a “relatively slow” time of year for marijuana sales.

However, because of the head start afforded to EE cannabis business owners, the Halanis were able to weather the slow months as they waited for business to pick up.

“The moratorium was instrumental in leveling the playing field for people like us as minority entrepreneurs,” Sareena Halani said.

The moratorium on non-EE business owners prevented multi-state medical marijuana retailers from pivoting to recreational sales, corporations that Sareena Halani said would have been hard to compete with.

Benzan explained that careful allocation of retail cannabis permits could help reimagine an industry whose illicit nature had for so long made it damaging to those involved.

“The idea was to create wealth for communities of color that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs,” Benzan said.

‘Winners and Losers’

While many supported Cambridge’s selective cannabis permitting, some have criticized the moratorium as being too restrictive.

Sean D. Hope, a co-owner of Central Square’s Yamba Market and Harvard Square’s Yamba Boutique, said that the limited pool of potential business owners created by the EE program made it harder to raise money or find partners for a Cambridge-based cannabis business.

“Because of the way these empowerment licenses are set up, you are extremely limited on raising capital, bringing in partners, doing the things that businesses need to do,” said Hope.

Hope said that the ban on non-EE applicants “made a lot of sense” when Cambridge was first handing out cannabis permits, but that now “business owners are dealing with market realities.”

“I think this is where well-intentioned government says, ‘We’re gonna pick winners and losers,’ right?” Hope said.

Still, he called for the city to loosen its approach.

“Just allow us the opportunity and the flexibility and let the market decide,” Hope said.

“If you give someone a special license without the flexibility and options, you really created a system that’s doomed to fail,” he added.

In addition, some expressed disappointment that the selective permitting extinguished a chance to put the resources of large brands to work for independent retailers.

Samura said that without the moratorium, corporations with deep pockets would have been allowed to enter the Cambridge market, creating taxable revenue that could have gone to support minority business owners.

In a 2021 interview with The Crimson, she said that the exclusivity period could cost her and other cannabis entrepreneurs millions of dollars.

In a recent interview, she said her stance has not changed.

“I still feel the same. I feel like if we would have done that…” Samura trailed off. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”

‘We Don’t Have Millionaire Family Members’

Despite concerns, the city maintained that the moratorium provided a necessary head start for business that otherwise would have been overtaken by better-resourced companies.

“The efforts to prioritize economic empowerment and social equity applicants was motivated by the understanding that, without implementing priority groups, existing companies could potentially transition or expand their businesses into cannabis retail businesses and prevent new, locally owned businesses from having a chance to succeed,” Jeremy C. Warnick, a city spokesperson, wrote in an emailed statement.

In addition to concerns about medical marijuana providers pivoting to recreational retail, some have expressed concerns that the entry of national recreational cannabis retailers could push independent operators out.

One example of this came when Cookies Cannabis, a Los Angeles-based dispensary chain, faced pushback when its planned opening was announced in 2020.

But Samura disputed the validity of these criticisms, asserting that partnering with a large brand like Cookies is often the only way a local entrepreneur can make it in the cannabis industry.

“We don’t have millionaire family members,” Samura said. “I think that it’s unfair, that people want to tell other people how they should make it in the business.”

Competition, she said, is simply a part of being an entrepreneur, no matter who those competitors are.

“There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts here, you cross the street and there’s a Starbucks,” Samura said. “You know what I mean? It’s just the nature of businesses.”

For Hope, Samura, Benzan, and the Halanis, the attempt to promote minority representation in the Cambridge cannabis industry served an important purpose. Still, they said, it had a flawed execution.

“You have these artificial rules that aren’t really based on business principles, which are coming to roost,” Hope said.

The Crimson

Hit-and-Run Shatters Window at Wholesome Fresh

Local grocery store Wholesome Fresh suffered a hit-and-run on Sunday night, leaving a store-front window shattered.

CPD spokesperson Robert Goulston wrote that a motor vehicle “struck a street sign” in front of the grocery store, fleeing the scene before the police arrived.

“The sign broke away from its base and went into the window of the business, shattering the glass,” Goulston wrote in an email to The Crimson.

Wholesome Fresh – a grocery store located at the corner of Church and Brattle Street — has operated in Harvard Square since 2018.

According to Goulston, a pedestrian was sprayed with broken glass during the incident. The individual was treated by medics on the scene but suffered no visible injuries and refused any further care or treatment.

Rigo Pérez — an employee at Wholesome Fresh — said that debris from the crash was littered on the store’s floor when he arrived at work on Monday.

“It was pretty bad,” he said. “Even in the morning, when I showed up to work, it was like pieces of glass everywhere.”

The driver of the vehicle remains unknown to authorities.

The store opened as normal on Monday and Pérez said the window will be fixed on Tuesday.

Boston Globe

Two-day event to celebrate the glory of Grolier Bookshop; All She Wrote Books turns five; and more

A weekly roundup of literary news and events from around the region

Two-day event to celebrate the glory of Grolier Bookshop

A two-part event next week celebrates the glory of the potent and storied Grolier Poetry Bookshop, tiny temple to poets and poetry in Harvard Square. On Monday, April 15, an oral history conversation will unfold with Fanny Howe, Gail Mazur, Carol Menkiti, Robert Pinsky, and John Yau. Lloyd Schwartz will moderate the conversation, which has been co-curated by the Grolier’s tireless manager James Fraser. The event, sponsored and curated by the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard, will also include archival recordings and photographs from the Grolier’s near-century of existence. At an informal reception afterward, a pop-up installation will feature more photographs, some little-seen images by the late Cambridge photographer Elsa Dorfman among them. Part two of the celebration, on Tuesday, April 16, involves a Community Megaphone Recording Session at the shop itself. Between 2 and 7 p.m., visitors will be welcome to record recollections of the Grolier and perspectives on the place. Reservations are required. The event on Monday, free and open to the public, takes place at 6 p.m. at the Forum Room at Lamont Library at Harvard. The recording sessions will take place at the Grolier, 6 Plympton St., Cambridge. For more information and to reserve a time, visit


The fast-casual Mexican restaurant that became a Cambridge nightlife hub

AMBRIDGE — On warm weekend nights in Harvard Square, a line of young people wraps around a brick building, eagerly awaiting entry into a nightlife hub in the country’s original college town.

They come in droves ready to party at . . . a fast-casual Mexican restaurant.

Behold: Felipe’s Taqueria, where cheap burritos and margaritas, and a large rooftop bar draws crowds from Cambridge and beyond.

“I feel like [the roof deck] is just sort of undoubtedly always fun,” said Simone Unwalla, a 26-year-old Harvard Law School student who frequents the restaurant. “There’s always a decent amount of people up there.”

This unique feature has transformed Felipe’s from a quick-service taqueria into that plus a destination for people seeking a night out with fresh air under the stars.Expand article logo  Continue reading

“In terms of being able to offer a variety of experiences, I think that certainly Felipe’s is unique in that aspect,” said Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

The space is about as versatile as they come. The lower level is complete with large windows facing the street (a people watcher’s dream), a build-your-own-burrito station boasting a wood grill, and a full bar in the back. There’s also a mezzanine with extra seating that gazes out onto the flow of customers below. And, of course, there’s the game-changing x-factor, a roof deck with umbrellas, string lights, and a bar of its own.

Cambridge Day

Plan to enliven Harvard Square’s Palmer Street reimagines Coop Annex with restaurant spaces

A rendering from a March 6 meeting shows proposed restaurant space on Palmer Street in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. (Image: Harvard Square Advisory Committee)

Harvard University plans to reuse the empty former Coop Annex building at 12-30 Palmer St. for new commercial ventures and outdoor space, part of a plan to make Harvard Square more walkable and engaging. One idea presented March 6 to the Harvard Square Advisory Committee is for the first floor to be used as a restaurant space that could have the facade open during good weather.

The alley is a blocklong shared space for business, pedestrians and delivery trucks famous mostly for having the folk venue Club Passim at its Church Street end; the Brattle Street end is less busy but has been a reliable space for buskers to set up and in 2018 got an Instagrammable set of angel wings painted on a brick wall by artist Jason Talbot – just stand in front of them and have someone take the picture. Between the cross streets are artful, if lesser-used, benches.

Cambridge Day

Brett Angell’s ‘Night Studio’ lets passersby peer at any hour into an artist’s moonlight moments

On view in the narrow windows of the 25/8 gallery in Harvard Square, “Night Studio” is a playful ode to how artists work in the dead of night, with all its creative possibility. The exhibition showcases the work of Boston’s Brett Angell, who recently exhibited his distinctive cigar box paintings at Brookline’s Praise Shadows Art Gallery.

Thanks to the gallery’s 24-hour access, viewers can enjoy the wonders of “Night Studio” long after surrounding museums closed their doors. It’s one of the most inventive uses so far of the new space, and full of small treasures. A mock studio sets the stage for the exhibition to the side. Paint brushes, sketchbooks and lamps crowd a table; the books contain sketches for many of the moon, bird and spaceship motifs that echo through the rest of the show. A jacket – presumably Angell’s – hangs on a wooden chair, as though the artist is settling in for a long night’s work.

Paintings dress the walls, many laden with alien and tentacle imagery. Angell even makes use of the window sills, arranging over a dozen paintings there. For such a small space, there’s a truly incredible amount of work on view –  yet it doesn’t look crowded. It’s no surprise that the salon-style hangings of Angell, a senior staff member at the MFA, are masterful. He has all the resourcefulness you’d expect from a professional exhibitions preparator, making masterful use of what’s available to him.

“Night Studio” is a must-see; and thanks to 25/8’s 24/7 hours, it’s easy to squeeze in a visit whenever your schedule allows.

The show was curated by Yutong Shi.

25/8 artspace, 2 Linden St., Harvard Square, Cambridge 

Harvard Independent

Here’s the Tea on Bubble Tea

Ten One Tea House: Harvard Square’s newest boba addition.

If you are an avid bubble tea fan, like many college students are, here is some exciting news: on March 1, a brand new bubble tea shop, Ten One Tea House, opened in Harvard Square on the corner of JFK and Winthrop Street. This Boston-area chain has finally come to Harvard’s campus. Priding itself on “artisanal healthy drinks for tea lovers,” according to its website, Ten One Tea House has achieved great popularity on social media, amassing over 3000 followers on Instagram.  

This location might ring a bell to Harvard bubble tea connoisseurs—it was once home to Möge Tee, a bubble tea shop known for its fruit slushes and frappe-style teas. If you were one of the Harvard students sad to see Möge Tee go, no need to sweat. Ten One Tea House offers equally promising fruit slushes while setting itself apart with its assortment of milk and green teas. 

Ten One Tea House, a chain like Möge Tee, has other noteworthy locations in the Boston vicinity, such as Somerville, Fenway, and Newbury. Cambridge’s Ten One Tea House maintains a pristine interior with its white walls, illuminated menu, and sophisticated furniture, making it more luxurious than its bubble tea shop counterparts. The shop’s sophisticated aesthetic seems to translate into the tea flavors they offer on the menu: osmanthus honey, Earl Grey milk tea, and strawberry green tea, to name a few. Even if these untraditional flavors are not your cup of tea, Ten One Tea House has many staple flavors to appeal to the more conservative bubble tea drinker, such as brown sugar, matcha, or taro milk tea.

Another intriguing aspect of this bubble tea shop is its variety of toppings. When we went earlier in March to try their bubble tea, we asked for matcha latte milk teas with boba. In terms of price and size of the drinks, Ten One Tea House is on par with the other shops in the Square, to the dismay of bubble tea fans who may want a less expensive alternative. But, its creative flavors are what very noticeably set the shop apart.

The worker asked us to clarify which type of boba we wanted. To our surprise, we learned that they had three other types of boba in addition to brown sugar: white honey, blue butterfly, and dragon fruit. Tiger Sugar only offers the traditional brown sugar tapioca option, and while Kung Fu Tea has variety in its toppings, it has none of the same flavors. Our original conception of the bubble tea places was that there was not much disparity in the quality or variety of their teas. Knowing the differences in their menus, not only will it be fun to vary up your bubble tea outings when strolling through Harvard Square, but now you can build your excitement to try a more novel option.

With the existing knowledge that Möge Tee had to shut its doors, does Harvard Square really need another boba shop? Shops like Kung Fu Tea, Gong Cha, and Tiger Sugar are already clearly established in the Square, so what is the benefit of adding another destination for bubble tea? This skepticism, however, may fade after giving Ten One Tea House a chance. 

What does Ten One Tea House bring to the table? The shop’s attention to the quality and variety of its ingredients, as well as its expansive menu options, make Ten One Tea House extra special. But will this be enough to compete with the rest of the boba shops in the area? Only time will tell. Ten One Tea House’s unique array of flavors holds the potential for a promising future. If one craves a sweet drink with notes of fruitiness and fragrant tea, then this is the new ideal boba shop to try.