The Crimson

Lê’s Vietnamese Restaurant Set to Leave Harvard Square Due to Garage Renovations

Lê’s Vietnamese Restaurant is set to relocate to Boston’s Chinatown due to renovations slated for the Garage Building — a shopping mall located at 36 JFK St. where the restaurant is currently housed.

The precise timing of the restaurant’s move remains unclear and depends on the Garage’s redevelopment, which was approved by the Cambridge Historical Commission in June 2021. El Jefe’s Taqueria and Ben and Jerry’s previously operated within the Garage before moving to different locations in the Square last year.

Trinity Property Management, the company in charge of the Garage’s renovations, will give Lê’s three months’ notice before the restaurant will be required to relocate, according to Lê’s manager Vinh Le.

According to Le, because Trinity Group Management has not given the restaurant an indication of when renovations will begin, the timeline for the restaurant’s relocation is unclear.

“I just know that they’re gonna rebuild and do construction,” Le said.

Many students said they are saddened and surprised to see the Harvard Square favorite depart.

Noah S. Lee ’22-’23 said he “definitely felt devastated” and “very, very surprised” when he learned about Lê’s relocation.

“It’s definitely the best phở on campus,” Lee said. “I think having a Vietnamese restaurant on campus is also just really awesome for the community.”

Lee said Lê’s was one of the first restaurants he tried in Cambridge when he arrived on campus for Visitas, a program for prospective admitted freshmen to experience Harvard.

“A couple of my upperclassmen friends grabbed me by the arm and said, ‘Hey, you have to try Lê’s,’” Lee said. “This is a staple on campus.”

Lucas H. Amory ’24 said he was “shocked and bewildered” by Lê’s relocation, adding that the restaurant holds sentimental value for him and other Harvard students.

“You go to Lê’s for social interaction,” Amory said. “Lê’s is there for you to bond with other people as well.”

“It feels like one part of the soul of Harvard that you kind of expect to be there for you,” Amory added.

Students said a large part of Lê’s charm lies in its convenience and prices.

“The service is really good,” Veronica A. Li ’26 said. “It’s really fast, and the prices aren’t too bad.”

Li added that she believes Lê’s added “some variety amongst all the ramen shops” in the area. In recent years, several ramen restaurants have opened their doors in the Square.

Matthew E. Nekritz ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, said he finds it “really sad” to see local favorites depart from the Square.

“It’ll be really interesting to see what comes up,” Nekritz said, adding that he believes the restaurant scene is “definitely shifting.”

Even as Lê’s prepares for its move, Griffin H. Wong ’24 said the restaurant will always hold a “special place” in his heart.

“Lê’s is the first place where I really felt like I belonged at Harvard,” said Wong, a former Crimson Sports chair.

“It’s definitely a big loss for the Square,” he added.

The Crimson

Build, Cambridge, Build

Möge Tee, the fourth bubble tea shop in Harvard Square, is now open for business. With this new store joining the ranks of other post-pandemic players like Blue Bottle and Tiger Sugar, the Square has never been more welcoming and alluring to budding beverage connoisseurs — the kind willing to drop upwards of $6 on a tea or latte, that is.

To be clear, we have nothing against bubble tea. We believe food can serve as a practical, delectable entrance point to a variety of cultures and we reject the potential conflation of diverse food options with inaccessibility as both misguided and demonstrably false. But even as we maintain the value of cultural food options in the Square, the new bubble tea shop’s opening reminds us of a problem that has long plagued Harvard Square: the affordability crisis.

With a cost of living 75 percent higher than the national average, students and residents in Cambridge suffer from a lack of cheap food options — and only exceedingly wealthy student groups can readily afford to own off-campus social spaces, atrophying social life. It often feels like Harvard Square is built for wealthy tourists, with storefronts featuring a saturation of luxury brands and restaurants that many Harvard students would likely never consider stepping foot into (or risk draining their wallets by doing so).

Amidst a national reckoning on land use, we, too, must reckon with the larger, structural forces that shape the shops we pass, but hardly enter, on our way to class. We’re talking about zoning codes.

Cambridge zoning regulations have a distinct set of rules governing fast food. Regulating everything from the restaurant exterior’s sensitivity to the “visual and physical characteristics of other buildings” to effects on double parking and neighborhood safety, Cambridge has effectively constructed a massive roadblock to new quick-service and affordable food establishments.

Some of the results: $1.6 million for the average Cambridge family home. $14 salad at Sweetgreen, but no McDonalds in the Square. Packed bars without empty tables as early as 10 p.m. An abundance of beverage shops with menu items priced at or higher than half the hourly minimum wage.

In one of the most liberal cities in America, low-income residents and low-price businesses have found themselves victims of a wealthy gatekeeping policy — one with disproportionate negative effects on unhoused residents, whose housing insecurity is overwhelmingly due to rising rent prices in the city.

We don’t claim to know the full solution to our pricing woes. But one step is dizzyingly obvious: Allow more houses and restaurants to be built, thereby lowering property prices. The city of Cambridge and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts need to loosen their overly restrictive zoning regulations. And they need to do this now.

It’s equally obvious that zoning codes are not the only upward pressure on urban prices, and that cheaper commercial properties do not necessarily translate to cheaper options for consumers. But, by definition, zoning laws constrain what can be built and who can afford commercial and residential space. This isn’t just a Cambridge problem; it’s happening all across the U.S.

At a time when affordable housing supply trails demand by nearly four million units, restrictions like large minimum lot sizes, single-family occupancy requirements for residential units, and arbitrary height ceilings have the effect of preventing our cities from meeting the demand they face — causing housing prices to balloon as a result.

The Crimson

Dissent: Harvard Square is Not the Center of the Universe

For all the talk about bubble tea, we’re surprised our colleagues on the Editorial Board are unable to recognize the more ebullient bubble that surrounds us. We want to see Harvard Square improve as much as the next person, but there are some serious issues with how we’ve been thinking about it.

Firstly, Cambridge and Somerville are vibrant and bustling communities, forming one of the most densely populated regions in the United States. Perhaps their liveliness stems from their impressive connectivity and accessibility — at least relative to the rest of our car-dependent country. So why doesn’t the Board venture a little outside of Harvard Square instead of focusing exclusively on the store availability here?

Sure, when it comes to more accessible restaurants and food options, Harvard Square isn’t the best, especially for low-income students like us. But we’re having the wrong conversation here. It’s true that there are few grocery stores in the Square itself, but let’s not forget the other neighborhoods nearby with plenty of food options. If you want a convenient and cheap grocery store, Market Basket is only a 15-minute bus ride away (10 minutes if you want to cycle). And, of course, there’s always the option to take the Red Line just one stop in either direction. Have our colleagues considered the Star Market in Porter Square or the Whole Foods in Central? The Targets near both?

Even if grocery stores abounded in Harvard Square, we doubt many of us are cooking every day in the limited kitchen space we have, given that we have a dining hall system that we can use. Then again, didn’t this Board reject hot breakfast, claiming “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?” The call to “let them eat toast” was dismissive and counterproductive to the conversation of expanding access to food options for Harvard students.

The Board discusses the amusing idea of subsidizing food in the Square, which reinforces the idea that Harvard students should never stray more than 5,000 feet from their dorms. How about the University subsidizes MBTA passes for its undergraduate students, following the leads of its neighbors like Boston UniversityTuftsMIT — heck, even its own graduate schools?

No, the real issue with this Board’s reasoning isn’t just about food access. Instead, we should call out Harvard’s predatory relationship with the Square; the Board has already recognized how the University’s investment in the city is inadequate, and we should continue doing so.

Cambridge’s rising land and rent costs — which likely play a role in the Square’s makeup of mostly expensive shops — are largely a result of Harvard’s expansion and influence, and we need to be conscious of the University’s effects on both the unhoused community and the working-class people who live here.

We can’t just expect Harvard Square to transform into a prototypical college town in the middle of Cambridge. As much as we may want student-focused businesses in The Square, there’s no denying that they’re fighting an uphill battle against the tourism industry in a neighborhood with skyrocketing prices.

It’s time we asked ourselves, who’s really to blame for Harvard Square being so inaccessible: individual tourists or the multibillion-dollar university that created a local economy with 16 dessert shops, more than 10 banks, and an overpriced CVS in an effort to appeal to them?

So, as members of the Cambridge community new and old, what does resisting the physical dominance of the University mean for us all? It means we need to be more engaged with the community around us by supporting local businesses, not just familiar chains. It means getting to know our working-class neighbors and being conscious of our impact on the community. It means fighting modern investment models that usually result in generic, mind-numbing architecture and corporate sameness. We need to see our cities as “a container for human life,” as urban studies journalist Jane Jacobs put it.

The Crimson

Black Business Owners ‘Break Barriers,’ Find a ‘Niche’ in Harvard Square

In recognition of Black History Month, The Crimson interviewed the owners of Le Macaron, Oggi Gourmet, and Grolier Poetry Book Shop to learn about their lives and journeys to Harvard Square.

For 79 years, Grolier Poetry Book Shop on Plympton Street in Harvard Square was owned, operated, and frequented primarily by white Cambridge residents.

In 2006, however, Ifeanyi A. Menkiti broke the mold, becoming the first Nigerian-born immigrant to own the oldest continuously running bookshop dedicated to poetry in the nation.

Though Menkiti died in 2019, the bookshop remains in his family and has strived to make poetry more inclusive, according to his daughter Ndidi N. Menkiti ’06.

“I think it’s a little bit exciting and revolutionary that my dad, as a Nigerian immigrant, bought this store that was located in the middle of Harvard and kind of was a boys’ club place for the likes of Robert Lowell and Eliot,” she said.

Grolier Poetry Book Shop is now one of a handful of black-owned businesses in Harvard Square making strides in diversifying small business ownership.

Today, there is a “lot of diversity” among business owners in Harvard Square, according to Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, but there are still “hurdles that many members of the BIPOC community have to encounter.”

“We do not have enough Black-owned businesses,” Jillson said.

In recognition of Black History Month, The Crimson interviewed three prominent Black business owners in Harvard Square to share their stories.

Le Macaron

Karine Ernest, owner of Le Macaron French Pastries’ Cambridge location, was born in Haiti and immigrated to the United States when she was four.

Raised primarily in Boston, she said being a business owner was “definitely something that was inspiring” for her and something that she always wanted to do.

After graduating from Wellesley College with a dual degree in Economics and French, she worked in telecommunications, but was always drawn to the world of entrepreneurship.

“I always had that little bug in my ear — somehow be an entrepreneur,” Ernest said.

Le Macaron first opened the doors of its Harvard Square location on Aug. 12, 2022.

Le Macaron first opened the doors of its Harvard Square location on Aug. 12, 2022. By Addison Y. Liu

Returning to business school for an MBA at Babson College was no small feat for Ernest, given that she was raising two children at the time.

After graduating with a “child on the hip,” she learned of the Le Macaron chain.

“I completely fell in love. I love the business model. It was simple, and it was definitely something I felt comfortable with. I love the product,” Ernest said.

“And so we opened up August 12 of 2022 in Harvard Square, and we have a fabulous location,” she added.

Securing a franchise location, however, can be particularly “difficult” for Black small business entrepreneurs like herself, Ernest said.

“You found the perfect space. You have the qualifications. Why is the landlord considering someone else that doesn’t seem as qualified?” she said.

“You start to wonder, is it a racial thing? Is it because I’m Black? That’s always in the back of your mind,” she added.

Doing business in Cambridge has been a “wonderful experience,” Ernest said, but she acknowledged that developing the kind of support network and finding the right “allies” can be challenging for other Black business owners.

“I think, as a Black entrepreneur, oftentimes that’s something that we don’t have,” Ernest said. “I was fortunate that I had a lot of people that I could reach out to and ask questions.”

For Ernest, opening Le Macaron’s Harvard Square location was an “incredible achievement.”

“I think we’ve been very welcomed and accepted by the community,” Ernest said, “And we’re excited to break some barriers — a milestone so to speak.”

Oggi Gourmet

Oggi Gourmet owner Steve Welch was born on the small Caribbean island of Montserrat.

Studying fashion merchandising in college, he said he did not initially have plans to become a business owner.

“I really didn’t set out to be one. It just sort of happened,” Welch said.

To Welch, being a business owner in Harvard Square is like “being the older brother sometimes and seeing kids grow up.”

Welch added he does not believe he has experienced any particular challenges beyond those faced by most businesses.

Oggi Gourmet owner Steve Welch first opened his restaurant in 2003.

Oggi Gourmet owner Steve Welch first opened his restaurant in 2003. By Claire Yuan

“I felt comfortable when I came here. I just wanted to blend in. I didn’t want them to see me as a Black-owned business,” Welch said. “I just want to be, again, another good restaurant that came to Harvard Square.”

He likened the Harvard business community to a “big fabric” — one that encompasses people from “all walks of life.”

“It was like a quilt to me. And I brought my little section of the quilt and blended it with this restaurant and that business over there,” Welch said. “You’ve got to find your balance. Find your niche.”

Grolier Poetry Book Shop

Ifeanyi Menkiti — the late owner of Grolier Poetry Book Shop — bought the establishment because he believed that the shop was a “cultural institution that needed to survive,” according to his daughter Ndidi Menkiti.

“My dad was a huge believer in the arts and culture and community, and so he was really in love with this idea of art forms that are universal, like poetry, music, drama,” Menkiti added.

Grolier Poetry Book Shop, founded in 1927, is located on 6 Plympton St.

Grolier Poetry Book Shop, founded in 1927, is located on 6 Plympton St. By Awnit Singh Marta

The Crimson

Möge Tee Joins the Par-tea as Fourth Boba Shop in Harvard Square

Boba shop Möge Tee held its grand opening in Harvard Square with a traditional lion dance performance and free drinks for its first 50 customers on Sunday.

Located on 54 JFK St., Möge Tee is the fourth boba shop in the Square, alongside Kung Fu TeaGong Cha, and Tiger Sugar. On opening day, customers lined up in the crowded shop while loud drums accompanied a colorful lion dance outside.

Möge Tee’s menu boasts a selection of classic milk and matcha teas, cheese foam teas, and signature fruit teas. The chain operates more than 380 locations worldwide, with more than 60 locations in the U.S., including a shop in Central Square.

So Lim Ting, co-owner of the Harvard Square and Central Square locations, said he decided to open the Square location due to the “success from the Central Square location with MIT students.”

Möge Tee currently occupies the former location of Boston Tea Stop, which closed down in December 2021.

In comparison with other boba shops in the Square, Ting said Möge Tee is particularly famous for their fruit teas.

“We want to display the freshness of Möge Tee,” Ting said. “Möge Tee is very known for its fresh fruits, fresh ingredients that we use and display in the fridge.”

Despite the large demand for bubble tea in Cambridge, students shared mixed opinions about a fourth boba shop coming into town.

“I think that it’s really amazing that we have all these different choices now,” Jang G. Choe ’26 said. “At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if they’re all just going to cannibalize each other.”

“I think it might really come down to location and cost,” Choe added.

Carolyn “Carly” Y. Chen ’26 said the store has a “nice atmosphere,” but she said she wishes there were more seating.

“They also have a larger variety,” Chen said. “In whole, I really liked their menu. I want to try it out.”

Though Ting is considering more locations in the future, he said he is planning to initially focus on the current location.

“There may be more coming, but our first goal is we want to be the best Harvard boba ever,” he said.

Boston Restaurants

Faro Cafe Opens in Cambridge’s Harvard Square

Last spring, it was reported that a new community-focused coffee shop was planning to open in Cambridge, and now we have learned that it is up and running.

According to a source as well as a Harvard Crimson article, Faro Cafe is now open on Arrow Street along the eastern edge of Harvard Square, and as indicated in an earlier article, the shop is influenced by a beloved place that closed in 2020, with Faro Cafe owner Henry Hoffstot saying last year that “We’re trying to create a space where we of course sell coffee, but we also foster conversation and have sort of a Cafe Pamplona-style place where people can go and talk.” Cafe Pamplona closed down in the spring of 2020 after being in business for more than 60 years.

The address for Faro Cafe is 5 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138. Its website is at

Harvard Independent

Do’s and Don’ts for Harvard Dates

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to take your crush or significant other on a date. Dates can be nerve-racking and even scary. So, I’m going to walk you through some DO’s and DON’Ts date spots in Harvard Square. 

DO: Toscano 

If you’re looking to impress a special someone, Toscano is the way to go. With delightful bread rolls, delicious pastas and decadent pizzas, this perfect Italian spot is sure to leave a lasting impression.  A great excuse to dress up and have fun, this is one of the best restaurants in Harvard Square for good reason. 

DO: Enjoy an ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s

Dinner dates can be really uncomfortable when you’re just getting to know someone, so Ben and Jerry’s  is a perfect no-stress first date option. Who doesn’t love ice cream? Ben and Jerry’s is by far the best ice cream spot in my opinion (sorry JP Licks lovers). They’re over-the-top flavors hit the spot everytime. 

DO: Get a latte at Tatte 

For a relaxed date, go to Tatte to grab an overpriced pastry and coffee. You can invite someone here on the pretense of studying together at one of those tiny little tables, only to chat for half an hour while you wait in line to order and then not be able to find anywhere to sit. It’s a low-pressure, fun spot, but surely a bonding experience. 

DO: Picnic in the Yard

Give it a few weeks for the weather to warm a little and for the ground to dry, and then a picnic in Harvard yard is a perfect date idea, and one of my all-time favorites. Not only is it layed back and romantic but you can personalize it with your favorite foods, and experience the magic of Harvard Yard. This one is, however, extremely unsubtle—you are begging to be bothered by your friends, tourists and wandering turkeys alike.

DO: Walk on the Anderson Bridge

Take a romantic stroll across the Anderson Bridge and perch on the stone walls to watch the sunset with a special someone. It’s a great way to decompress, play your favorite tunes, and get some quality time together. It’s also a short walk down the river to Weeks Bridge if you’re feeling up for a late-night dip…

DO: Check out the Brattle theater

A timeless date night is a trip to your local movie theater. Brattle theater is the perfect place to snuggle up, share a drink and popcorn, and have a great romantic evening. For the introverted among us, a movie date allows you to alleviate yourself from the burdens of menial conversation, and instead just hope that a hand-hold is enough chemistry.

DO: Late night Pinocchios 

Pinnochios can be great to get a late night slice of pizza with a special someone. The comfort of Pinocchios will ensure a safe setting when getting to know your crush. 

DON’T: Invite them to your dorm too soon

If you don’t know someone too well, inviting someone to your dorm  could definitely give them the wrong idea. Either that or you will friend-zone yourself. Hanging in your dorm can be awkward and not ideal for making any kind of memory with your date—on the off-chance this person is into you, you could easily ruin it. .


Not an ideal date setting. If someone takes you to the Dhall, that is not a date. You are friends. Not exactly known for their delicious cuisine, Harvard’s dhalls are not to be confused with a romantic dinner. Then again, maybe you both just seriously love red spiced chicken. 

Boston Restaurants

Roust Opens in the Former Darwin’s Space in Cambridge’s Harvard Square

A new cafe has come to Cambridge, moving into the original Darwin’s space.

A message sent by Leah Klein of City Living Boston states that Roust is now open in Harvard Square, taking over the former Darwin’s space on Mt Auburn Street. Cambridge Day first reported on the coffee shop and bakery-cafe coming to the storefront last month, indicating that the new place has a similar concept to that of Darwin’s, offering baked goods, breakfast items, sandwiches, coffee, and more.

All locations of Darwin’s closed late last year, including other locations on Cambridge Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and Putnam Avenue; the Cambridge Street location will become home to a worker-owned cafe called Circus Co-op.

The address for Roust is 148 Mt Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138.

The Crimson

How Cambridge’s Unhoused Residents Endured the Record-Breaking Cold

Confronting record-breaking low temperatures earlier this month, some of Cambridge’s unhoused residents sought refuge in shelters offering extended hours last weekend, while others faced the cold.

Harvard’s two student-run homeless shelters, Y2Y Harvard Square and Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, opened during the day in addition to their regular overnight hours.

Y2Y Volunteer Director and Tufts junior Annie S. Li sent out an email calling for emergency volunteers during the cold snap, asking anyone interested to sign up for extra shifts during the day. Y2Y operates on a peer-to-peer model, where volunteers aged 18 to 24 — many of whom are Harvard students — serve guests of similar age.

“The extreme weather puts our guests in danger because Y2Y normally operates as an overnight shelter,” Li wrote. “As a result, in order to provide a safe and warm space for the guests, we will be opening the whole day Saturday, Feb. 3.”

“We actually did not know how many people we’re going to expect, which is really surprising that we were able to get more than enough volunteers who were willing to come in,” she said in an interview last week.