CBS News

“French-style” Van Leeuwen Ice Cream shop to open 3 Boston-area locations

BOSTON – There’s no shortage of great ice cream shops in Massachusetts. But Van Leeuwen, a popular chain out of New York with over 50 stores, is coming to the Boston area this year and promises something a little more gourmet than your standard scoop. 

Three locations will open in 2024. One is set to open on Boylston Street in early April at The Street Chestnut Hill, another is coming to 131 Seaport Blvd. in the summer, and the third will be in Harvard Square this fall.

“Rich, chewy, creamy” ice cream

Co-founder and CEO Ben Van Leeuwen says his “French-style” ice cream uses far more egg yolks than the competition.

“You’re getting a really rich, chewy, creamy thick product,” he told WBZ-TV. “It’s made that way with just cream and eggs.”


The shop has made headlines for creative concoctions like macaroni and cheese-flavored ice cream, but Van Leeuwen said he’s focused on getting good ingredients like chocolate from Ecuador, and vanilla that was rated among the best on the market by Wirecutter. There’s also non-dairy ice cream options for vegans, made with coconut cream.

Van Leeuwen said the ice cream sells for about $7 a scoop. They will also be serving up sundaes, milkshakes and root beer floats.

“Sure, it’s more expensive than Baskin-Robbins,” Van Leeuwen acknowledged – but he says customers are willing to pay for a higher quality product.   

Why Van Leeuwen is coming to Boston

Why the expansion into Boston and Cambridge? Van Leeuwen said walkability was a draw.

“There aren’t many places in the U.S. that have really good foot traffic where people are actually walking around,” he told WBZ-TV. “One of them is Boston.”

Van Leeuwen says he got started in the ice cream business by driving a Good Humor truck back in his high school days in Greenwich, Connecticut. He’s come a long way from handing out chocolate eclair and SpongeBob Squarepants bars.

“I love food, I love ingredients,” he said. “I want to do something that can be done at almost the highest level, but still accessible to all.”

The Harvard Crimson

A Look into Old Harvard: Leavitt & Peirce

Although Harvard Square has undergone considerable changes over the centuries, a handful of remnants of “Old Harvard Square” still stand today. Leavitt & Peirce, the iconic tobacco storefront, is the oldest remaining retailer in Harvard Square and is a link to the area’s rich history.


Lesley University students fill Harvard Square community fridge


They’re lifelines for those in need tucked away in communities across the country and in Massachusetts: Community fridges offering food with no questions asked for anyone to take.

Each week, students from Lesley University Threshold Program, which educates and creates opportunities for neurodivergent students, work to fill the Harvard Square fridge.

“The first time we did it, we made about 25 sandwiches,” said student Andrew Walker.

“Something healthy, a fruit and then like a sandwich as a full course lunch meal,” said student Nick Rosen.

The students do the shopping, prep work and stock the fridge to help them learn skills that will help them find jobs once they leave the program.

“’Neurodiverse’ is big umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different abilities and disabilities. Some common terms people might here are autism spectrum disorder, anxiety,” said Catherine Horan, director of Career Services Threshold Program at Lesley University.

The students are working together to make a difference in the community.

“Makes me feel good for doing something with the community and we’ve gotten a great response. We’ll be not even finished stocking the fridge and there’s already people lining up waiting,” said Walker.

“Many of our students and alumni go to a program or go to a job and stay there for a really long time and really have wonderful skills, and think about things and think about problem-solving in a lot of different ways that maybe you or I may not think about,” Horan said.

The Boston Globe

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will open a trio of scoop shops; Greenway food trucks roll into town April 1

COMING SOON: New York sensation Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will open a trio of scoop shops in the Boston area, starting this spring. They’ll begin with Chestnut Hill (55 Boylston St.), followed by the Seaport (131 Seaport Blvd.), and Harvard Square (1 Brattle Square).

They’re known for wild and wacky limited-edition experiments, from Kraft mac-and-cheese to Hidden Valley Ranch, as well as classic flavors such as praline butter cake and a much-loved vanilla bean. They also sell a big variety of vegan scoops.


Here’s when Van Leeuwen ice cream shops will open around Boston

The popular NYC chain will open locations in the Seaport, Harvard Square, and Chestnut Hill.

Looking for a new ice cream parlor? We’ve got the scoop.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will be opening three new locations in Greater Boston, according to a press release. The new parlors will be located in Chestnut Hill, the Seaport, and Harvard Square.

According to Ben Van Leeuwen, one of the co-founders, the Chestnut Hill location (55 Boylston St., Suite 5578) is slated to open in about one month, the Seaport location (131 Seaport Blvd.) is set to open in three to four months, and the Harvard Square location (1 Brattle Square) will open in approximately nine months.

“You only have one life. So you might as well do business in places that you enjoy being in,” he told “Boston is one of those.”

The popular ice cream chain started out of a truck in 2008 in New York City, according to the company’s website. Since then, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream has opened over 50 parlors in seven states and Washington, D.C., according to the release.

Some of the chain’s best-selling flavors include the honeycomb, pistachio, chocolate fudge brownie, and Earl Grey tea. For vegan flavors, some top sellers are peanut butter brownie honeycomb, chocolate fudge brownie, and cookies and cream caramel swirl, according to Van Leeuwen.

He added some of the most unique features are the ingredients used — from Sicilian pistachios, Ecuadorian chocolate, and Tahitian vanilla beans.

“We want to make good ice cream for everybody,” Van Leeuwen said. “We work hard to make it as absolutely good as we can.”

The chain’s menu offers over 30 flavors of ice cream and also serves sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, root beer floats, milkshakes, and to-go pints. The company also works with “local partners,” like a bakery or pastry chef, to release a special flavor that is unique to the market being catered to. For the new Boston locations, Van Leeuwen said these flavors will be announced closer to the grand openings.

“We’re excited to get to know the Chestnut Hill, Seaport and Harvard Square communities even more, and share good ice cream that makes you feel good,” Van Leeuwen said in the release.

Mommy Poppins

25 Things To Do with Kids in Harvard Square

Harvard Square is a great hangout for students and young professionals, but its full of things to do with kids. With one of the best playgrounds in the Boston area, museums, historical sites, and family-friendly entertainment options, Harvard Square is a family-friendly neighborhood. On top of all that, Harvard Square is also home to some of the top hot chocolate spots around Boston. Read on for our list of the top 25 things to do with kids in Harvard Square, including Harvard Square Restaurants and Harvard Square hotels.

Things To Do in Harvard Square with Kids

1. Spend an afternoon at the Harvard Art Museums.

2. Catch a ballet with Jose Mateo Dance company.

3. Attend an activity or pick out a book at the children’s room at The Harvard Coop. Make sure the kids use their bathroom while there before heading back out!

4. Catch one of the kid-friendly films, or even film festivals, at the Brattle Theatre.

5. Keep an eye on the calendar for family-friendly festivals, like Harvard ArtsFirst.

6. See all of the historical sites (and even the haunted ones!) with a tour of Harvard square.

​Harvard Museum of Science and Culture Boston Massachusetts kids families  
Harvard’s museums offer some of the coolest things to do and see in Harvard Square. Harvard Museum of Science and Culture photo by Michael Del Llano for Mommy Poppins

7. Plan a full day visiting all the museums at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture.

Free Things To Do in Harvard Square

8. Visit the Longfellow House and grounds for a free tour inside and look around the gorgeous garden. A great place for photos!

9. No matter what else you do, make sure to leave time to play at the fantastic Alexander Kemp Playground on Cambridge Common!

10. Find the gate into Harvard that reads “Enter to Grow in Wisdom.” See if it makes the kids feel smarter to pass through that particular gate into Harvard Yard!

11. Help the kids find William Dawes’ golden horseshoes and the cannons at the Dawes’ Island Memorial on Massachusetts Avenue.

12. Bring roller skates and try them out on Memorial Drive in summer, when it’s closed to vehicle traffic.

13. Take a break on the benches beside the fountain at the Radcliffe Sunken Garden.

14. Bring a soccer ball or Frisbee along to play on the Cambridge Common park.

Harvard Square Restaurants

15. In cold weather, drop by L.A. Burdick for a hot chocolate. In fact, stop by regardless of the weather!

16. Grab a slice of Sicilian-style pizza from Pinocchio’s.

17. The Cambridge Common restaurant on Mass. Ave. has some of the best outdoor dining in Boston.

18. Grab a burger at Shake Shack, Tasty Burger, or my family’s favorite, Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers.

19. Have an ice cream, frozen yogurt, or some other treat at J.P. Licks.

20. Indulge your sweet tooth and grab a yummy cookie at Insomnia Cookies.

Harvard Square Hotels

21. The Harvard Square Hotel has a fabulous central location and bright, spacious rooms.

22. The Charles Hotel is a great option for foodie families, with multiple on-site restautrants.

23. The DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Boston-Cambridge is just across the river in Boston. Some rooms have balconies overlooking Boston and Cambridge.

Visitng Colleges around Harvard Square with High Schoolers

24. Take the whole family on a Hahvahd Tour for a behind-the-scenes look at Ivy League life.

25. Campus tours of M.I.T are just a short ride (or a couple T stops) away!

The Harvard Crimson

Here’s the Scoop: Van Leeuwen’s to Open in Harvard Square

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will look to be the crème de la crème of ice cream selections in Harvard Square as it is set to open a Cambridge location in the near future.

Founded in New York City and established in eight states and Washington, D.C., Van Leeuwen is planning to open three stores across the Boston metro area. The Harvard Square location will be located at 1 Brattle Square, across from Bluestone Lane Cafe.

Jisung P. Lee ’25 said she enjoyed trying Van Leeuwen’s ice cream while in New York and was “surprised” to hear the chain was coming to the Square.

“I was personally surprised to know that there was another ice cream shop opening because it just adds to the numerous that we have already,” Lee said.

The Square is currently home to six ice cream stores: J.P. Licks, Ben and Jerry’s, BerryLine, Amorino, Taiyaki, and Lizzy’s. With another nationwide chain joining the collection, residents will have a wealth of options to choose from for their late-night cravings.

Hannah G. Zhou ’25 said another ice cream shop in the Square does not feel “necessary,” but added that she’s still willing to try Van Leeuwen for the “novelty.”

“If after going one time, I didn’t like it that much, I probably wouldn’t go back again,” she said. “It also depends a lot on the price point.”

Carlos Covarrueeis — an employee at Boston area ice cream shop J.P. Licks — said he does not think they will face competition from Van Leeuwen because “J.P. Licks is the best ice cream from Boston,” adding that J.P. Licks also sells a fully kosher certified menu that includes coffee and breakfast sandwiches.

Eddie H. Galante, who has worked at J.P. Licks for three months, said he is happy to see another ice cream shop appear in the Square.

“On a summer night, there’s never enough ice cream places open,” he said.

Ben and Jerry’s associate manager Hannah Nangle said she doesn’t believe the Harvard Square Ben and Jerry’s will face threat from Van Leeuwens, thanks to the company’s established presence on campus.

“People love our brand presence,” Nangle said. “They love knowing our history.”

Emily Parke ’24 said she is “excited” for Van Leeuwen’s eventual opening and that it’s “fun” to have so many ice cream options.

“I see them in the grocery store sometimes and I see that they’re kind of expensive, but that makes me think that maybe they’re good,” Parke said.

Gabriel H. Basden ’26 said that despite the new option, he will be remaining loyal to J.P. Licks, his favorite ice cream shop in the square.

“I believe in loyalty and maintaining ties to the relationships and connections you’ve known for the longest time, and I’ve yet to have a bad cookie dough from J.P. Licks,” he said. “I will not be trying the new place.”

Van Leeuwen did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite the many ice cream chains on campus, Karen Z. Song ’25​​ said she doesn’t see the shops as a “hangout spot” that students frequent on campus.

“It will be interesting to see if Van Leeuwen changes that dynamic and normalizes ice cream consumption,” Song said.


Despite cancelled Prudential expansion, Harvard Book Store sees bright future for independent book sellers

Harvard Book Store owner Jeff Mayersohn told GBH News that he was excited by the opportunity to expand to the Prudential Center, a marquee downtown shopping location. With an expected 29,000 square feet, the former Barnes and Noble store also would have provided a much larger footprint than the 5,500 square feet of the original Cambridge location.

“It was a very ambitious project to begin with, and certainly much bigger than anything the bookstore itself has ever done,” he said.

The project started during the pandemic and costs started rising due to supply chain issues, labor shortages and inflation. Mayersohn said they tried multiple times to make the store happen by revising the design and staffing needs. Construction had already begun, but the escalating price eventually reached a point that it was no longer viable to continue with the new location.

Despite the recent cancellation of Harvard Book Store’s planned second location at the Prudential Center, independent booksellers say business is going well and they are hopeful about the future for bookstores in Boston.

Mayersohn said the Cambridge location continues to thrive — revenue is up, author events are popular and customers are coming back again and again. He said his focus now is investing further in that location.

The Harvard Crimson

City Council Supports Local Real Estate Tax, Discusses Municipal Housing Vouchers

The Cambridge City Council voted to support a tax on large real estate transactions and discussed the feasibility of municipally-funded housing vouchers during a Monday evening meeting.

Councilors voted 6-2 to endorse keeping local option transfer fees a part of the state Affordable Homes Act, which is currently being reviewed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Under the current version of the AHA, Massachusetts municipalities would have the authority to impose a tax of between 0.5 and 2 percent on real estate transactions of more than $1 million, with revenues going to fund affordable housing projects.

Based on an estimate from the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, Middlesex County — in which Cambridge is located — could raise more than $131 million for each 1 percent tax on large real estate transactions.

Councilors expressed hope that the additional revenue resulting from the tax could help alleviate Cambridge’s longstanding affordable housing crisis.

But some local advocates urged the Council to reject the policy order, raising concerns over the additional cost to homeowners.

“The reality is that this is not a fee for municipalities. It is actually another fee for every homeowner in Cambridge whose property is valued over a million dollars,” Denise Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said during the Monday meeting.

“I urge you to consider what a local option transfer fee will mean to residential property owners in Cambridge,” Jillson added, “particularly those who are older and may be looking to downsize, those who are younger with families and need to upsize, and every home or condo owner who might be counting on their most valuable asset — their home — to maintain financial security and, for some, their independence.”

However, councilors stressed that the provision itself would not immediately impose the real estate tax in the city.

“It is really important, though, to note that this legislation does nothing to enact a tax of any kind or a fee of any kind in Cambridge,” said Councilor Patricia M. “Patty” Nolan ’80.

“What it would allow is local control for municipalities across the state to decide whether to implement a transfer fee that reflects the reality of the markets within their own city,” Nolan added.

Jillson suggested the tax was unnecessary, citing numerous programs the city has implemented to support affordable housing development, and the relative abundance of affordable housing in Cambridge.

“These programs have resulted in 15 percent of the housing stock in Cambridge deemed affordable,” said Jillson. “While there are a few communities with higher percentages, it is important to note that the statewide average is 10 percent. Cambridge far exceeds that.”

Cambridge Residents Alliance President Lee Farris disputed the sentiment, pointing to the Envision Cambridge plan, the city’s blueprint for 2030.

“It says we’re trying to get to 20 percent income-restricted affordable housing in the city,” said Farris, referring to goals laid out in the Envision plan. “If some speakers don’t like that, they’re going against what the city has already said it wants to do.”

The Council also debated issuing municipally-funded housing vouchers in partnership with the Cambridge Housing Authority, ultimately referring it to the Council’s Housing Committee.

The CHA currently provides housing vouchers under the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which pays for low-income residents to rent an apartment in the private market. City funding for housing vouchers would increase the number of Cambridge residents who receive this assistance.

“Voucher holders can have flexibility on what part of the city they want to live in,” Farris said. “While I certainly think we need to build more income-restricted affordable housing, vouchers are really important in preventing displacement of lower-income people in the short term, in a faster timeframe than is possible by building new affordable units.”