An elderly Russian chess player who charges two dollars per game often sets up shop on the patio outside the Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square. A consistent crowd of tourists wanders in and out of the adjacent Holyoke Center, but this Mass. Ave. hotspot has recently developed a musical dimension: a public piano now graces the street corner, one of many pianos installed by Luke Jerram’s international “Play Me, I’m Yours” project. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Celebrity Series of Boston which features local performances by internationally recognized musicians, the project has installed 75 pianos on the streets of Boston from September 27 to October 14.
The restaurant and concert venue Beat Hôtel is now open at 13 Brattle St., bringing live music, colorful décor, and a taste of “la vie bohème” to Harvard Square. Led by the same team that operates The Beehive in Boston’s South End, the Beat Hôtel draws inspiration from a rundown hotel in Paris that housed numerous writers and artists of the so-called Beat Generation during the 1950s and ’60s, according to Jack Bardy, Beat Hôtel’s operating partner.
It’s a problem that just about everyone who has walked through Cambridge shares: finding a public bathroom around Harvard Square. Now, a loose coalition of churches, homelessness organizations, and businesses have launched a campaign called Advocates for a Common Toilet, in an effort to get a public restroom for the Cambridge Common.
The weathered plaque at the base of “Omphalos”, a towering statue in Harvard Square, is hard to spot behind the metal barriers. A dirty pair of shorts and a discarded plastic bag sit at its concrete base. A rusty bicycle has been chained to an adjacent pole and apparently abandoned.
Journelle, a Big Apple exemplar of underwear couture, has converted a … Journelle converts Airstream trailer into a roving showcase of … Journelle, a popular lingerie retailer in New York City, is starting its summer tour in Boston on Friday. … Staff, Aerial footage by Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe).
Toscano opened in Harvard Square at the end of March, a second branch of the Beacon Hill restaurant with which it shares a name. The Brattle Street spot was for years scented with garlic naan and tandoori chicken as Cafe of India; now pasta and grilled meats take their place.
The Square’s restaurant scene has welcomed more than six newcomers within the last year, with others set to open soon.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, many Harvard Square restaurants and businesses are donating portions of their sales to help victims of the attacks. “Anything that we could do in some small way to help the victims was something that we felt strongly about,” said Patrick M. Lee, a partner with The Grafton Group, whose restaurants PARK, Russell House Tavern, Grafton Street, and Temple Bar all participated in fundraising.
Three decades ago, when customers entered what is now UpStairs on the Square, some assumed that the woman who greeted them was only there to take reservations. But in fact, Mary-Catherine Deibel welcomed the guests to her restaurant. In 1982, Deibel, as the co-owner and co-founder of the longstanding Harvard Square restaurant, represented an exception to the male-dominated business community.
The Harvard Square Business Association has partnered with Cambridge-based technology start-up Leaf Holdings, Inc. to begin collecting in-store donations this month to help the homeless, the HSBA announced last Friday.