Cambridge Day

Rachael Solem, who ran Cambridge guesthouses, dies suddenly, stunning the business community (corrected)

Rachael Solem in a photo posted Jan. 1, 2021. (Photo: Rachel Solem via Facebook)

The proprietor of the Irving House, Turner House and Harding House guesthouses in Cambridge, Rachael Solem, died Monday at 68, believed to be the result of a blood clot, members of the business community said.

At a Dec. 6 board meeting for Cambridge Local First, a small-business organization she helped guide for many years since its founding in 2005, Solem announced that she was stepping back from her remaining business at Irving House to enjoy retirement. The business is run by her daughter, Briana Pearson.

The news of Solem’s death was “deeply sad,” said Theodora Skeadas, executive director of Cambridge Local First. “Not only was Rachael an unbelievably impactful board member for our organization’s entire history, but she was also a beautiful woman with a big heart.”

Solem bought Irving House in 1990 with partners. (Turner House, just up Irving Street, was intended for longer-term visitors.) Harding House followed in 1997; Solem updated the structure into a 14-room bed and breakfast with style: Marieke Van Damme, leader of the History Cambridge organization, recalled it as “filled for the next two decades with the aromas of quiche and coffee, quiet conversations and the bustle of guests with newspapers. On Thursdays, staff would set up evening wine and cheese services; when a new artist showcased their work, Harding House would hire a jazz trio for the opening.”

While Harding House closed during the Covid pandemic, Irving House’s 44 rooms in Mid-Cambridge stayed in business – accommodating guests as it had since its origins hosting Harvard University affiliates in the 1920s.

The news of Solem’s death spread quickly Tuesday through the city’s small-business owners; she was active in the community, serving not just on the CLF board over the years but working with the Harvard Square Business Association, Chamber of Commerce and History Cambridge – starting when it was known as the  Cambridge Historical Society – as well as the Cambridge Hotel Association and Massachusetts Lodging Association.

She is the mother of two CRLS graduates and grandmother of two Cambridge natives, one in the Cambridge Public Schools, according to an online biography. Solem lived with her husband in Wellesley, said Toscanini’s owner Gus Rancatore.


Grubhub to return $3.5 million to Massachusetts restaurants overcharged during pandemic

BOSTON — Online food ordering and delivery platform Grubhub will pay more than $3.5 million to settle allegations that it illegally overcharged Massachusetts restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Attorney General’s office announced.

The settlement resolves a 2021 lawsuit that accused Grubhub of violating a law that capped the fees third-party delivery services could charge restaurants at 15% of an order’s menu price during the public health emergency. The attorney general’s office accused Grubhub of charging a 15% fee and then adding another 3% fee for “collecting payments, fraud monitoring, customer care.”

At the time the lawsuit was filed, Gov. Maura Healey was the attorney general. In March 2023, the Suffolk Superior Court ruled that Grubhub had violated the statute.

Current Attorney General Andrea Campbell announced the settlement on Friday.

“Grubhub unlawfully overcharged and took advantage of restaurants during a public health emergency that devastated much of this industry,” Campbell said in a statement. “I am proud of my office’s dedicated work in securing meaningful financial relief for impacted businesses and we will continue to protect both consumers and businesses from such unfair and illegal practices.”

Campbell said her office would be contacting impacted restaurants regarding the distribution of the $3.5 million in settlement money.

John Schall, owner of El Jefe Taqueria in Harvard Square, was the first to complain to the state about Grubhub’s fees. In a statement Friday, he thanked the AG’s office.

“The $3.5 million that is coming from this settlement will provide real relief to El Jefe’s and to restaurants across the Commonwealth who were overcharged by Grubhub,” he said.

Grubhub will also pay $125,000 to the state as a part of the deal.

Restaurants with questions may contact the Attorney General’s Insurance and Financial Services hotline at 888-830-6277.

The Boston Globe

New book offers glimpse of history behind Cambridge’s Andover Shop; launch celebration for poet David Ferry’s posthumous collection on Dec. 13; local press publishes contemporary Korean poetry series

Left: An new oral history tells the life and times of the Andover Shop's iconic Charlie Davidson. Right: Local Black Ocean press recently published a new collection from Korean poet Ha Jaeyoun.
Left: An new oral history tells the life and times of the Andover Shop’s iconic Charlie Davidson. Right: Local Black Ocean press recently published a new collection from Korean poet Ha Jaeyoun.AL CASTIEL III/HA JAEYOUN

New book offers glimpse of history behind Cambridge’s Andover Shop

A tiny shop with an unassuming storefront on a side street in Harvard Square altered the history of men’s fashion in the 20th century, and Charlie Davidson was the man behind it. Davidson founded the Andover Shop in 1948 and dressed not just Supreme Court justices and Harvard bigwigs, but Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Ralph Ellison, among others. The shop became a cultural hub as well as a clothing store, a jewel box of tweed, jazz, and literature. A new book, “Miles, Chet, Ralph, & Charlie: An Oral History of The Andover Shop,” put together by Constantine A. Valhouli, gives a glimpse into this singular spot, and the inimitable man who ran it. The chorus of voices includes Roger Angell, Ellison, Nat Hentoff, Davis, Malcolm Gladwell, and Harvard Square legends like Mary-Catherine Deibel. The book includes firsthand interviews as well as archival materials — letters, newspapers, unpublished memoirs, and manuscripts — and the feel is of being at a gathering, people chatting away about Davidson, part gossip, part praise, sharing anecdotes, sharing stories, about his wisdom, his generosity (he was the “unofficial therapist for some of the leading figures in Boston,” says Mor Sène), his welcoming spirit, along with his unassailable taste. As B. Bruce Boyer says, the place marked the intersection of “the Establishment and the iconoclasts . . . many of the Shop’s most celebrated clients were consummate outsiders.” The book is a kaleidoscopic celebration of a man, an engaging look at fashion, jazz, and politics, and a lively history of Harvard Square, all sewn together by Valhouli in a well-tailored, timeless fit.

On a Saturday last month, a small group of close friends and family gathered at the retirement home of poet and translator David Ferry and an impromptu reading took place from Ferry’s final, forthcoming collection of poetry, “Some Things I Said” (Grolier Poetry) as Ferry lay listening from his bed. He died, aged 99, the following day. “Right there before my eyes was the one who said/ where are you now?” he writes in the title poem. “I said the brain in your head whispers . . . I said how beautiful is the past, how few the implements,/ and how carefully made . . . I said better not know too much too soon all about it.” The new book comes out this week, and the Grolier is hosting a launch celebration Wednesday, December 13 at 7 p.m. at 113 Brattle Street in Cambridge. Ferry spent almost 4 decades teaching at Wellesley College. His renown as a poet happened late in life: between age 65 and his death, he wrote ten books, translating epics including “Gilgamesh” and “The Aeneid,” and his collection “Bewilderment” won the National Book Award in 2012. “I wish I could recall now the lines written across my dream is what/ I said/ I said the horse’s hooves know all about it, the sky’s statement of/ oncoming darkness.” For more information and to register for the event, visit

The Harvard Gazette

Like all true love stories, this one comes with heartache


Scholar’s ‘Harvard Square’ more than an academic pursuit

Catherine J. Turco has a loving relationship with Harvard Square. She grew up in Cambridge, and holds three Harvard degrees. But after she moved away from the area and came back, she noticed the Square had changed, and she didn’t like it. Turco’s reaction was nothing new — in her research for “Harvard Square: A Love Story,” she encountered a century’s worth of mixed feelings, and sometimes flat-out dismay, about changes to Cambridge’s most famous meeting place. In its close study of how individuals interact with local marketplaces, the book reflects that tension.

“We develop emotional relationships with street-level markets like Harvard Square,” said Turco, now an economic sociologist at MIT’s Sloan School. “We attach to it, we love it, and then it breaks our heart when it changes.”

In this video, Turco walks us through the Square, explaining why we look to certain places for stability and security, even as they inevitably evolve.

The Boston Globe

In Harvard Square, the Painted Burro is a stylish replacement for the Border Cafe

Yucatan meatloaf at the Painted Burro in Harvard Square. LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

Where to: The Painted Burro in Harvard Square.

Why: For Mexican food, including fairly priced margaritas, in the old Border Cafe space.

The backstory: “I’d always identified Harvard Square as a place I wanted to open, and it’s really hard to get spaces there. They don’t come available very often,” says prolific restaurateur Joe Cassinelli, who runs Posto in Davis Square, Burro Bar in the South End, and the Painted Burro in Brookline, Davis Square, and Waltham.

When the Border Café officially closed in 2021 after a fire, he says, landlords from Harvard University cast about for a local tenant and approached him about moving in. He had big shoes to fill: Tumbling out of the smoky Border dining room after too many margaritas was a neighborhood rite of passage, right up there with Scorpion Bowls at the Hong Kong.

The Tex-Mex restaurant had lots of memories and some structural problems, too.

“We stripped the building to the brick,” he says.

Burro churros at the Painted Burro.
Burro churros at the Painted Burro. LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

The décor’s different now. The old upstairs dining room was a study in gaudy kitsch. The new space is muted and stylish, with murals from Medford artist Raul Gonzalez. And no need to stumble toward the downstairs dining room, either. Now, there’s a backlit staircase leading to plush booths and a gleaming bar. There’s even a ladies’ room fully stocked with toiletries and mints, 1950s steakhouse style.

What to eat: Cassinelli says that he lowered prices at all of his Painted Burro locations after talking to employees about cost of living increases everywhere from grocery stores to gas stations. Now, most dishes are under $20, and cocktails are about $10.

The upstairs bar at the Painted Burro in Harvard Square.
The upstairs bar at the Painted Burro in Harvard Square. LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

“I don’t want to call it a social experiment, but my thought is: If I lower the prices and do [more] volume, then it works out,” he says. “I shopped my vendors really hard and said, ‘This is not working. You need to find some deals and put the pressure on, or I’ll find someone who will.’ And they stepped up.”

The Burro’s signature Yucatan meatloaf ($18) is a husky slab of spicy sirloin, ground chorizo, and ham with flecks of green olives and toasted almonds; it’s satisfying on its own, but a shroud of cheesy grits and two over-easy eggs don’t hurt. Get two tacos plus rice and beans for $15, ranging from the classic (sirloin steak, grilled chicken) to the whimsical, like heirloom squash with cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts. Our table’s textural favorite: a juicy short rib “double stack” rolled in both a soft and crunchy corn tortilla. Pork and beef albondigas are served with a smoky, slurp-able adobo sauce ($13); kale and plantains ($7) need a little pop of salt, but scooping them up with the Burro’s thin, crackly house-made tortilla chips — sold in bulk at the front — solves that problem.

Vegetarians, take note: There’s lots to love on this menu, from grilled corn slathered in cojita and spicy mayo to Buffalo cauliflower tacos.

“Half the menu is vegetarian, and we can make the other half vegetarian if people want,” Cassinelli promises.

At the Painted Burro, “half the menu is vegetarian, and we can make the other half vegetarian if people want."
At the Painted Burro, “half the menu is vegetarian, and we can make the other half vegetarian if people want.” LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

What to drink: Cassinelli lowered his classic margarita prices from $14 to $9; they’re zippy and strong. Non-purists can explore raspberry, matcha coconut, mango pineapple, and more. The cocktail menu stretches beyond margaritas to include a warming Sailor’s Warning, a froth of rye served in a coupe glass topped with thyme and blood orange puree (look out for stray orange zest, though). There are also virgin strawberry margaritas and mojitos for underage explorers fresh off a trip to the Garage.

The Burro Cadillac, matcha coconut, and Feria de las Flores at the Painted Burro.
The Burro Cadillac, matcha coconut, and Feria de las Flores at the Painted Burro. LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF

The takeaway: A welcome, if more sophisticated, local replacement for a neighborhood institution.

Outside the Painted Burro in Harvard Square in Cambridge.
Outside the Painted Burro in Harvard Square in Cambridge. LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF
The Harvard Crimson

Latin American Restaurant Painted Burro Gallops Into Harvard Square

Painted Burro, which opened on Nov. 20, stands at the former location of the longstanding Border Cafe. By Nyla Nasir

Painted Burro, a Latin American restaurant and tequila bar, opened its third location in Harvard Square last Monday.

Located on 32 Church St., the new establishment stands in the former location of the Border Cafe and features a fuschia building facade.

Since opening in 2012 in Davis Square, the Painted Burro chain has since expanded to Waltham and now Harvard Square. There are also two Burro Bars — “smaller versions of Painted Burro” as described by chain owner and chef Joe Cassinelli — in the Boston area.

With its selection of grilled meats, fish, and moles, Painted Burro aims to highlight the diverse cuisines of Latin America. The restaurant also boasts an extensive alcohol menu, with margaritas, local beers, and a collection of more than 100 craft tequilas.

Painted Burro’s menu features classic Latin American appetizers, salads, and a wide variety of tacos ranging from cilantro grilled chicken to buffalo cauliflower. The restaurant also serves more sizable entrees, including swordfish, chimichangas, and more. On weekends, Painted Burro offers a bottomless brunch special — all-you-can-eat fare for $25.

To celebrate its grand opening, the restaurant is “throwing it back” to 2012 by featuring original dishes on the menu and 2012 prices, according to Cassinelli.

“You can expect some pretty attractive pricing,” Cassinelli added.

The opportunity to establish a Painted Burro location in Harvard Square arose when the space became available following the announcement of Border Cafe’s permanent closing in 2021.

“It was one of the easiest openings we’ve ever done,” Cassinelli said.

Customers can expect “great, upscale Mexican food” and a “lively environment,” according to Cassinelli. The 7,199-square-foot space is completely renovated and features two full bars, with a downstairs bar-lounge area open to private events.

The newly opened location has received positive feedback from diners.

“It’s not that expensive,” Jim Brown, a Cambridge resident, said. “The food is generous, and it’s good quality.”

Brown said his grits were “delicious” and spoke about how friendly the waitstaff were at the Painted Burro.

“I know three names, and I don’t remember names,” Brown said.

Painted Burro opens at 11 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends and closes around midnight. Brown added that their hours are a “big positive” for those who like to stay up late.

Charlotte Wagner, a local resident, said she had a “great experience” and mentioned how well decorated the space was, but thought that Painted Burro has to find its “mojo.”

“It has a really amazing bar, and I can imagine it with students and more people — and it’ll have its own vibe,” Wagner said.

Boston Restaurant Talk

The Painted Burro Opens in Harvard Square

Early last year, it was reported that a small group of Mexican restaurants was planning to expand to a new location in the heart of Cambridge, and now we have learned that it has finally opened.

The Boston Globe mentions that The Painted Burro is now open in Harvard Square, with the website for the business saying that its grand opening took place on November 20. As stated in an earlier article here, the new outlet has moved into the former Border Cafe space on Church Street, and it joins other locations in Somerville’s Davis Square and Waltham, while another outlet in Bedford shut down last spring.

The Painted Burro is part of The Alpine Restaurant Group, which also includes Posto in Somerville and Burro Bar in Brookline and Boston.

The address for the new location of The Painted Burro in Harvard Square is 32 Church Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138. The website for all locations is at


Harvard Square Gets Fired Up as The Painted Burro Delivers Sizzling Latin Flavors in the Former Border Cafe Location

Harvard Square just got a little more colorful and a lot more flavorful. The Painted Burro, a vibrant spot serving up modern interpretations of Latin American cuisine, has eagerly thrown open its doors in the bustling heart of Cambridge. As of Monday, diners have been flocking to the newcomer that has settled snugly into the old Border Cafe space on Church Street according to a report from The Boston Globe.

Bringing with it a reputation for a seasonal menu that tantalizes taste buds with diverse flavors from Latin America, The Painted Burro has been a culinary staple in Somerville’s Davis Square since 2012. Despite the closure of an outlet in Bedford last spring, the Harvard Square addition is said to be just the beginning for the growing brand. As reported by the restaurant’s official website, boasting over 100 craft tequilas, the goal at The Painted Burro is to “impart our local chef-driven styles into modern interpretations of Latin American cuisine with a strong respect for tradition.”

Owned by The Alpine Restaurant Group, which is also behind Somerville’s Posto and the Burro Bars in Brookline and Boston’s South End, The Painted Burro’s expansion into Harvard Square signifies the group’s confidence in their unique culinary offerings. The former Border Cafe space, having once been known for its own Tex-Mex flair, is now reimagined with the Burro’s signature styled moles and grilled meats and fish that the public has been devouring eagerly at other locations. The space on 32 Church Street breathes new life into the square’s dining scene a statement obtained by The Boston Globe confirms.

The addition of The Painted Burro to Harvard Square is not just about expanding its geographical footprint; it’s about sharing a philosophy of high-quality, creatively curated cuisine with new audiences. Patrons can sip on imaginative margaritas, sample local beers, or delve into select wines, all chosen to complement the rich flavors served. This latest outpost at 32 Church Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, ensures that no matter where locals and visitors find themselves in the greater Boston area, a unique dining experience awaits, just as the restaurant’s founders intended as it charmed into Somerville’s Davis Square in 2012 as per the insights from the restaurant’s official website.

The Boston Globe

The Painted Burro replaces the Border Cafe in Harvard Square

Plus, a Hanukkah pop-up and fan-favorite flatbread

OpeningsThe Painted Burro is open in Harvard Square (32 Church St.), replacing the much-missed Border Cafe. The Border suffered a major fire in 2019 and announced its permanent closure in 2021.

“We brought back some classics, and the menu prices are much lower,” says Burro owner Joe Cassinelli, who runs other locations in Somerville and Waltham.

Most dishes are under $20: Get spicy shrimp and squash tacos, chipotle meatballs, nachos, chorizo empanadas, and spicy meatloaf from 11 a.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends. On Friday and Saturday nights, guzzle margaritas until 1 a.m.