Vanity Fair

Obama, Bezos, and Mr. Wonderful: Inside the Hash House of Harvard’s Elite

Henrietta’s Table might not look like a three-star restaurant—but its clientele would have you guessing otherwise. “There’s no telling who you’re going to see,” says one patron, while another dubs it “a global nexus.”

n 2010, Derrick Rossi and Ken Chien, then colleagues at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, found themselves attending another coworker’s wedding. During the reception, after the “I do’s,” Rossi asked Chien a question, one that would lead to the creation of Moderna, the multibillion-dollar Covid-19 vaccine maker. “I have this finding and I’m thinking about starting a company. Would you like to hear about it?” Back at Chien’s lab, Rossi mentioned that Robert Langer, another academic, was also interested in joining the founding group. When it came to where they might discuss the venture as a trio, Chien had just the place in mind: “I said, ‘Let’s have breakfast at Henrietta’s,’ because that’s kind of the place that people go to.”

Every city with movers and shakers has a power breakfast spot. New York? The Loews Regency. Washington, DC? It’s a small schlep to the Georgetown Four Seasons. Los Angeles? The Polo Lounge. So it should come as no surprise that Harvard University, a city-within-a-city, has its own stomping ground, with enough hungry power players to field a panel at Davos.

Henrietta’s Table, an airy farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Harvard Square, is nestled on the second floor of the Bill Gates–backed Charles Hotel, the see-and-be-seen spot for billionaires, academics, billionaire academics, world leaders, venture capitalists, newspaper columnists, Harvard parents who are all of those things, and Mr. Wonderful, the guy who always sits in the middle of the Shark Tank dais. “You can talk to people in London, Geneva, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, they’ve all been there,” Mr. Wonderful, aka Kevin O’Leary, tells me. “It’s a global nexus.”

Henrietta’s first opened its doors in 1995, long before hipsters laid claim to the farm-to-table movement. The Charles Hotel had opened 10 years prior and quickly became the go-to luxury spot in an area dotted with bed-and-breakfasts and buildings as old as John Harvard himself. At the time, Harvard Square was still a few decades away from turning into the Disney Springs shopping village of the Ivy League.

Today, the cityscape looks very different. And while many mom-and-pop shops have since been replaced with eateries elegant and extravagant, Henrietta’s Table remains the go-to spot. “You know that the service is going to be good, the food is going to be good,” says Ashish Jha, a former Harvard professor who later joined the Biden administration to oversee its Covid-19 pandemic response plan. “Henriettas’s has a reliability that makes the actual act of eating breakfast almost sort of in the background.”

Just over half the diners are affiliated with Harvard, according to Alex Attia, the hotel’s general manager. The restaurant “often seems to function like an auxilliary [sic] faculty club,” Martha Minow, a Harvard Law School professor and former CBS Corporation board member wrote over email. The 200-seat interior is coastal grandmother meets colonial Williamsburg (Virginia, not Brooklyn), with a Revolution-era terminology to match (dinner is “supper” and the kitchen whips up $15 “red flannel hash”). The slat chairs, simple menu, and open kitchen make it feel like you’re dining in a New England country home instead of a stuffy, soulless hotel. “It’s home cooking, it’s the typical eggs and bacon and hash that you can make at home if you want,” Attia says. “That’s the focus of the menu.” The most popular items include the $18 french toast (a favorite of early-riser Al Roker) and $14 yogurt parfait.

Unlike the Regency or the Four Seasons, you’ll find that restaurant chatter extends well beyond the world of politics and high finance, with academia always in the mix. Attia says Harvard University president Claudine Gay is a regular. (“This is her place for breakfasts and for dinners,” he notes.) Attia, who took the helm in 2003, bops from table to table, greeting a who’s who of influential figures every morning. Broadway bigwig Diane Paulus is known to break bread there and Snap Inc. chairman Michael Lynton has been spotted too. “There’s no telling who you’re going to see, from governors to mayors to Jeff Bezos, Henry Kissinger,” Harvard basketball coach Tommy Amaker says.

When Amaker was hired to coach Harvard’s basketball team in 2007, he asked the late Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. to breakfast at Henrietta’s. The two had gotten to know each other as Amaker became acclimated at Harvard. By the end of their meal, Amaker asked Ogletree if they could do it again. Ogletree brought a few other professors with him the following time, setting in motion “the breakfast club,” a monthly get-together of famous faces and members of the Harvard basketball team. Amaker tells me speakers have included President Barack Obama, three Massachusetts governors, Senator Raphael Warnock, former education secretary (and former Harvard basketball player) Arne Duncan, and Jacinda Ardern, the former prime minister of New Zealand, among many others. According to Amaker, the breakfast club has become so popular that people running for office now ask him if they can speak at the gathering. “It’s that kind of room, they know it. It has that kind of cachet.”

When Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, came to speak to Amaker’s group last year, he noted the personal significance of returning to Henrietta’s, a restaurant he was familiar with during the early stages of his relationship with the former first lady, Michelle Obama. “He said it was always the nicest. He said, ‘I didn’t have a lot of money then,’” Amaker recounted, so “‘for us to be able to eat at Henrietta’s was a big deal.’”

Nick Kristof, the globe-trotting New York Times opinion columnist and a former member of Harvard University’s Board of Overseers, has spent many nights at the Charles Hotel and run into many a world leader there. So, naturally, the hotel’s main breakfast spot is where the mighty start their day. “Henrietta’s Table is the world’s crossroads,” he wrote in an email. “I’ve run into everyone there from Madeline Albright to Sudan’s foreign minister to Yemen’s Nobel Peace Prize winner.”

Back in the 1990s, when Kevin O’Leary was building what later became known as The Learning Company, Henrietta’s was a Shark Tank of its own. O’Leary, ever the dealmaker, knew that venture capitalists would spot him at the restaurant with rival firms, drumming up even more interest in the company. “We raised billions at The Learning Company,” O’Leary says. “I always made sure that we’d start [at Henrietta’s], and we’d do two or three meetings there, and everybody would know that we were negotiating.”

Since then, the restaurant has, to a certain extent, preserved its reputation as a prime destination for dealmaking. “If you didn’t want people to know that you were meeting with this or that Senator or member of Congress or something, you would avoid Henrietta’s Table,” says Larry Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor and a frequent political commentator. Still, Tribe adds, “If people had confidential dealings that they wanted to engage in, that’s probably the last place they’d go.”

It’s also become a hot spot for chance encounters, where diners like Jha would shoot the breeze with people they wouldn’t typically have time to see. “The idea of running into other people was never consciously in my head,” he says, “but the number of times I went there for breakfast and ran into somebody I knew was way more often than times when I didn’t.”

But of course, it’s not all muckety-mucks. Sitting just feet away from cabinet secretaries, media moguls, and famous academics are a few groggy students visiting their grandparents, unaware of the powerful luminaries surrounding them. It’s not the Nobel Prize, but waking up in time to behold such a towering tableau is something.

The Crimson

Blank Street Coffee Brews Up a Stir in Harvard Square

Blank Street Coffee, a chain known for its efficiency and lower priced coffee, celebrated its grand opening on Thursday with $2 drinks and lines spilling out into the Square.

Situated on 1380 Massachusetts Ave., the Harvard Square location is Blank Street’s fourth storefront in the Greater Boston area. During a soft opening Tuesday, Blank Street boasted completely free drinks.

The chain was founded in 2020 and has since expanded to operate more than 70 stores in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and London. According to Blank Street co-founder Vinay Menda, Harvard Square is the chain’s first location on a college campus.

“We were drawn to Cambridge — with a mix of students, faculty and local residents, we feel Harvard Square is a natural fit for our next storefront,” Menda wrote in an emailed statement.

Blank Street Chief of Staff Evan S. Mateen ’20 wrote in an email that he believes the store’s space — adjacent to Harvard Yard and the Smith Campus Center — is the “perfect location” for students to grab a coffee between classes.

“As a Harvard alum, it’s always been a goal of mine to bring Blank Street to campus. Harvard Square is one of the key nodes in Cambridge, so I’m honored for Blank Street to have a presence there,” Mateen wrote.

“When I was at Harvard, I wished there were more high quality, convenient options around campus, so I’m excited that we’re able to offer exactly what I was looking for during my time there,” he added. “As a brand, we believe in enriching daily rituals and we know coffee is an important one, especially with college students.”

In recent years, several new coffee shops have opened up in the Square, including Faro Café and a Starbucks just footsteps away.

Blank Street’s locations “prioritize convenience,” according to Menda. Customers can order ahead on the mobile app and participate in a subscription program called “Regulars,” a subscription service that costs a fixed rate for up to 14 drinks per week.

The Crimson

Renovations to the Garage Mall in Harvard Square Stalled Until ‘Major, Quality Tenant’ Identified

Since unveiling plans to completely transform the Garage in 2021, the developer’s president said the company is “choosing not to proceed” with the building’s redevelopment until it finds a “major, quality tenant.”

The Garage is a shopping center at 36 JFK St. that houses a number of Harvard Square businesses and restaurants, including Lê’s Vietnamese Restaurant, Subway, and Newbury Comics. The developer — Trinity Property Management — planned to renovate the structure into a six-story building.

John P. DiGiovanni, president of Trinity Property Management, said the “vast majority” of the new building will be office space. Without a tenant to rent this space, the project will be “way too expensive,” DiGiovanni said, even though the project has received nearly all city permits.

DiGiovanni said plans to redevelop the Garage began around five years ago when Trinity began studying the problems faced by its tenants and found that the Garage’s “physical conditions” do not “meet the demands” of the current generation.

“I could see that our tenants, particularly on the second floor and even interior food — their sales were dropping,” DiGiovanni said, adding that these businesses “couldn’t compete” with those on the street level.

In addition, the building is energy inefficient, and the Mt. Auburn Street and JFK Street entrances are inaccessible, he said.

“We were trying to find a way to just preserve it and just make some tweaks and make it more accessible or interesting,” DiGiovanni said.

“That was really not viable — and in some cases, you hate to say this in a construction way, almost physically impossible,” he added.

The proposed building includes approximately 89,000 square feet of space and would be six stories tall, with the upper floors being mostly office space and the lower ones dedicated to retail.

It will also be LEED gold-certified — the second-highest energy efficiency rating — and “engage with the district, the street in a way that it ought to in the 21st century,” according to DiGiovanni.

Since announcing the renovation plans in 2021, DiGiovanni said the project has received “across-the-board support” from approval bodies, but it must find a tenant with good credit so the project can be “financeable.”

DiGiovanni said it was “unfortunate” that the Covid-19 pandemic hit during the planning process, adding that both “the lack of demand for office space” and higher costs have affected Trinity’s ability to move forward with the development.

Once the project kicks off, DiGiovanni said the entire process — from demolition to putting up a new structure — would take “around 30 to 36 months.”

Since the announcement of the redevelopment plans, some of the Garage’s tenants have departed because they “want certainty,” according to DiGiovanni, who said these exits have been a “loss” for Trinity.

In March, longtime tenant Lê’s said it planned to relocate to Boston’s Chinatown once renovations began, disappointing some Cambridge residents and Harvard affiliates.

“We’re going to work with any of our tenants that want to come back,” DiGiovanni said.

Harvard Gazette

City approves new home for A.R.T. in Allston

Project includes large residential building for Harvard affiliates, will add to vibrancy of emerging hub of creativity, innovation

he Boston Planning and Development Agency on Thursday approved an innovative new University project in Allston that will serve as the new home for the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) and add 276 residential units amid a housing crunch in Greater Boston.

The 70,000 square-foot David E.  and Stacey L. Goel Center for Creativity and Performance will include two flexible performance venues, rehearsal studios, teaching spaces, a spacious public lobby, and an outdoor performance yard. The 175 North Harvard St. project will also include a residential building that can accommodate about 500 Harvard affiliates in units ranging in size from studios to four-bedroom townhouses.

“Harvard is delighted to move ahead with creating a new home for the A.R.T. in Allston. This center for creativity and performance will enable the A.R.T. to expand its remarkable and dynamic work and will add to the creative energy already developing within the Harvard Innovation Labs, Harvard Business School, the Science Engineering Complex, and the emerging Enterprise Research Campus, all within the existing robust arts scene in Allston,” said Harvard’s Executive Vice President Meredith Weenick.

“We are thrilled that the creation of significant new University housing might reduce pressure on a stressed local housing market and create further opportunities for the Harvard community to more deeply engage in Allston’s creative and distinct neighborhood culture,” she said. “We are grateful to the city of Boston, the BPDA, and our Allston-Brighton community partners and elected officials for their collaboration and engagement throughout this process.”

The project will be located around the corner from the University’s Science and Engineering Complex on Western Avenue and a half-mile from the Enterprise Research Campus, which is under development in partnership with Tishman Speyer. Planners hope the creation of a new home for A.R.T. and significant residential space will further enhance and add vibrancy to an area that is becoming a hub of creativity and innovation in Allston.

A leading force in the American theater, the A.R.T. has produced groundbreaking theater at the Loeb Drama Center on Brattle Street in Harvard Square since its founding in 1980. A gift to Harvard in 2019 of $100 million from College alumnus David E. ’93 and Stacey L. Goel catalyzed the process of reimagining the University’s arts campus to include a new home for the A.R.T. that would enhance the arts communities on campus and in Greater Boston.

The Boston Globe

From ice cream at Bailey’s to high school with Matt Damon, Grendel’s Den restaurateur Kari Kuelzer personifies Harvard Square

And now she has a new neighborhood pub: Sea Hag.

Kari Kuelzer, 53, lives in the Cambridge house she grew up in — convenient, since she also runs Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square, her second home since her parents started it in 1971.

She’s been well-known around the neighborhood for decades and even grew up doing theater with Matt Damon in his breakdancing days. In fact, Kuelzer enjoyed a show-biz stint in Los Angeles, too. But, unlike her famous classmate, she returned home to become known on a smaller stage. Now she’s in charge at Grendel’s (with some serving help from her college-age son, another Rindge graduate).

A few weeks ago, she branched out with another cozy pub down the street, Sea Hag. For those who aren’t literary scholars: Both names are nods to “Beowulf.” Her late mom christened the original, and Sea Hag is Kuelzer’s tribute to her.

Boston Herald

Seasonal shopping + charming scenes = great local holiday markets

In Hallmark holiday movies, the shopping scenes always have the same vibe: Cute, cozy, outdoorsy with lots of places for characters to get toasty. There’s rarely a mall, seldom a big box store and almost never a tablet screen for the shopping center.

Luckily, we can find that in real-life.

Welcome to the holiday market set up, a concept that’s taken on a myriad of interpretations. Across the Bay State, you’ll find all kinds of great holiday markets, from seaside and quaint to bustling in the big city.

They all share this in common: You’ll not only find your Hallmark holiday shopping bliss, you’ll find unique gifts as well. Consider these options, a few of the many holiday markets out there this season.

Harvard Square Holiday Fair: A tradition since 1986, the Harvard Square Holiday Fair ( takes place this year Dec. 15-17 and Dec. 21-23.

Daily Voice

Get Your Caffeine Fix At Blank Street’s New Harvard Square Location

Java junkies rejoice as Blank Street Coffee opens up shop in Harvard Square in Cambridge, its fourth location in Boston after entering the area in August 2022.

<p>Blank Street Coffee is set to open a new location in Cambridge.</p>

Similar to past Boston openings, Blank Street Harvard Square on 1380 Massachusetts Avenue will offer baked goods from Salem-based A&J King, as well as offering $2 drinks for the first two days of opening starting Thursday, Nov. 16.

“Boston has welcomed us with open arms since we opened our first store in the area last August, and we are excited to continue growing our presence with our new location at Harvard Square,” Vinay Menda, Blank Street’s co-founder, told the Daily Voice. “We can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the Harvard community and bring Blank Street to students, faculty and locals!”

College students will also be happy to know that Blank Street has a Regulars program, the store’s loyalty program that offers a subscription to get free drinks or at a reduced price.

Some of the coffee drinks available on opening day include:

  • Shaken Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew
  • Shaken Brown Sugar Cold Brew
  • Cortado Cold Brew
  • Shaken Chai Cold Brew
  • Pistachio Latte
  • Strawberries & Cream Latte
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte
Broadway World

Arrow Street Arts Announces March 2024 Launch Festival, Produced By Liars And Believers; CCF Funding Now Open

Arrow Street Arts announces March 2024 launch festival celebrating the official opening of its Harvard Square venue.

Arrow Street Arts Announces March 2024 Launch Festival, Produced By Liars And Believers; CCF Funding Now Open

Arrow Street Arts, Inc. (ASA), a Cambridge, MA-based non-profit, announces the official opening of its new venue in Harvard Square with a week-long Launch Festival in late March 2024. Produced by Cambridge-based Liars and Believers (LaB) led by executive producer Georgia Lyman and artistic director Jason Slavick, the festival will offer a wide variety of performances, events, and community gatherings celebrating the vibrant diversity of the Greater Boston performing arts community. ASA’s Launch Festival marks the beginning of the venue’s inaugural year of activity, with the facility beginning regular operations on April 1, 2024.

Arrow Street Arts, founded by David Altshuler, a long-time Cambridge resident and arts advocate, reflects the vision that “Art Creates Community and Community Creates Belonging.” A multi-space performance and event facility, the venue hosted a mid-construction, soft-opening activation of its main theater with Moonbox Productions’ presentation of Sweeney Todd that just completed a successful four-week run. ASA’s street-front Studio will be activated as a rehearsal, class, and small presentation space in early December 2023. Final renovations to the building and installation of seating and theatrical systems will be completed this winter before the full opening.

ASA and Liars and Believers will launch an open call to performing artists later this month with the goal of assembling a varied range of performances and genres to occur during the opening festival. These performing artists will be selected by a jury panel assembled by LaB’s Executive Producer Georgia Lyman, and the opening programming will include these artists alongside a group of curated performances and a special performance by Liars and Believers. If selected, artists will receive a compensation package to produce their works. Selected artists will be notified in January 2024, and more information about the programming of the opening festival will be announced shortly thereafter.

More information on guidelines and submitting an application for festival performers is available at

New Fund at Cambridge Community Foundation Expands Access to ASA Spaces  

In addition to its revitalization of the two performance spaces, Arrow Street Arts has partnered with the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) to increase equitable access to the performance spaces for artists and arts organizations who wish to present their work at ASA’s venues. The foundation of and for all of Cambridge, CCF aspires to make the community vibrant, just, and equitable for all, today and into the future.

CCF launched the first grantmaking cycle from CCF’s Arrow Street Arts Fund on November 6, 2023. For more information on how apply, visit:

ASA founder David Altshuler says, “We are thrilled to kick off our inaugural year of programming in our new performance spaces with our opening Launch Festival. We know partnering with Georgia and Jason and Liars and Believers will be a fantastic collaboration to bring in dynamic performing artists who will utilize the spaces to their fullest capacity. Through our relationship with the Cambridge Community Foundation, we can’t wait to welcome a wide array of local artists and creators. This festival will further promote Cambridge as an artistic hub.”

“Through our partnership with Arrow Street Arts, we hope to increase access, particularly for artists from historically underserved and diverse backgrounds, to affordable and welcoming arts spaces in Cambridge,” said Christina Turner, director of programs and grantmaking at CCF. “This fund is one piece in the Foundation’s commitment to strengthening the creative capacity of arts and culture in Cambridge now and into the future.”

Informed by the region’s well-documented need for accessible rehearsal and performance spaces, most notably in the Boston Performing Arts Facilities Assessment and Cambridge’s Mayor’s Arts Task Force Report, Arrow Street Arts addresses the pressing need of small to mid-size organizations and individual artists for spaces accommodating audiences ranging from 150-600. Outfitted with comprehensive lighting, sound, and production capacities, ASA’s facility offers both venues and production services that will help meet community and artists’ needs.

Locally focused and artist-centric, Arrow Street Arts is committed to being a learning organization, exploring issues of affordability, access, equity, and sustainability and increasing the resources available to artists and community organizations, such as the Arrow Street Arts Fund at the Cambridge Community Foundation.

Founded by David Altshuler, with renovations planned by Charles Rose Architects, the 11,500 square-foot Arrow Street facility will be revitalized with extensive production enhancements to two flexible performance spaces and other upgrades that will enhance both the audience and artist experiences. A 4,500 square-foot black box theater will offer various seating configurations for up to approximately 300 audience members, and a new 1,100 square-foot street-front studio will offer a more intimate venue for smaller presentations and events as well as rehearsals and classes. Both multi-use spaces will support projects across a range of artistic genres, including theater, spoken word/readings, dance, music, and film.