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WCVB-TV

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.

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The Harvard Gazette

Like all true love stories, this one comes with heartache

VIDEO

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.

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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.

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Boston 25 News

Things to do in Massachusetts this weekend

Looking for something to do this weekend? Boston 25 has a few ideas for you.

Harvard Square Oktoberfest and Honk Parade

If you’re seeking something a bit more seasonal this October weekend, head to the 44th annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest and Honk Parade in Cambridge. On Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can enjoy a variety of beer gardens, food, crafts, entertainment on two stages, and the lively honk parade! Also joining this event is the 2nd annual Filipino American festival

Wherever you go this weekend, have fun!

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Universal Hub

Historic golden rooster in Harvard Square could soon come down for repairs – and possible sale

Drone video of the more damaged side, by First Church.

The leaders of First Church in Cambridge plan to take down the “golden cockerel” weathervane that has topped the church spire since 1873 for repairs. But in discussions set to begin this Sunday, parishioners will consider whether the church should then put the historic rooster back atop the spire – or sell it.

Although the weathervane has long been a part of the Cambridge scene, the dawn-seeking golden bird dates back even further – to colonial Boston, when it was created as a way to slyly – and publicly – insult a North End minister.

Local historian Charles Bahne recounts that coppersmith Shem Drowne – who also built the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall – crafted the cockerel in 1721, on commission from a group of Bostonians who were angrily splitting away from a local church and building their own congregation:

It originally stood on the New Brick Church on Hanover Street in the North End, which later became home to the Second Church in Boston. Paul Revere worshipped in that building for most of his life; Ralph Waldo Emerson preached there for 3 years, before he gave up the ministry to become a writer and philosopher.

New Brick Church was the product of a bitter dispute amongst parishioners of a different North End parish, the New North, and the rooster form of its weathervane was intended as a deliberate insult to Peter Thacher, a minister at New North: in the Bible, Peter betrays Christ when the cock crows. Upon placing the new weathervane on its spindle for the first time, “a merry fellow straddled over it, and crowed three times to complete the ceremony.”

The new parishioners really hated Thacher. In fact, on the day he was installed as minister of New North (on a vote of the church “brethren”) a procession through the North End had to be called off, and Thacher quietly led through alleys to the church, for fear his haters would attack him. And then they filled the church balconies and, according to one account, “did sprinkle a liquor, which shall be nameless, upon the people below.”

New Brick Church actually backed up against the Revere family property – and was one of the most prominent structures in the town, so the insult really stood out.

In 1768, Revere himself included the church in an engraving showing British soldiers landing in Boston after riots against the Townshend Acts the year before.

From Revere’s engraving (complete image):

Part of Revere engraving showing the rooster
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WHDH

Two Boston-area restaurants serving up Hawaiian specials to help to feed families affected by deadly wildfires

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) – Two local restaurants are serving up support for those impacted by the deadly Hawaiian wildfires. They’re participating in a nationwide movement to help feed the families of those who lost everything.

Throughout the month of September, you can help support the cause.

World Central Kitchen, a charity organization, is teaming up with restaurants for #ChefsforHawaii to provide much needed meals for those devastated by the recent wildfires. 

At least 115 were killed when the fires ripped through the island of Maui. Thousands more were left without a place to call home.

Daniel Roughan is the owner of Source restaurant in Harvard Square. His restaurant is one of the local eateries helping to support World Central Kitchen’s mission.

“We need to remember that we are one nation, and this is our opportunity to help our brothers and sisters out there,” Roughan said. “Anything we can do to help, that’s what we’re doing so everything Tuesday come down and support the cause, it’s a great cause and be the nation that we really are.”

Throughout the month of September, Source will be holding “Tiki Tuesdays” complete with Hawaiian themed food and drinks. Roughan said they will donate the majority of the profits eerie Tuesday to help the people of Maui. THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER, SOURCE WILL BE HOLDING “TIKI 

“So come have fun, enjoy the Tiki Tuesday,” he said. “It’s kitschy it’s fun, it’s fresh, but know that while having fun, you’re helping someone.”

Monument in Charlestown is mixing up a special cocktail “Maui Love.” The restaurant said this charity cocktail will be available all month, and a portion of every drink sold will go to World Central Kitchen.

World Central Kitchen said it has donated nearly 100,000 meals to those impacted by the wildfires. 

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WCVB

Power restored to Harvard Square after manhole explosions

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —

Power was restored to an area of Cambridge late Wednesday night after a series of manhole fires in Harvard Square.

The area was closed to both pedestrians and vehicles following a pair of manhole fires at 9 a.m.. A third fire occurred several hours later.

High levels of carbon monoxide were also detected in nearby businesses, which were evacuated.

Crews were forced to shut off power to control the fires, Eversource spokesperson Chris McKinnon said. Crews restored power to the area just before 11 p.m.

Eversource said the fires were most likely cause by an “underground secondary electric cable fault.” Crews will be working through the next several days to make permanent repairs to the electric equipment.

One firefighter involved in the response suffered an injury unrelated to the explosions and was taken to the hospital, where he’s expected to recover.

Photos provided by witnesses showed heavy smoke rising from a manhole in the middle of the street.

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WHDH

Repairs continue after manhole explosions in Cambridge send flames shooting onto Harvard Square

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) – Parts of Harvard Square remain closed to both vehicle and foot traffic after multiple manhole explosions sent flames shooting into the air on Wednesday and crews continue to work to fix the issue.

Crews could still be seen in the area on Thursday morning and several area businesses remained closed.

The Cambridge Fire Department said crews were originally called to the area of 27 Brattle Street before 8:45 a.m. for reports of a structure fire, only to soon discover heavy smoke billowing from the ground.

By 9 a.m., firefighters were checking for exposure to surrounding buildings, with both Cambridge police officers and Transit Police Department personnel also responding. A short time later on X, the Cambridge Police Department said Harvard Square was shut down to pedestrians and vehicles as crews continued to monitor the situation.

Cambridge Fire Chief Thomas Cahill said that after the fire was put out, crews remained on scene throughout the afternoon to ventilate carbon monoxide. As of 10 p.m., crews were still working outside businesses, such as the Coop, which are still danger of carbon monoxide leaks.

“There’s not a timeline for businesses reopening at this time,” Cahill said. “We can’t fully control the CO levels in a lot of these businesses right now. We do have a third manhole that’s active. Eversource is working diligently to secure the power to that but until that power is secure and we know it’s secure it’s going to generate carbon monoxide.”

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NBC Boston

Multiple manhole explosions in Cambridge’s Harvard Square forced evacuations, closures

When firefighters arrived they spent the first 45 minutes evacuating businesses due to dangerously high carbon monoxide levels

A manhole explosion in Cambridge’s Harvard Square on Wednesday morning caused major traffic disruptions, according to police.

Cambridge police said the manhole explosion was reported around 8:30 a.m. in the vicinity of 27 Brattle Street. Firefighters were working to extinguish a fire following the explosion, and Eversource is also at the scene.

Fire officials said Wednesday afternoon that there were two separate manhole explosions, and a third one that was actively smoking. When firefighters arrived they spent the first 45 minutes evacuating businesses due to dangerously high carbon monoxide levels.

“We had very high CO readings, well over 100, at a number of the businesses in this area,” Acting Fire Chief Thomas F. Cahill Jr. told reporters, adding that anything above 0 is of concern, and they begin evacuations at 35 parts per million (ppm).