There are a small handful of wealthy landlords who own the majority of the commercial properties in the square. They have prioritized maximizing rent above all other goals, resulting in the continued mallification of the area at the expense of local businesses that actually benefit local students and residents.
Bummer. But kind of a win for me as I’ll be closer to Revival that I was to Crema. I had been peripherally following the build-out but forgot the link between the two. After all, how can one not keep track of a project being driven by someone named Nookie?
It’s so sad. Many of us remember when the Square had only independent businesses. Some of us oldies remember when they pedestrianized that stretch of Brattle Street in front of Crema around to Church Street (totally dating myself!!!).
when was that pedestrian stretch installed? I was there from 1973 to 1977 and don’t remember it…
1971-72 for about 6 months, maybe a bit longer. It was very cool, they painted giant polka dots in primary colors on the street. The shopkeepers hated it though, they claimed it hurt business. This is all I could find about it in a quick Google search.
I’ve tried to roll with the changes, but it’s hard to argue that the square wasn’t much more vibrant when places like Wursthaus, The Greenhouse, The Tasty, Upstairs at the PUDDING, Cafe Algiers, Brine’s Sports, Rizzo’s, etc. (just to name a few) were all in existence.
Crema was relatively new, but at least it served a purpose, was a meeting spot and not a chain.
If Brattle Square Florist closes, that might be the last straw for me.
Crema will be replaced by an Australian coffee chain called Bluestone Lane:
The article also says that Crema’s sales have dropped 30-35% in the past two years, which surprised me; I’m not there that often, but it always seems full when I go.
That surprises me as well. Crema was always packed and I often bypass it because the line is too long. They could have gotten people through ordering and paying more quickly and tried to police people who were parked at the tables upstairs, however those things have been consistent since they opened.
Also, the bit about Asana Partners not renewing the lease because of declining revenues makes no sense. They didn’t renew the lease either because Crema didn’t want to pay the new rate and/or they had a chain ready to pay $ for the space. It sounds like Crema was happy to leave HSQ for perceived greener pastures in Somerville.
really interesting, and I guess to be expected in that time and place. I’m sorry I missed it! Harvard Square was really, really different back in the early 70’s from what it became later, and later, and later…
yep, Harvard Square used to be so much more vibrant and interesting. When I came in 1973 from a small town in the south, I was stunned and thrilled with how many, many bookstores there were in very close proximity (including foreign language bookstores), the number of languages you could hear being spoken on the street, the first frozen yogurt place, the Garage, and most of all that people were eating ice cream on the street during snowstorms.
the other thing to note is what will be moving into the Crema Cafe space is Bluestone Lane, which is a project from RSE Ventures–who are themselves a wing of the giant real estate firm Related. They’re also the folks behind the Milk Bar/& Pizza thing down the block. (and the Momofuku expansions).
Places like Harvard Square are sadly only mostly open to places backed by millions in venture capital these days, I think. Eater New York had a recent piece on RSE/Related (hat tip to Drew Starr from the Hidden Boston Facebook group for pointing this out).
Who better to date than you?
(Sorry, couldn’t pass up an easy shot.)
Thanks for the account of 1970’s Harvard Square. My time here dates from around 1990, so that was past pedestrianization, but I do remember the many used bookstores around Church street. (There’s finally one back in the area – the excellent Raven Books – but there used to be several back then.) There’s less and less reason to go to Harvard Square any more just to hang out for an afternoon.
I would have loved to see Brattle st partially pedestrianized! My time dates from 1980 on, and even then it was a far better place than now. The bookstore I mourn the most for though is Victor Hugo Books on Newbury St. Soon Harvard SQ will be nothing but banks, chain stores, and Starbucks. The 10% that isn’t now, that is.
I wonder if the English at Revival in Alewife, and soon to be in Davis, are the same as the Crema English. Chef Nookie is partnering with Liza Shirazi, one of the two original Crema owners, in the two Revivals. I’ve had the breakfast sandwich on house-English twice and this is how they looked. I’m not familiar enough with the Crema English to know if they are similar. That said, we’ve enjoyed quite a bit the coffee and sandwiches at Revival Alewife, including the sandwich on English.
Actually it makes a lot of sense - many, many restaurant leases include (in addition to the “base” lease) also percentage of the revenues for the landlord. If a place like Crema has significant declining revenues the landlord won’t have any interest to offer a new lease
This looks shinier than the English muffin at Crema.
(Also what’s with the square egg – do they use a pre-beaten egg solution at Revival that they pour into square molds?)
Speaking of snow storms, remember the shut-down of Cambridge during the blizzard of '78? Blue Parrot was open and serving fresh salads. They had an employee who was an avid cross-country skier and skied over to the Chelsea wholesale market for produce.
I graduated in June 1977 and I’m so sad I missed the blizzard of '78…I was living in Memphis then.
It’s a really delicate egg prep, very tender. Not really soufle-like, maybe mixed with heavy cream and baked gently??? Not sure. We quite enjoyed it. Moody’s (at least in the pork roll sandwich), Flour and Area Four also use what seems to be a baked egg prep, but this was a little moister and creamier. Not necessarily better, but good.
The English is almost a muffin-sandwich roll hybrid.
I don’t think the ones at Crema have a shiny top. I’ll obviously have to visit ASAP and refresh my memory.