Harvard Square landmark newsstand to close. I often browsed there, never bought anything. Apparently, a lot of people were like me.
The closing inspired this list.
Defunct Harvard Square businesses worthy of mourning:
- Out of Town News.
- Elsie’s. A long-time sandwich institution. They made a hell of a roast beef sandwich, heavy on the Russian dressing. Replaced by a dire “wrap” restaurant my freshman year, 1990, when “wrap” was the new “sandwich.”
- Nick’s Beef and Beer House. Usually known as “Nick’s Eef and E Ho” thanks to the management’s disinclination to replace missing letters on the marquee. The greasy cheeseburgers here were about as good as the ones at the much closer Charlie’s Kitchen (which is to say, very good) but much, much cheaper.
- Wordsworth. Always thought of as second fiddle to Harvard Book Store, but I probably bought more books here overall. HaBoSto put stuff on the front table that was going to be in New York Review of Books; Wordsworth was more likely to promote whatever first novel the guys at the desk liked. Their spin-off children’s bookstore, Curious George, is magnificent and still doing a vigorous business at the heart of the Square.
- Campo de’ Fiori. First-rate Roman-style square pizza in the heavily travelled corridor through Holyoke Center. There was usually a line. That these guys somehow went under is the surest sign I’ve seen that the fundamentals of our economy are unsound.
- C’est Bon. Lebanese convenience store that made a wonderful dolmades sandwich — my take-out meal of choice whenever I was rushing to catch the T.
Defunct Harvard Square businesses not worthy of mourning:
- The Tasty. Foul all-night diner with no redeeming qualities. I once saw someone pour a bottle of ketchup on semi-notable ice skater Nicole Bobek here.
- Cafe Avventura. Upstairs in the Garage; named for the intestinal adventure enjoyed by all who patronized it. Also known as “Three-plate pizza” (for the number of plates one greasy slice could soak through in the time it took to eat the other) and “Bad pizza” (no explanation necessary.)
- The Crimson Sports Grille. Noxious.
- The Wursthaus and The Skewers. Controversial picks! I liked both places, and I think they’re generally warmly remembered. But when I de-gauze my memories, I seem to recall that the Wursthaus was satisfyingly caloric but dark and cheerless, and that the Skewers was a mediocre Middle Eastern sandwich shop that didn’t measure up to C’est Bon.
Current business that would truly be terrible to lose:
- It’s actually a short list. Mr. Bartley’s, obviously, still serving the best hamburgers in the United States after almost 50 years. The Brattle Theatre. Maybe Schoenhof’s. Maybe the Million Year Picnic.
Feel free to add to the lists in comments — there’s no wikipedia page for “closed Harvard square businesses” so I’m sure I’ve missed a lot.