Monday December 17th, 2018 was the last day of Crema Cafe, a Harvard Square institution. With Our Harvard Square, friends from the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, and others, we hosted “Support Crema Day” to demonstrate our support for this Harvard Square institution, which was being forced out because the new landlord tripled the rent.
We met community members and also collecting signatures and comments and as to why Crema matters to them. The Petition to Save Crema Cafe is available online, so please sign if you haven’t already: https://www.change.org/p/save-crema-cafe-in-harvard-square
We understand that Crema Cafe being able to re-open is a slim chance, even though the owner would like to open in Harvard Square if given fair rental terms. However, a hopeful precedent to study is the venerable Curious George Store, who launched an Change.org Petition that gathered 5,962 signatures, as it was being threatened to close with the renovations of the Abbot Buildings. Yet, it was not just a popular movement that secured Curious George’s survival. The advocacy of then City Councillor, now Cambridge Mayor and the Harvard Square Business Association were critical.
An article yesterday in Cambridge Scout was groundbreaking as it wrote about the issue of Crema Cafe in the context of the wider system that threatens our local, small, independent businesses: Cambridge Scout reports on other businesses expected to close this year. The article quoted business owners, Executive Director of Cambridge Local First, and Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, who all expressed their deep concerns for where Harvard Square is heading, and how we must take action.
With community members, we are hoping to form a multi-pronged approach to support all the businesses who have been evicted or who are under risk of being evicted by the landlord of “Brattle Court” and the other properties in Harvard Square. Here’s more information on the property and its landlord: CBRE Sells Brattle Court for $108M. What community organizations are proposing, will not be charitable handouts: It would be steps to foster a fair, competitive business environment that enables our local and small businesses to remain open.
This is the right thing to do, as the merchants are part of what makes Harvard Square worth visiting. Without them, the place would be a much paler version of itself.