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The Tasty

Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 5, 2013 01:15 AM

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The TastyStephen Niccolls.jpg
                                                    Photo by Stephen Niccolls

                                                              Funky Square  

     Harvard Square has long been a durable destination with a variety of coffeehouses, bars, diners, boutiques and music venues, as well as being home to new and used book and record shops. Its noteriety grew in the later 60's as hippies, hustlers and happenings became part of the Square's milieu, and street culture spread around the area.

     Through the years, old-timers have always insisted that the Harvard Square of their day was the way it was truly meant to be. "You should have seen Harvard Square when it was a square," goes the gist of the Boomer thesis. "Today it's a corporate wasteland. It was how it was supposed be back in the 60's and 70's, back in MY day!"

      “Beginning in 1968,” Mo Lotman wrote in his 2009 book, Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950, “the Common was transformed every warm Sunday afternoon into a bohemian free-for-all, with drum circles, bead-sellers, tranced-out dancers, and a ton of pot.”

                                                              Perfect Square

     Boomers love to tell tall tales of the legendary locales of yesteryear: The Idler, the Oxford Ale House, daily double bills for a dollar at the Harvard Square Theatre, foreign films at the Galeria Theater, cool used clothes at the Pennsylvania Company, The Blue Parrot, Bailey’s Ice Cream, sandwiches at Elsie’s. And of course, the venerable Tasty, taken in 1997, turned into an Abercrombie & Fitch, and to this day peeves off many a Square vet. A perfect symbol, many say, of the perils of gentrification.

     The Tasty was a one-room diner estimated to be 30 feet long and seven feet wide. Customers ate burgers and dogs on a yellow linoleum counter. With 16 stools, The Tasty on busy nights  would be stuffed with 60-80 people at a time. On these nights between 300–400 burgers and doggies were served between the hours of midnight and 4am. Its informal atmosphere and friendly staff drew in long-time residents, college students and working people and became one of the few places where locals and visitors from different social and economic classes easily mixed.

                                                          Corporate Square

     Cambridge Savings Bank, the building's owner, eventually saw green as the chain store crawl moved quickly into Harvard Square. Higher rents and changing times forced The Tasty's hand and despite protests from the Harvard Square Defense Fund along with Click and Clack, the guys who host Car Talk on NPR, The Tasty shut it's door for good in 1997. Gone was a joint where you could fill up for cheap. In its place today sits a row of ATM's.

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Ciao for Now.....JB

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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