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December 3rd, 2004


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12:39 am - Gone
This post may be depressing to some ex-Bostonians and quite a few current ones, too.

Casa de Mexico in Harvard Square is gone. It was a little hole-in-the-basement placed that served any Mexican dish you wanted, provided you wanted something smothered in lots and lots of cheese. It also served the most delicious Mexican coffee, flavored improbably with chamomile, cinnamon and chocolate. In its place is a minimalist-looking trendoid presumably expensive Indian restaurant which fails to capture any of the ambience or character Casa de Mexico had in that basement location. They took off all the wall tiles. I won't eat there.

Wordsworth, also in Harvard Square, is gone. A venerable two-story bookstore now replaced by ... er, a boutique on top and I don't know what yet on the bottom. I loved Wordsworth's and will not listen when people tell me to just go to the Harvard Bookstore instead. All the books I bought in the past year, with the exception of some Amazon special orders and my sci-fi and fantasy which I get from Pandemoniums, I bought from Wordsworth's. Along with Bartley's, Wordsworth's was the foundation of my Burger An' A Book Tuesdays over the summer.

Mr. Crepe in Davis Square is gone. I found this out the hard way after a Murder rehearsal. The pasta place next door, which I believe owned both spaces, decided to expand into that area and so they pushed Mr. Crepe out. When last I went by, there was a smug sign on the window that said something like "Yes! We're expanding!" which just rubbed the salt deeper into the wounds of those Mr. Crepe fans among us.

And now the White Hen on Mass. Ave and Day Street is gone. "Lost our lease December 1," reads a sign on the door. "Thanks to all our loyal customers for 15 years of business." This was the only 24-hour place around Davis Square, and when I lived on Rice Street I was always glad to have it around so I could stumble in at any hour of the night and at any level of sobriety. I once saw the owner, a little fellow, hold his own against three shoplifters -- two who'd done it intentionally to distract him from the third, who was trying to lift free scratch tickets. He kicked 'em all out of the store and said "Never come back. Never come back." I admired the dude. Now I'm closer to the Porter Square White Hen, yes, and I certainly hope it keeps its lease, but the Davis Square one was a necessity and now it's gone. I shudder to think of the gentrified crap that'll inevitably spawn in its place. Lord knows that stretch of Mass Ave needs another trendy, here-today-gone-tomorrow boutique or cafe.

What hurt the most is not the fact that I took all four establishments for granted, because that's always what happens. Part of the healing process, I guess, is that twinge of guilt. But it's not like I could've done anything to save a business. I admit I hadn't been to that White Hen since early last summer, when I wandered back over from Jamin's place after a Philip Glass rehearsal, and I only decided to go to the Mr. Crepe a few weeks back because "Hey, I haven't been there in a long time." But is the onus really on me and my $5 every now and then? Honestly, no.

What hurts the most is the sting of loss, sharp and intense, that accompanied the news of each demise. It's the realization that yes, there is now a "last time" you visited that place and no, you didn't get to choose it. I didn't get to say goodbye to Mr. Crepe or to the White Hen. (I did go into Wordsworth's for One Last Time before they closed, but by then the place had nearly been picked clean.) I guess the goodbyes don't really matter as much as the fact that four good friends are gone from the Boston area and we're all the worse for it.

So it goes.

(22 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:aussie_nyc
Date:December 3rd, 2004 10:10 am (UTC)
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Every time I look at the bookshelves here I remember Avenue Victor Hugo is gone, too.
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From:ivorjawa
Date:December 3rd, 2004 02:35 pm (UTC)
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Shit.
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From:ivorjawa
Date:December 3rd, 2004 02:36 pm (UTC)
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WHAT???

Shit. I really miss the rum menu.
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From:androidqueen
Date:December 3rd, 2004 03:51 pm (UTC)
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i remember . . . it made me sad. i loved the plantains. mmmm, plantains . . .

looks like they're putting something swanky in.
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From:androidqueen
Date:December 3rd, 2004 04:13 pm (UTC)
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oh, yes. by swanky, i mean metrosexual, and probably the kind of place that doesn't want my type around. :)
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From:derspatchel
Date:December 3rd, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC)
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If I say "me too" does that mean we get to join a new club?
From:dcart
Date:December 6th, 2004 11:05 pm (UTC)
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Okay, this is officially the saddest goddamn livejournal post ever. Most of these are the kind of places that are supposed to stay open forever, so when people who went to college in the area or whatever come back, they can visit and wax nostalgic. Argh.
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From:androidqueen
Date:December 3rd, 2004 02:00 pm (UTC)
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wordsworth is gone!!!!???? oh, cry (though i do love the harvard bookstore too)

when did victor hugo go? i feel like i was just there a few months ago . . .

i know how you feel wrt the guilt too . . .
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From:gilana
Date:December 3rd, 2004 02:20 pm (UTC)
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I know. It's all really sad. Harvard Square is a ghost of its former self, and the sad thing is, the new college kids will never know it as it was.
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From:ivorjawa
Date:December 3rd, 2004 02:35 pm (UTC)
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Shit.
Shit.
Shit.
Shit.
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From:marphod
Date:December 3rd, 2004 02:57 pm (UTC)
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As a note, Casa de Mexico had a sign up saying that the closing was voluntary. After a long number of years, the owners decided they wanted to stop. Sad, but at least it was their choice.

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From:rigel
Date:December 3rd, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC)
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Another note: The Mr. Crepe thing wasn't as nasty as I read this to sound. It was actually supposed to close much sooner, and I think the pasta place gave them more time. They were on friendly terms with each other.

I would imagine that chillguru would know more about this, since he actually worked there. But yeah, I think there was a little less "The Man"ness going on here than it might have looked like.

Still, I'm say it's gone.

And, WTF, the White Hen?! It was the only 24-hour place! Grr.
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From:rigel
Date:December 3rd, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC)
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Sad to say. Yes. Because I can type good English. ;)
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From:derspatchel
Date:December 3rd, 2004 10:06 pm (UTC)
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Well, that's good that the Mr. Crepe closing wasn't as acrimonious as I had feared. It's a small consolation in this collection of big comiserations.
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From:tcb
Date:December 3rd, 2004 04:10 pm (UTC)
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suck.

Casa de Mexico was one of the few places that actually made a decent mole sauce.

Wordsworth was one of the better places you could go into and walk up to the counter and say, "I'm looking for a book.." and describe everything about it in terms of plot, but not know the name or author, and someone would know what it was.

Mr. Crepe was a fun place to walk to in the summer and sit outside and have a crepe. damn.

Can't say I went into that particular White Hen much :) now, the one right in Porter Sq on the other hand..

*sigh*

and then there are all of the other "used to be" places.. like the Tasty, the Delihaus, Cottonwood Cafe, Jae's downtown, Grendel's Den, Johnny's Luncheonette..
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From:nathanw
Date:December 3rd, 2004 04:54 pm (UTC)
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The Cottonwood Cafe in Porter? That was a very short-lived expansion of the restaurant, which is still in what I believe is its original location downtown, at Berkeley and St. James. Not at all in the same league of an institution whose passing to mourn.
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From:tcb
Date:December 3rd, 2004 04:57 pm (UTC)
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regardless, it was a fond place to go for Margaritas from time to time, that is no more..
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From:androidqueen
Date:December 3rd, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC)
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deli haus . . . . :)

and don't forget buzzy's
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From:terras
Date:December 3rd, 2004 09:43 pm (UTC)
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I went into Wordsworth's when everything was 40% off with my $50 gift card, which netted me a nice set of books. I think it was really nice of them to continue to honor a gift card, even though they probably needed the money more than I needed the books.

The boutique in the Wordsworth building has been there for a couple of years. I believe it was an earlier attempt to stave off bankruptcy, thanks to Bark & Grovel taking over the Coop management.

Up in the vicinity of the White Hen, developers are trying to replace the Jiffy Lube (or similar) with a Dunkies, but neighbors are complaining about increasing traffic on Mass Ave. I swear, the NIMBYs in Cambridge have progressed from NIMBYism into BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything).
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From:terras
Date:December 3rd, 2004 10:49 pm (UTC)
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It's not always the case when a company goes out of business, but I believe it's more a function of in-house vs. outsourced liquidation. I know that some going-out-business sales have fine print that state something about no gift cards or discounts above and beyond the aformentioned we're dead discount.
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From:zorndeslammes
Date:December 3rd, 2004 11:51 pm (UTC)

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I feel ya. I posted many a month back about the loss of CT's club scene. I can't even imagine going to New London knowing that the El isn't there anymore. As long as Fenway stands though, I can feel okay.
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From:aralia_17
Date:December 5th, 2004 04:01 am (UTC)
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Please email or IM me. sorry i have to be so mysterious. you'll understand why when i reply.

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