The attorney representing the replacement 24-hour market coming to Harvard Square stressed Wednesday that its operation would be virtually identical to Market in the Square, the business that was shut down Thursday when a sheriff seized its assets for unpaid rent.
Theories have been flying that the business coming to Harvard Square was associated with the national HelloFresh meal plan service – that it would take over other businesses within its 60 Church St. building for needed warehousing space, and do meal delivery affecting the feel of the street. But the new business is simply “picking up where Market in the Square left off,” attorney Sean Hope said.
As he said Nov. 1, “This will be the same continuing operation that was there as a market, and there’s going to be very little change in the premises,” meaning Harvard students and others will still have access to a 24-hour gourmet grocer with hot and cold salad bars and other prepared foods, as well as the same 20 seats for in-store dining.
The owner is a small businessman who runs a couple of similar grocery stores in New England, and is not associated with the meal-delivery company.
The problem arose from a License Commission error: Wholesome Fresh is not just the name of the company running the business, but of the business itself, Hope said. The appearance of “Hello Fresh” on a commission agenda was a mistake he tried to prevent. He’d been getting calls and emails from worried residents as a result.
The commission’s executive director, Elizabeth Lint, said Thursday that she didn’t know where the “Hello Fresh” name came from, but it is off the agency’s paperwork now.
Wholesome Fresh could open within a couple of weeks, leaving the former Market in the Square closed, papered over and branded with “seized” stickers for a little longer.
The original idea was for “a seamless transition,” Hope said, explaining that he’d asked the commission “why are you requiring us to vacate and have an empty storefront” instead of a business that kept the street activated.
But Wholesome Fresh fell afoul of a policy debate over whether there could be two common victualler licenses for the same address at the same time – one for the departed Market in the Square and one for the company taking over the space.
The License Commission said its policy dictated that Market in the Square’s license to serve food had to be canceled before Wholesome Fresh could start work, Hope explained. As of Thursday, Lint said the Market in the Square license was inactive and Wholesome Fresh could begin work.
This story was updated Nov. 9, 2017, with comment from the License Commission.