Restaurateur Bardy is back, asking: Is Harvard Square ready for Liberal Servings?
Harvard Square is already due to see The Sinclair, a late-night restaurant and 525-person concert hall, open in the fall. Now a smaller performance venue and restaurant called Liberal Servings is targeted for 13 Brattle St., the heart of the square.
Liberal Servings is set to be brought before the License Commission on April 3 by Jack Bardy, the entrepreneur who launched Pho Republique in Cambridge before moving across the river for a second Vietnamese restaurant and then a South End restaurant, club and art gallery called The Beehive. His Liberal Servings — and, unlike the four-partner Beehive, this would be Bardy’s alone — sounds just as eclectic and interesting as the South End hot spot:
Dancing, live and DJ’d music, “floor shows” and poetry readings are proposed, as well as a dining room with two bars (and televisions, of course), a private dining room and eight seasonal patio seats. Bardy is seeking 328 seats inside and standing for 32 people, according to the commission’s description. The Beehive, with Bardy as operating partner, was described as being a lounge, bar, jazz club, restaurant and art gallery, and the mix of functions could provide a clue as to Bardy’s thinking about Harvard Square.
“I really like casual local joints with simple food. I’m a restaurant junkie,” he said in a Foodservice East interview. “The customers can listen to the music, but there are areas in the restaurant where they can meet with friends and talk. It allows a kind of free-form kind of evening. Music can add a great vibe to a restaurant.”
He also described The Beehive as fairly inexpensive, “with a check average of $30 to $35 with drinks.”
Bardy is asking to close at 1 a.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and at 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
Its liquor license, if granted, comes in a somewhat convoluted fashion — from the long-shuttered Ristorante Marino, some three miles up Massachusetts Avenue in North Cambridge, to a second holder and then to Bourbon Coffee when it expected to open there. Instead, Bourbon Coffee opened in Porter Square at 1899 Massachusetts Ave. and, despite its name, has no need for beer, wine or even bourbon.
What isn’t totally clear is where Liberal Servings is going. The address given is 13 Brattle St., which puts it between The Gap (15 Brattle St.) and Origins (8 Brattle St.) — when the only thing between those is the Harvard Coop, which is technically at 18 Palmer St. Since Liberal Servings is described as being on at least two stories, it could be on floors above The Gap and the Coop. A survey map shows the address is part of the same structure stretching across the block to 50-52 Church St., where The Sinclair is going.
Neighbors of Harvard Square shuddered at the thought of 525-plus boozy concertgoers pouring out of The Sinclair and wandering around at 1 a.m. after shows, but commissioners weren’t swayed by their arguments and approved the plan in January.
While residents may be even more worried at adding more drunken revelers to the square, as well as cars, commissioners could be swayed again by the arguments made in favor of The Sinclair: Clubgoers are more dependent on public transportation, and Liberal Servings is between and within spitting distance of two entrances to the Harvard Square stop on the red line, as well as likely to be described as drawing neighbors who will walk to and from it. There is still likely to be a clash over the liquor license, though. A residents group describes it as having been:
nominally transferred twice to prospective tenants at the Massachusetts Avenue location who failed to exercised it or retain control of the premises — two reasons to question the validity of the permit, which arguably lapsed when the current licensee failed to make timely payment of the semiannual fee or request an extension of a six-month deadline to open for business in 2010.
The hearing is set for 6 p.m. April 3 in the basement conference room of the Michael J. Lombardi Municipal Building, 831 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.