Inman’s Hit Wicket aims to open in time for summer’s next key cricket matches
Hit Wicket, the Inman Square restaurant that may be the first with a cricket theme in the United States, is now looking at opening the second weekend in June after dealing with a series of inspection problems.
There were hopes of opening the week of May 20 in time for this past weekend’s Indian Premier League match. “We had lots of inquiries. People were ready to come in,” manager Nada Heredia told the commission Tuesday. “We’ve had the chef and bartender hired for some time now, and we’re itching to go.”
Hit Wicket is shaping up as a bar with three cricket-match-ready TVs and a 95-seat restaurant with five more screens, including one as large as 80 inches. The menu is to be primarily classic street food from countries where cricket is a dominant sport, including Australia, England and New Zealand; Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; South Africa; and the West Indies. Owner Shubha Ramesh Kumar has promised plenty of vegetarian fare with a meat menu by Stacy Blount.
Heredia and her team inherited a rented space at 1172 Cambridge St., the former Spice & Rice restaurant serving Asian fusion food. Between confusion over tenant and landlord responsibilities, recently changing inspection laws, construction snafus and the usual surprises restaurateurs encounter pre-opening, the restaurant has failed four city inspections, with the latest coming Tuesday morning.
Rules about ventilation in the kitchen changed between the closing of Spice & Rice in February and the most recent inspections, Fire Chief Gerald Reardon confirmed Tuesday with Heredia.
“We bought a pre-existing establishment. It was our understanding everything was up to code – they were running fully licensed,” Heredia said of Spice & Rice.
In addition to getting a ventilation hood properly cleaned, maintained and approved, there is a minor matter of fixing an outside light, then what Heredia and her team must hope will be a final inspection. On Tuesday she complained mildly to Reardon and fellow commissioner Police Chief Robert Haas that inspectors were still noting things that needed to be added to the fix-it list, with the outside beacon being mentioned for the first time that morning.
Meanwhile, after spending thousands on electrical and plumbing work – plumbing alone cost $45,000 – it was discovered only recently that systems that worked fine on their own didn’t work when used at the same time, Heredia said.
It was not clear when city inspectors would next visit, but Reardon said it seemed Hit Wicket was “near the finish line” on their concerns.
While the televisions at Hit Wicket will likely show other sports when cricket matches aren’t on, two key dates for the sport are fast approaching: June 6 is a Champions trophy match between International Cricket Council World Cup holders India and South Africa; and the first week in July brings the year’s Ashes Test matches between England and Australia.
The commission also:
Approved a name change for a Harvard Square brasserie that will include jazz and poetry. Once called Liberal Servings, the Brattle Street restaurant will now be known as Beat Hotel.
Put on file an April 7 incident at Middlesex Lounge, 315 Massachusetts Ave., near Central Square, where a couple asked to leave the Miracle of Science eatery went to the neighboring nightclub, not knowing it is under the same ownership. Management called police, but the situation got violent before officers arrived. The bouncer followed and the woman began filming him with a mobile phone. Unaware she was allowed to film him, the bouncer tried to take the phone – and the woman bit him. A testifying police sergeant said that while the woman technically could have been arrested for that, the lounge’s management and bouncers had to be aware that “the days of bouncers touching people in this city are gone.”
Added sidewalk dining to Pemberton Farms, 2225 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge. The gourmet grocer and deli has a few tables for sit-down dining in its greenhouse and porch, but now has permission for 20 more people to dine along the avenue. “We thought it would be a natural extension of our business,” manager Thomas Saidnawey said. “We have all that frontage there.”