No fear, foodies: Friendly Toast, Grendel’s sworn to stay as they are, where they are
The Friendly Toast in Kendall Square and Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square face changes around them, but the two staple Cambridge eateries will remain the restaurants you’ve grown to love.
Kendall Square’s unique all-day breakfast joint, The Friendly Toast, and its original location in Portsmouth, N.H., sold Oct. 7 to Eric Goodwin and business partner Scott Pulver. The two hired Marcus Thompson, who has years of experience at such locations as The Barking Crab and Uno’s Chicago Grill, to run both locations.
“My partner Scott and I are fans of the Friendly Toast,” Goodwin said. “An iconic place like it doesn’t come around often, so we thought it would be a great investment.”
The eclectic brunch spot is known for it’s kitschy decor, amiable staff and huge pancakes and, despite being in Cambridge for only four years, has made its mark on local foodies. According to Goodwin, many fans of the restaurant reached out to the new owners panicking after Goodwin was reported as saying there would be menu changes and that “people will notice differences.”
On Saturday, Goodwin clarified what that meant. Asked if Toast fans would lose what they love, he replied with an “unequivocal no.”
Although they may add items over time, nothing customers are accustomed to seeing on the menu will disappear, he said.
“We bought the business and paid a lot of money for the business because we love it, so we don’t plan on changing,” Goodwin said. “We look to accentuate the positives and hope to grow, but the roots are going to stay.”
Goodwin is owner of Goodwin Hospitality & Associates, a Concord, N.H., secret-shopper business, and lives in New Hampshire. He lives driving distance from both Toast locations, while Pulver lives in Massachusetts. Goodwin hopes to expand the chain throughout the Northeast, but no specific locations have been discussed.
The Friendly Toast is at 1 Kendall Square, off Hampshire Street.
In Harvard Square, Grendel’s Den won’t be going anywhere despite a change in its building’s ownership. Grendel’s neighbor Upstairs on the Square has decided to close their doors, but Grendel’s owner Kari Kuelzer plans to stay.
Grendel’s has been in the square since 1971 and has a lot of history – including a 1982 trip to the Supreme Court by Harvard’s Lawrence Tribe in defense of Kuelzer’s parents, who got to keep their liquor license despite their proximity to a church. The precedent changed law in nine states, according the restaurant’s website.
Kuelzer still has a lease and doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon – in the late 1990s there were negotiations for a lease that would keep Grendel’s in place through 2017 – but has said she is sad to see Upstairs on the Square go.
Grendel’s is at 89 Winthrop St., Winthrop Square.