Harvard Square gets a sushi jazz brunch, but Taqueria must work for margaritas
Two Harvard Square area restaurants with claims of difficult locations are looking to add features to help keep up in Cambridge’s competitive dining scene, with O Sushi asking the License Commission on Tuesday to allow live music and Cancun Taqueria asking to serve margaritas.
O Sushi is at 1 Eliot St., which a few months ago was Conga, a tapas restaurant. Cancun Taqueria Y Mas, at 1105 Massachusetts Ave., is below ground level on the outskirts of the square in a storefront that housed Lamole until last spring.
Cancun Taqueria’s request to serve alcoholic beverages was deferred to Dec. 5 to allow the owners time to submit more evidence.
Owner and manager Areli Sahagun said the liquor license would greatly increase business.
“We originally meant to be a fast-food restaurant, but our clients started requesting full-order meals,” Sahagun said. “And now many customers are requesting margaritas with their Mexican food.”
Cancun Taqueria has received great reviews from local customers, Yelp and The Boston Globe, but everyone agrees that there could be more – a margarita, cerveza or michelada.
According to Cambridge licensing laws, though, a business’ needs aren’t a factor in the commission’s decision. Sahagun needs to exhibit three conditions to get a liquor license: an argument that another license is needed in the area; that the license won’t harm the area; and overwhelming neighborhood support.
“You need to go back to the community and demonstrate support,” Police Commissioner Robert Haas told Sahagun and her brother, Felix Santana, after they presented their case. A community petition could do the trick, Haas said.
A few Cambridge residents voiced their support during public comment, including Harvard Square Business Association Executive Director Denise Jillson. “The location has a lot of competition and they’re tucked away, so they need something to offer,” Jillson said. “Without a full complement, I don’t see how they’re going to compete.”
Jillson also supported the commission’s approval of O Sushi Restaurant and Bar’s request to amend its entertainment license to allow amplified live music and a DJ. The restaurant’s reputation is growing every week, Jillson said.
In arguing for the entertainment license, though, attorney Sean Hope sounded a familiar theme.
“O Sushi has been open for six months in a challenging location,” Hope said. “We want to add entertainment to compete with other restaurants.”
O Sushi’s entertainment will include a three-piece live jazz band for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a DJ in the evenings. According to Hope, there will be no dancing or cover charge, since the restaurant wants to avoid any type of “club” atmosphere.
“We think by playing the right music, we’ll have our customers stay longer,” said Christopher Muller, a part owner of O Sushi.
The commission approved the request, but highlighted Cambridge’ noise ordinances before doing so.
Wine and cider at winter market
Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod will once again be a vendor at the Cambridge Winter Farmers’ Market, alongside first-year vendor Carr’s Ciderhouse. The commission approved both applicants to operate at the farmers market taking place Saturdays from Jan. 4 to April 26 in the gymnasium of the Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St.
This will be Truro Vineyards’ second year at the market selling their wine and offering samples of their products. “Cambridge was very successful last year,” said Andy Lisle, an assistant winemaker. “We loved it and want to do it again.”
Carr’s Ciderhouse, a small company out of Hadley, also sees farmers markets as a way to enter the Cambridge market, co-owner Nicole Blum said. “We don’t have anything stocked [in stores] this far east yet, so people purchasing the cider or other apple products at the farmers’ market is our major point of sale,” she said.