Original Darwin’s is closing in Harvard Square, declining to renew at the end of a 30-year lease
The Darwin’s Ltd. location in Harvard Square is closing after 29 years in business, and a note from the founders imply that the coffee shop will have new owners. A worker reached at another Darwin’s location said the closing was expected to happen by Dec. 1, but knew nothing of the shop continuing under different ownership and expected it to be “completely gone.” (Update on Nov. 29, 2022: A sign has been posted in the Darwin’s window in Harvard Square for a business called “Roust Coffee.”)
The location posted a sign on its door Wednesday and on social media to explain that the 148 Mount Auburn St. spot was at the end of its 30-year lease and wouldn’t be renewing. The note was signed by founders Steven and Isabel Darwin.
“We honestly believe the new owners will make their place as special as Darwin’s. We hope the community will welcome them as we were welcomed in 1993,” the Darwins said in the note. Mount Auburn was the original shop, from which the small chain grew to add three throughout Cambridge.
An email was sent to Steve Darwin on Wednesday asking for more information. Calls to the Harvard Square location weren’t answered.
Referring to the end of the lease, the note says the Darwins “carefully considered this milestone to be an opportunity for ownership to take workload and personal health into account, and we thank everyone for their understanding in that regard.”
“We are forever grateful to have had the loyal support of our neighbors, customers and the many staff members who have enjoyed our offerings or given their hard work in this special sandwich shop and cafe on the corner,” the Darwins said.
Workers at the site had raised concerns recently about a shutdown, calling it an effort by the Darwins to union bust; the small Darwin’s chain was part of a wave of coffee shop organizing this year.
The Darwins seemed to acknowledge the conflict in their message.
“We also understand this is unexpected news for everyone and we truly regret any hardship this decision may cause you. We will work in good faith with the union to retain as many staff members as are willing and/or to offer appropriate severance pay to those being laid off,” the note says. The note urges continued support for “Darwin’s ownership and its staff” at the remaining locations: 1629 Cambridge St., Mid-Cambridge, 313 Massachusetts Ave., The Port, and or 31 Putnam Ave., Riverside.
When does build back better start? Ugh
“Workers at the site had raised concerns recently about a shutdown, calling it an effort by the Darwins to union bust; the small Darwin’s chain was part of a wave of coffee shop organizing this year.”
That says it all. Workers deserve better treatment and store owners are unwilling to negotiate fair treatment with them so rather than do so and face a smaller long term profit margin but happy employees they have decided to take the money and run.
No sympathy here for the owners of the chain.
Great – so now the workers will be unemployed. The business after 30yrs will be gone, the neighborhood loses an institution and add another vacant commercial property to the list. Amazing
A sad day for locals, employees, and creative minds
As a business owner I know it’s difficult to juggle quality of product and expand with employees who help you execute things to your standard. I’m sad to see Darwin’s Ltd close with what feels like such short notice…feels pretty shocking…no way around it. Hopefully, the building doesn’t evolve into a pharmaceutical lab. Pretty sure there are enough of those around here. People still got to eat ¯\_(ツ)_/¯