Thursday, June 20, 2024

Manny Soares works May 5 at Fernandes Fish Market in Cambridge’s Inman Square. (Photo: Molly Farrar)

Fernandes Fish Market closes its doors June 24 after 28 years in Cambridge’s Inman Square surrounded by a vibrant Portuguese-speaking community.

Owner Manny Soares said the property owner at 1097 Cambridge St. terminated his lease a few months ago, but he has been able to stay by using monthly extensions. Soares, whose native language is Portuguese, called the closing disappointing but inevitable.

The building is in dire need of renovation, and owners at Cambridge 168 LLC said their goal is to bring the basement up to code. The building will be unsafe for tenants during this project, which starts in July, said the company’s Lin Xu.

“The goal of this renovation is to upgrade the plumbing, electrical and other essential systems that are outdated and inefficient,” Xu said. “To ensure that the remodel is comprehensive and safe, it is essential that we vacate the store before the start of the project.”

The owners of 1097 Cambridge St. say the building is getting an upgrade. (Photo: Molly Farrar)

History Cambridge, formerly the Cambridge Historical Society, said Inman Square has historically been home to Portuguese immigrants; in recent years, more Portuguese speakers  from Brazil have settled in the area. The market is across the street from the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers and near the Casa Portugal restaurant, Brazilian restaurant Muqueca and Brazilian coffee shop Bōm Dough.

The Portugalia restaurant, not far away at 723 Cambridge St. in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood, served its last meal April 30, according to a Facebook post from Portugal’s consulate in Boston. It had been open since 1983. Owner “Maria Valente has been present in the life of our community for many years,” the consul said. “Many thanks to Maria Valente and her family for the hospitality and dedication to Portuguese culture and gastronomy.”

Paulo Pinto, chief executive of the Alliance, said the closing of the Fernandes Fish Market was “unfortunate.”

“It is a sign of the times, unfortunately, that many ethnic small businesses are closing due to ever-rising costs and demographic changes,” Pinto said by email. “We hope that the younger generations will be able and willing to open new businesses and maintain the cultural and social events that have made East Cambridge a hub of Portuguese American culture in Massachusetts.”

While known for its fish, Fernandes Fish Market has also been a destination for staple Portuguese grocery items such as fresh olives and cheese.

This post was updated May 19, 2023, to correct the spelling of Fernandes Fish Market owner Manny Soares’ last name.