Thursday, June 13, 2024

Customer Ameris Davis enjoys a Ripple Café drink at the Dorchester location. (Photo: Ripple Café via Facebook)

More music is coming to Kendall Square with approval Tuesday of a Ripple Café location at 314 Main St., a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology building at the entrance to an MBTA red line headhouse.

The Cambridge square known for its life-sciences and tech innovation has taken strides toward adding homes, restaurants and other services, but beyond a nine-screen cinema it’s not known for its entertainment. Ripple Cafe plans to bring in four or more performers one night a week, manager Gaelle Ducheine told Cambridge license commissioners. Permission was also granted for a DJ and background music. Poetry nights were also mentioned.

The square is still awaiting the reopening of Flat Top Johnny’s, a pool hall that the commission approved in May for a 5,430-square-foot space in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology building at 238 Main St. It closed at a nearby location Aug. 14, 2020, ending a 27-year run because of Covid pandemic restrictions.

A 24-hour pingpong space is also planned, said Beth O”Neill Maloney, executive director of the Kendall Square Association.

With summertime concerts and the darts and live bluegrass music at Lily P’s restaurant on Thursdays, O’Neill defended Kendall against the idea that it’s an entertainment desert. Still, she said, “We’re very excited that Ripple Café will add to the mix.”

The operators of Ripple “just would like to bring some live music to that neighborhood, and in a good way – so not too loud,” Ducheine said. Similar to Lily P’s, the Ripple programming would be “probably once a week.”

The owner, James Guerrier, is a Berklee College of Music grad, Ducheine noted, while she has an interest in interior design and refreshes the existing Ripple Café – opened in Dorchester by Ashmont Station in 2019 – on a roughly quarterly basis.

“Essentially, it’s just a third space that provides beautiful imagery, decor and a little bit of Caribbean components to the menu,” said Ducheine, who, like Guerrier, is Haitian. She pointed to The Spicy Dejeneur, a breakfast sandwich of egg seasoned and cooked with sausage links, bell peppers and a hot relish that’s served on potato bread to add a touch of sweetness.

The 2,874-square-foot site is “99 percent done with construction” and ready to be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. all days, with occupancy for nearly 90 people indoors and another 47 on a patio. A request to add beer, wine and cordials may come later, Ducheine said.

The coming of Ripple Cafe is part of the work done during the remaking of land in the heart of Kendall known as the Volpe site after the resident federal transportation agency that decided to modernize and downsize, selling much of its land to MIT for development.

“We engaged in an extensive community process during the planning of Volpe which led us to meet a number of local Bipoc retailers,” said Anthony Galluccio, a lawyer who worked on the project and presented Ripple Café to the commission, using a term for black, indigenous and people of color. “Those relationships have been helpful in getting us acquainted with folks in the area that we think can bring an independent and a little more of an eclectic feel to the retail spaces here.”

Also approved Tuesday by the commission was Chilacates, a Mexican street food eatery, at 561 Cambridge St., East Cambridge, where it would fill space once used by the East Side Bar & Grille. Chilacates has 10 locations around Boston. The 1,758-square-foot space with room for 30 was approved to be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.