Sunday, June 16, 2024

A barista at Darwin’s Ltd. coffeeshop in The Port neighborhood of Cambridge on June 3, 2022. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The last of four sites that made up the old Darwin’s Ltd. coffeeshop chain is set to be filled, and with a name that’s familiar to the MIT community, or to anyone who’s walked across the Harvard Bridge since 1958: Smoot.

The Smoot Standard won its licensing Tuesday for 313 Massachusetts Ave. in The Port between Central Square and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Oliver Smoot attended until graduating in 1962. As a first-year frat pledge, he was was laid down repeatedly along the length of the bridge, with paint being used along the way to mark off every 5-foot-7 of his height. (The bridge is roughly 364.4 smoots.) The measurements are repainted twice yearly; the term made it into the American Heritage Dictionary in 2011.

“It’s an interesting reference,” said Patrick Conte, lawyer for Alex Tannenbaum, whose other businesses in Cambridge are the nearby Naco Taco and the chicken restaurant Lily P’s in Kendall Square.

The new business will be open to 1 a.m. daily – a cafe during the morning and afternoon and more traditional restaurant atmosphere at night, with occasional album listening events, Conte said. The total occupancy of around 100 includes a patio.

The original Darwin’s closed in November 2022 after 30 years at 148 Mount Auburn St. and became Roust Coffee the next January, and is now set to become the Luxor Cafe.

The business’ other three locations throughout Cambridge closed in December 2022. But by mid-2023 the Asaro Bakery and Café won License Commission approval to take over 1629 Cambridge St., Mid-Cambridge, and so did the Circus Cooperative Cafe for the 31 Putnam Ave., Riverside, location.

That left just The Port location unfilled, until now.

In addition to the Darwin’s crowd waiting for a refill, “there’s also growing demand in the area due to recent construction. The Ragon building’s new home was just constructed one block away, and will be adding hundreds of jobs and hundreds of hungry employees,” Conte said, referring to the labs of The Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT and Harvard.

Ricen in Porter Square

In other restaurant news, Ricen has taken a step to add beer and wine to its Thai food menu when it opens at 1906 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge, filling a space empty for four years since the sudden shutdown of Rod Dee Thai. The operator is Panupak Kraiwong, who opened Dakzen near Somerville’s Davis Square in 2018 and has since managed Fuji in Assembly Square and opened two restaurants in Boston’s Seaport. The space has 2,800 square feet and space for 60 and intends to be open until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 1 p.m. on weekends.
a.m. Friday and Saturday