Yenching Restaurant Has Closed After 40 Years

Love it or hate it, the restaurant was a Harvard Square institution.


Yenching Restaurant in Harvard Square. / Photo provided by the Cambridge Office of Tourism

A Szechuan-style Chinese eatery in a prime Cambridge location closed its doors on Sunday, the Harvard Crimson reported.

A sign on the door of Yenching Restaurant reads, “It has been a great pleasure serving you. Thank you not only for your patronage but also your friendship.” When the Crimson reporters went by on Sunday evening, the employees inside the shop declined to comment on the closure, and the restaurant’s phone line has been disconnected. It does not have an official web presence.

According to the Crimson, Yenching opened its doors on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Holyoke Street on November 26, 1975. The restaurant was never a member of the Harvard Square Business Association, so executive director Denise Jillson doesn’t know for sure, but she believes the closure is the family-owned business’ personal choice.

“It is my understanding that the owner wanted to retire after many years of having a very good business in Harvard Square,” she said. “The location is prime, so we’re excited to welcome a new business there, and we look forward to knowing who that would be.”

Jillson noted the Association is bittersweetly celebrating longtime tailor Joe Rizzo’s retirement; he closed his Harvard Square shop last week, the Boston Globe reported.

“The only thing we can count on is change,” Jillson said. “It’s bound to happen. We have businesses here for 30, 40 years; it’s a long time to be in business. If the children or grandchildren don’t want to continue the business, it’s inevitable that they will be sold or close.”

Yenching was popular among Harvard students and professors, according to the Crimson—but it wasn’t very popular among Yelp reviewers. It offered a long list of Chinese-American favorites like Peking ravioli, kung pao chicken, beef and broccoli, hot and sour soup, and much more.