Harvard Square Fast-Casual Chains Shutter, Relocate as Construction Starts

Say goodbye to Au Bon Pain and Clover (as you know them) tomorrow.

UPDATE, April 5, 1 p.m.: Clover has reopened at 1326 Mass. Ave.


Lunch time in Harvard Square is going to look pretty different in the coming days.

Landmark spot Au Bon Pain, with its expansive, umbrella-ed patio, shutters for good tomorrow. The Harvard Crimson blog Flyby broke the news, as Harvard University begins a large construction project. The Smith Campus Center renovation is slated for completion in 2018.

Yesterday, b. good on Dunster Street closed for good, also in anticipation of the two-year construction project, cofounder Jon Olinto told Eater Boston. Tonight, nearby Clover is hosting a goodbye party at its restaurant on Holyoke Street, and tomorrow’s its last day there.

Au Bon Pain’s croissants may not hold a candle to treats from spots like Flour Bakery in Kendall Square, or Brattle Square’s Crema Café (or Tatte Bakery, soon to open a block away on Mass. Ave.), but the quick-service spot was an institution for more than 30 years on the ground level of the Smith Campus Center. It was an inclusive meeting spot for all—and we mean everyone—to while away an afternoon playing a life-size game of chess, studying, or just people-watching. It’s even immortalized in Good Will Hunting, as Boston Restaurant Talk notes. The café is also open until 1 a.m., providing respite for college students and restaurant industry folks who might need a late-night jolt.

Au Bon Pain and b. good have both indicated they’re searching for alternate locations in Harvard Square. A pizzeria that was inside the campus center, Oggi Gourmet, has temporarily moved to the shuttered Finale location on Dunster Street, too.

Clover is renovating the former Yenching storefront as its new home; that longtime Chinese food take-out spot shuttered in December when its owners retired. The company is optimistically hoping for no break in service. “We’re going down to the wire on this one and are hoping to open HSQ2 on 4/1,” Clover communications director Lucia Jazayeri wrote on the company blog. (See update.)

In the meantime, say goodbye to its original restaurant tonight, along with Jack’s Abby representatives (and libations). Guests who register in advance for the free event get a copy of a “very subjective” book about Harvard Square that Jazayeri and Clover founder Ayr Muir are writing, she shared on the blog.