Harvard’s Crimson Corner Will Shutter to Make Room for More Pizza

The chain &pizza will bring Harvard Square's pie shop count into double digits.

The chainification of Harvard Square continues: &pizza, a Washington, D.C., based “tribe” of pie shops plans to open in Cambridge, taking over the staple Crimson Corner store and the former Tory Row space, Cambridge Day reports.

The chain has 19 locations around greater D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and more on the way, including in New York City, thanks to a recent $25 million investment. &pizza offers rectangular, personal pizzas, made-to-order via a conveyor belt system.

The startup, founded in 2012 by Michael Lastoria, is progressive: In addition to sourcing organic doughs and non-GMO produce, it also aims to incorporate local products into its ever-changing offerings. Some of the standard styles include the Farmer’s Daughter, with spicy tomato, spinach, mozzarella, Italian sausage, egg, Parmesan, and hot sauce; and a dessert ’za called Lori Lane, with white chocolate sauce, berries, sweet ricotta, and agave syrup.

The menu has ample vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Lastoria is also a vocal proponent of the $15 minimum wage. Oh, and &pizza encourages employees and regulars to get tattoos of its ampersand logo.

Apparently, &pizza is well-regarded, boasting numerous Best Of awards from the Washington City Paper, Washington Post Express, and others. In addition to the pies, the company makes craft sodas in flavors like pear and fig “elixir,” and burdock and anise root beer, and a line of teas called &tea. Some locations offer beer and wine.

Crimson Corner, the overflowing newsstand and gift shop where Mass. Ave. meets Brattle Street and JFK, has been in owner Chris Kotelly’s family for 54 years. (It was previously called Nini’s Corner.) The Day reports Kotelly is losing his lease in favor of the pizza chain. Tory Row shuttered in October.

The Cambridge Day’s long read dives into the multitude of changes that have happened in the iconic square in the past few years, and the many more on the way. Those include a potential expansion of the speciality shop Salt & Olives, the anticipated closure of Pinkberry in favor of another Pressed Juicery, and a few unknowns, like the future of the Out of Town News kiosk and the unique Curious George store.

Sweet Pizza, with locations in Wilmington and Beverly, is hoping to move into a space at 56 JFK St., too, after securing zoning approval last month. The new pizzerias will join Pinocchio’s, Otto, the Just Crust, Cambridge 1, Oggi Gourmet, Angelo’s, Mona Lisa, and a Domino’s—not to mention Russell House Tavern’s pies, Michael Scelfo’s pizzas at Waypoint, and Joanne Chang’s baked delights at Flour.

&pizza still has a few regulatory hurdles to cross before the deal is done, including an appearance before the Cambridge Historical Commission about its potential design, slated for tonight. At this point, there’s no timeline for &pizza to open. Next Thursday, the Cambridge Zoning Board will look at its plans, as well as Salt & Olive’s desire to take over an adjacent storefront at 1158 Mass. Ave., the Day reports.

&pizza, looking to open at 1394 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard Square, Cambridge, andpizza.com.