At Home with Harvard: Supporting Local Businesses

Our communities need us now more than ever. 

This is the sixth installment in Harvard Magazine’s series “At Home with Harvard,” a guide to what to read, watch, listen to, and do while social distancing. Read the prior pieces, featuring stories about Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, famous and not-so-famous Harvardians in the movies, Harvard’s literary scene, and more, here.

From our Harvard Squared print section to our online contents, local cuisine, retail, and culture is a staple of Harvard Magazine’s coverage. Local business owners and workers are also our neighbors—and while the last month-plus of social distancing has been devastating to the restaurants, shops, and venues that depend on our support every day, it’s also made clear how critical these institutions are to the fabric of daily life. Below, find just a fraction of our extensive coverage of local businesses, and ideas from our staff about how you can support them and other neighbors in need during this time of crisis. 


Sweet Science,” Our feature on Joanne Chang ’91, founder of local chain Flour Bakery, from the March-April 2008 issue, is a time-capsule of sorts—her empire was just getting started. Learn about how this Harvard alum went from management consulting to becoming a food icon.

I remember when I first tried Joanne Chang’s Sticky Buns at Flour Bakery. The dough is buttery yet fluffy, melting in your mouth along with the richly flavored, slightly smoky caramel. The pecans add a wonderful textural contrast. Now you can make the recipe at home using our video and article.

~Kristina DeMichele, Digital Content Strategist

Sean Staples, Hazel Royer, and Eric Royer perform
Photograph courtesy of Atwood’s Tavern

I’ve never been much of a food writer, but this spring I was thrilled to be able to cover Atwood’s Tavern, one of the only bars in Greater Boston devoted to bluegrass and American roots music. Atwood’s offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience, the type of intimate, infectious musical performance that’s been lost in the last month of pandemic lockdown. I’ll claim a front-row seat the moment it re-opens. 

The casual Map Room Tea Lounge offers “bar bites,” like the charcuterie board and tartines
Photograph by Binita Patel

Everyone has pre-quarantine regrets—the things we wish we had done before social distancing made it impossible—and one of mine is not having experienced the Boston Public Library’s Map Room Tea Lounge, the delightful bar/café where you can enjoy tea, drinks, and light fare with a library book. “The place is comfortable and theatrical, as if you’re drinking and dining on a stage set,” writes Harvard Magazine assistant editor Nell Porter Brown. Even while shut in at home, reading her story is almost as good as being there. 

I love every one of these local vegetarian and vegan restaurants reviewed by Nell Porter Brown a few years ago. Many of them are still offering takeout and delivery, from the life-changingly good Asian-fusion restaurant Grasshopper to the upscale, innovative True Bistro. One place that didn’t make our lineup is Veggie Crust, a legendary pizza shop with the best house-made vegan cheese I’ve ever tried; it’s been my staple throughout quarantine. 

Tatte Bakery’s pastry counter

For more of our local business and restaurant content, check out stories like “72 Hours in Harvard Square,” a guide to food and shopping in normally bustling Harvard Square (many businesses still offer gift cards). In “A Culinary Tour of the New Smith Campus Center,” find a roundup of the fast, affordable, and even healthy food offerings in the lively campus center at the heart of Harvard Square, for when University life begins anew. 

View our vast past coverage of local cuisine, retail, and attractions in Harvard Squared

~Marina Bolotnikova, Associate Editor

Saloniki’s new Harvard Square location offers ample seating space and a full-service bar.
Photograph by Ken Rivard

Recommendations from Our Staff 

Local Fundraisers  

Flour Bakery, although closed to the public, has set up a platform for you to purchase meals to feed healthcare workers at Mass General Hospital and Boston Medical Center. 

Himmel Hospitality Group (which owns the restaurants Harvest, Post 390, Bistro du Midi, and Grill 23 & Bar) is donating 50 percent of each gift card purchase to its staff relief fund, which will be donated to its hourly employees who are going without pay. 

Restaurants Trade, Porto, and Saloniki have partnered with Off Their Plate and World Central Kitchen to raise money to provide meals to Boston’s front-line healthcare workers and displaced restaurant employees. 


Resources to Support You

The Catered Affair is offering family meal pickups at their various Greater Boston locations.

The Harvard Square Business Association has put together a list of online activities offered by local businesses. 

The Friday Café at the First Church in Cambridge hands out bagged lunches to homeless neighbors on Friday afternoons. Local restaurants donate, and families from Cambridge make bagged lunches to drop off as well. Volunteers are welcome. 

Eater Boston has put together a Boston-area grocery guide for safe shopping and delivery services. And when you don’t feel like cooking, here’s their guide on where to order the best delivery and takeout in the area.

Somerville-based Forge Baking Company is providing delivery of produce, pantry and household items, and prepared foods. Try their signature fresh bread or ready-to-bake pizza dough. 

Near the Alewife Fresh Pond shopping center in Cambridge, the much-beloved and customer service-oriented Bonny’s Garden Center remains open for your spring/summer gardening needs. 

The Cambridge Quilt Shop is open to support home projects and projects for neighbors and others in need. Sewing, quilting, and crafting all provide creative outlet during this time of stress.


More from At Home with Harvard”

  • Spring Blooms: Your guide to accessing the Arnold Arboretum as the seasons turn in Boston
  • Harvard in the Movies: Our favorite stories about Harvardians on screen
  • The Literary Life: Our best stories about the practice and study of literature 
  • Night at the Museum: Our coverage of Harvard’s rich museums and collections
  • Nature Walks: Walking, running, and biking in Greater Boston’s green spaces, even while social distancing

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