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Eating and Shopping in Cambridge

With shoppers from around the world, Harvard Square offers a potpourri of noteworthy spots to eat and shop.

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Judy deMont owner of Marimekko in Huron Village
With shoppers from around the world, Harvard Square offers a potpourri of noteworthy spots to eat and shop. Here are a few.

Curated by The Tannery: This specialty retailer opened in 2007, but its mix of contemporary labels got even stronger with the addition of women’s buyer Brittany Rothweiler. She’s brought in more clean-lined, feminine labels like Shipley & Halmos, Cloak & Dagger and Lorick (the line used as “Gossip Girls” character Eleanor Waldorf’s own label).

Tarek Hassan, co-owner with uncle Sam Hassan, used industry leverage to score exclusives like the Jeffrey Kalinsky-Sperry Top-Sider collaboration that produced neon Top-Siders. Rothweiler says the store draws students not just from Harvard and MIT, but from throughout the metropolitan area. Average transactions are $200 to $300.

“Being surrounded by colleges and in the heart of Harvard Square means students are a constant flow,” said Hassan. “The area also draws an international student population. To them, America is ‘on sale,’ which drives a lot of business.” The store gives students with valid ID 10 percent off denim purchases.

Dresses are also a backbone of the business. “Dresses are huge,” said Rothweiler. “There are formals all the time.”

Marimekko: Touring Finland in the late Sixties, architect Ben Thompson fell in love with Marimekko designs and brought them to sell at Design Research Headquarters, an iconic glass-and-steel furnishings store he designed in Harvard Square. The bright, childlike designs — different from the era’s stodgy florals — were a huge hit with students.

Forty years later, Cambridge merchants Jonathan and Judy deMont discovered Baby Boomers still hold a torch for Marimekko. With the blessing of Marimekko brass, she opened the first U.S. concept store in Huron Village, following the design company’s specs about color science and lighting. Fabric by the yard has taken off, said deMont. “We’re getting calls from New York designers wanting to order,” she confirmed. The fashion, with its distinctive layering of tonal prints, is also going strong.

With so many students stuffed into Cambridge, sandwich joints also stand out. A few to bite into are:

• High-Rise Bakery: With two Cambridge outposts, it offers sandwiches named for an odd cast of regulars. Whether they know the story or not, customers order Bill’s Seoul Show (grilled chicken, bacon and tarragon mayo on corn bread).

• Darwin’s Ltd.: The retro Busch beer sign out front and sammies with street names (like the chicken-pesto Fayerweather) make it a Harvard student fave.

• Formaggio Kitchen: Located in Huron Village, this foodie’s paradise (umpteen kinds of honey, a cheese cave) often sells out of sandwiches before the afternoon ends.

• All Star Sandwich Bar: Fittingly named, this Inman Square spot sports a glass jar of help-yourself Oreos on the counter, crispy fries (offered poutine, with gravy and cheese curd, Canadian style) and sandwich specials like “funky” (pork loin with peach salsa) and “extra funky” (grilled chicken topped with jack cheese creamed spinach).
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