Businesses Well Lived: City Girl Café
Starting in 1997, City Girl Café welcomed hungry Cantabrigians with a cozy atmosphere where they could enjoy brunch and dinner or order catering. This restaurant offered a mouthwatering menu with an Italian flair.
“The government needs to help their local, small restaurants and other businesses. Too little is being done and Cambridge is going to be drastically affected by this.” – Small Business Owner Lauren Anderson, City Girl Café
Tell us the history of your business.
The original owners[, Merry Moscato and Cheryl Schwartz,] started the business in 1997. [They were alumni of The Saints Collective, a group of women who ran The Saints lesbian bar in downtown Boston in the 1970s and ’80s.] Later, we – Khavala Macken and Lauren Anderson – became employees of theirs and bought the business in 2008, when they wanted to retire.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
We saw a downturn before the March 15 shutdown. We actually decided to shut down a few days before it was announced as mandatory because we were worried about safety.
How does Cambridge change when small businesses close?
Every time a business has shut in Inman, it’s left a huge hole, especially with retail businesses. I’m happy that some retail has returned and that our longtime neighbors, like The Druid and The 1369, have been able to keep their doors open.
Describe what a “great day” at your business looked like before the COVID-19 pandemic.
We would usually see a wait list for many hours due to only having a capacity of 19. Our customers were always so patient about the wait.
What is the most vivid memory you have to share about your business through the pandemic?
Crying with Khavala in mid-March while telling our staff we had to close, and a day or two later being on the staff-receiving-end of the same conversation while also working at Mamaleh’s in Cambridge.
How do you want your business to be remembered?
Hanging out in your good friend’s living room for a dinner party.
What is something you want people in the future to know about your experience?
In my decades of working in the restaurant industry, I have never met a clientele base so special as the people who would frequent City Girl Café. It was a true pleasure to have them in my life.
Please include something you would like for us to share as a quote from you related to your experiences as a business owner through the pandemic.
The government needs to help their local, small restaurants and other businesses. Too little is being done, and Cambridge is going to be drastically affected by this.