Compiled by Deb Mandel, 2022
1916 – 1997
2a JFK St., Harvard Square
The 24-hour/day Tasty Sandwich Shop, a beloved character in the heart of Harvard Square, was located in the demolished Read Block building, former site of Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet’s home. The Tasty was a no-frills, 300 square foot, 12-seat diner, where in 1996 one could order two eggs, fries, and white toast for $2.75. Seating was old fashioned counter-and-stool design, centered around the tiny “kitchen” manned by one sardonic/charming cook. This was a place you may have found yourself at any given hour engaging in conversation with people from all walks of life.
The restaurant was enshrined in pop culture as well. In the 1997 movie “Good Will Hunting,” Will (played by Matt Damon) took Skylar (played by Minnie Driver) to the Tasty.
The Tasty closed in 1997 as a result of a major restoration to the building, instigated by Cambridge Savings Bank. The controversy around the closing was documented in Frederico Muchnik’s short film, “Touching History; Harvard Square, The Bank and The Tasty Diner.”
Its passing, and the culture it supported, is still lamented by many.
Lotman, Mo. Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950. New York, Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2009.
Faxon, Tom. “It’s Just Another Night at the Tasty Diner.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 15 April 1982, p.1. (Photo by Ilene Perlman.)
Goins, Jason M. “Tasty Owners Will Not Reopen Famous Diner: Three More Chains to Open Square Branches.”Harvard Crimson. 9 February,1999.
Setten, Elizabeth. ”Food Finds: a visit to Harvard Square’s Tasty.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 2 September 1993, p.L5.
Wikipedia contributors. “Tasty Sandwich Shop.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Feb. 2022. Accessed 21 Mar. 2022.
Muchnik, Frederico. Touching History; Harvard Square,The Bank and The Tasty Diner. Cambridge, MA, 2005. This 33-minute film documents the history and closing days of the diner, development of the historic Read block and contentious relationship between the Cambridge Savings Bank and the Tasty Diner.