Compiled by Deb Mandel, 2022
1917 – 1996
4 JFK St., Harvard Square (Formerly Boylston St.)
11 Prospect Street, Central Square
Located in the heart of Harvard Square, the Wursthaus was a popular gathering spot. In 1927, it advertised “palate ticklers,” such as “fancy stuffed fruit, imported German gingerbread, fancy imported delicatessen goods,” staples such as sauerbraten and schnitzel, Black Forest steak and imported beers and party catering. Its sensibility varied little in 79 years. Wursthaus was located next door to The Tasty in the now-demolished Read Block building.
In 1942, the restaurant was bought by “the unofficial Mayor of Cambridge,” Frank N. Cardullo, and continued to specialize in German and American style dishes, prepared by a “corps of hotel trained chefs.” They also served traditional dinners for Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day. In 1948, Cardullo launched the “Wursthaus To Tour House” policy, a home service of delicious cooked meals,” geared for “people who work all day, and students occupied with their studies.” Food was to be delivered “in a new station wagon.”
Notable patrons of Wursthaus included Harvard President Derek C. Bok, The Aga Khan, and Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich. In 1961, the Wursthaus opened a second location at 11 Prospect Street in Central Square, where they offered “the same food and friendly service that you have always enjoyed.”
In 1974, the Wursthaus won a Silver Award in the German menus category of the National Restaurant Association’s Menu Ideas Exchange Contest. In 1975 and 1977, The Wursthaus was the recipient of a Bronze Award in the National Restaurant Association in the wine and beverage category.
In 1977, the Wursthaus began offering menus in Braille to assist clientele who were blind. In 1986, the Cambridge City Council backed a two-year-old order to approve placement of 10 tables, with chairs and umbrellas, on the MBTA plaza outside its establishment.
In the mid-1980’s, the Wursthaus brought in more than $3 million a year, but the health-conscious, non-bratwurst eating masses of the ’90s, along with renovations to the Read building, led to falling revenues. Frank Cardullo filed for bankruptcy in January 1993 and the Wursthaus closed on July 31, 1996.
On October 25,1997, Frank N. Cardullo died at age 82. Throughout his career he had been very active in civic affairs. Friends and family created a scholarship in his name to be awarded to a Cambridge Rindge and Latin School graduating senior who plans to pursue a career in the culinary arts.
A gastropub called the Russell House Tavern opened in the Wusrthaus’s location, taking the name of the 19th century Harvard furniture dealer that once stood here.
Cardullo, Frank. Jr. Peeking Through the Hole of a Bagel or Behind a Hot Pastrami: The Life and Times of a Restauranteur. 1990.
Lotman, Mo. Harvard Square: An Illustrated History Since 1950. New York, Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2009.
“Advertisements.” The Cambridge Tribune, 1 January 1927, p.5
”Advertisements.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 23 February 1961, p.17.
“Business: Late Wursthaus Owner Honored.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 15 January 1998, p.18.
Cambridge Rambler: “Braille Menus Now Available at Wursthaus.” Boston Herald American, 23 April 1977, p.21.
Ehrenfeld, Tom. “On Food: Great Atmosphere Mit Mediocre Food” Fax, 29 March 1988, p.13.
Miller, Amy. “City Side: Wursthaus Closes After 80 years.”
The Cambridge Chronicle 15 August 1996, p.3.
Miller, Amy. “Food Finds: Worldly Wursthaus Hits the Spot with German Accent.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 5 August 1993, p. 18.
Miller, Amy. “Squarely Business: Wursthaus May Have to Close.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 25 March 1993, p.13.
“Square Institution Bankrupt.” Harvard Crimson, August 2, 1996
“Untitled.”The Cambridge Chronicle, 4 June 1964, p.15.
“Untitled.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 29 June 1967, p.8.
“Untitled.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 9 May 1974, p.10. (winning of Silver Award from National Restaurant Association)
Weaver, Jay, “Wursthaus Tables to Stay in Plaza.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 11 September 1986, p.3.
“Wursthuas “Carte De Jour Right In Your Own Home.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 16 September 1948, p.9.
“Wursthaus Honored.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 12 May 1977, p.11.