Although my elders maintain that I missed the real golden era of Harvard Square, the square and its unique, often quirky locally owned businesses played a distinct role in my decision to settle nearby 30 years ago. These businesses, many of which could not have thrived elsewhere, reflected the outlook, interests, and aesthetics of their proprietors and their customers — that is, real people. Club Casablanca certainly qualified as one of these businesses — a joy to visit because of its local flavor and its connection to a thriving community (“Gin joint’s last call,” Metro, Dec. 30).
Each time that one of these businesses closes its doors and is replaced by an outlet of a national chain that might well exist anywhere, Harvard Square is poorer for the loss. The square remains a unique place, but that uniqueness dwindles year by year.
It is time to address the losses of locally owned businesses and encourage local entrepreneurs to create small businesses that respond to the unique needs of the community. Otherwise Harvard Square will soon be merely a Harvard-themed outdoor mall.