It’s been a long road for UpperWest, officially opening tomorrow (September 15) at 1 Cedar St. in North Cambridge. When the project was first announced way back in March 2014, it was meant to open the following month as a 20-seat "casual wine bar" with a focus on charcuterie, cheese, and small plates, and it would also host community and small business events. At the time, it was slated for 1001 Massachusetts Ave., located between Cambridge’s Harvard and Central squares.
But in one of "the weirdest spectacles ever seen at a public hearing," according to Cambridge Day, UpperWest was denied the necessary licenses to open there, apparently because a local business owner feared competition.
By early 2015, UpperWest was still hopeful about opening at that address, letting diners know to expect "a European style restaurant with a coffee bar theme during the daytime, and a wine bar theme in the evenings" with the aforementioned charcuterie, cheese, and small plates, along with the focus on events. As it turned out, back when the licensing commission initially denied UpperWest the licenses it needed, the commission had received a petition trying to block it — a petition that later turned out to be forged, allegedly. (Update: Sydney DePaulo, who has worked in Cambridge real estate, ended up pleading guilty to 11 counts regarding the petition.)
But all was quiet on the UpperWest front until May 2016, when the team announced that it had found an apparently friendlier location in North Cambridge, where it would open as a "community food hub" offering a variety of cooking classes, seminars, and other food-focused events.
Opening day finally arrives tomorrow, the team announced today, describing UpperWest as "more than just a bar or restaurant." From Thursday through Sunday each week, starting at 6 p.m., it will be open to the public with cheese and charcuterie (in tasting flights or a la carte) with optional wine, beer, and whiskey pairings, as well as food specials from guest chefs. The rest of the time, it’ll be the place to go for a variety of pop-up dinners, classes, demonstrations, networking events. Keep an eye on the calendar for details.
Plus, UpperWest is also home to the Food Business Association, a networking and educational group for Massachusetts food industry professionals and entrepreneurs.
UpperWest is accessible via the back entrance of 1 Cedar St., which is a short walk from Alewife and Davis Square.