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The Cantab Lounge, an Essential Central Square Bar and Music Venue, Will Reopen

This time with new floors, new bathrooms, and ADA compliance

A band with saxophone, trumpet, bass, guitar, and more plays in a small, casual bar. A couple dances in front of them.
The Chicken Slacks used to play on Thursdays at the Cantab

For a while there, it looked as though a classic Central Square dive bar had closed for good. The Cantab Lounge — which hosted countless spoken word nights and local bands over the years — closed last year because of the pandemic, and owner Richard “Fitzy” Fitzgerald decided to sell the beloved bar and venue in July 2020.

“After 50 years of good times and good friends, I have made the decision to put the Cantab Lounge up for sale,” Fitzgerald wrote on Facebook at the time.

Local bookers and artists were alarmed. Simone Beaubien, who ran the Boston Poetry Slam series at the Cantab Lounge, told WBUR that the closure of any performance venue would be a loss for a city that’s been bleeding performance venues over the past decade.

“The loss of any live performance venue is an enormous loss, especially one like the Cantab, that doesn’t engage in the sort of gatekeeping that venues running at a higher financial caliber are able to,” Beaubien said. “The Cantab was a really open space.”

But now it looks as though the Cantab is being revived. Last week, the Cambridge License Commission approved a liquor license for a new version of the Cantab Lounge, under the ownership of Tim Dibble, who is a partner at Alta Equity, a private equity firm based in Concord.

Speaking with Cambridge Day, Dibble said the Cantab “is a legendary local landmark” before saying that it needs some improvements and updates, including new floors (which will, ostensibly, not be sticky with five decades of spilled alcohol), bathrooms, and other renovations to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The liquor license still needs to be approved by the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and Dibble estimates the renovation work will take two months. So, it might take a little while, but a renewed Cantab is on the way.

The Cantab Lounge May Not Re-Open After COVID-19 Pandemic [VL]
Uncertainty Over Cantab Lounge’s Future As Owner Announces Intention To Sell [WBUR]
Liquor License Approval Sets The Stage For A Revived Cantab Lounge [WBUR]
Cantab Lounge to Relaunch with Improvements, Welcomed by City Officials and Licensing Board [CD]

Cantab Lounge

738 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 354-2685 Visit Website