‘An emotional moment’: Cambridge Historical Commission hears proposal to demolish Middle East

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Cambridge Historical Commission heard a preliminary proposal to demolish the iconic Middle East restaurant and music venue in Central Square.

The Middle East first opened as a Lebanese restaurant in the 70s and started booking live music in the 80s.

The club’s owner has filed a demolition proposal to build a new six-story hotel, which includes two new music venues on the basement level and on the ground floor.

Those who are connected to the history of the cultural institution told Boston 25 New that its spirit can’t be recreated.

For decades, the Middle East has held on to a rich history of performances from up-and-coming artists and a thriving underground music scene.

“Losing something that’s important to the residents here so that somebody else who doesn’t live here can come in for a night or two, and some people can make money. I’d be very much against that,” said Cambridge resident Linda Brion-Meisls.

The attorney who spoke on behalf of the owner at Thursday night’s meeting called the project “an emotional moment”.

“The real reason I’m doing this project, I want to bring back the Middle East,” said attorney Patrick Barrett. “This is something I believe will be a benefit for Central Square. Central Square will be developed one way or another.”

Barrett said the Middle East is booking shows through next year and isn’t planning on moving forward until 2024 if the permit is approved.

The Historical Commission told Barrett that they need to see a more concrete, flushed out plan before making any decision.

An indefinite continuation was granted, giving Barrett the discretion to return when more details about the project are available.

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