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That weedy restaurant near Fresh Pond Circle

There is a strange, abandoned-looking Chinese restaurant close to the LaundroMutt. I pass it sometimes and nearly crash my car. I keep trying to figure out of it's open or not. It's often a true Rose Nylund moment. IS it open for business? If not, when did it close? And if it's closed, why on earth is it still there? And if it's open -- CAN THEY HIRE A LANDSCAPER?

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  1. Living in the neighborhood, I've heard stories that members of the family who own it disagree on what to do, and so there it sits.

    1. Are you referring to the Tokyo restaurant on Fresh Pond Parkway?

      1. It's been closed for many years, to my knowledge. Sadly.

        1. Given how long it took to tear down the Faces disco building, we could be looking at that place for a while. Try to keep your eyes on the road, I guess.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve L

            I went to Faces once in maybe 1978. Good times!!

          2. This reminds me of a story from my neighborhood. I often get questions from people wandering through the South End about the Sahara Restaurant at the corner of Shawmut and Waltham. It's been closed since the 60s, when the South End's once-thriving Syrian and Lebanese ex-pat community started moving to greener suburbs, but the sign survives. The building, originally a church, is jointly owned by several cousins, adult grandchildren of the founder of the Syrian Grocery Importing empire (which imports groceries to supply small Middle Eastern restaurants and sub shops all over Greater Boston, and still has an excellent retail outlet up the block).

            The cousins have never agreed on what to do with it, so it sits, slowly mouldering and becoming increasingly ivy-covered. It's in a historic district, so any buyer would have to preserve the exterior, which makes it problematic for many development purposes.

            It was the preferred location for MTV's Season One of The Real World, but the cousins reportedly held out for too high a price with MTV (which supposedly offered them seven figures and a lot of free renovations for a few months of shooting), so it went with its second choice, the Beacon Hill firehouse.

            A fascinating remembrance of the Sahara in its hotspot days here:
            http://marashgirl.blogspot.com/2012/0...

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            4 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              How can it be financially viable to let a building sit unused for that long?

              1. re: KWagle

                If you're already financially secure, and your squabbling relatives can't come to a decision they all legally have a say in, I guess you have little choice but to let it sit. The good news is the South End is running out of undeveloped tracts of land east of Mass Ave. Last valuation I saw, it was worth something like $12M undeveloped.

                But again, any buyer is going to inherit some issues: the building apparently has structural problems, historic-preservation restrictions require you to preserve the exterior (you can't simply raze it), and I've heard that church interiors are tough to reconfigure for other uses. The South End has at least one other former church for sale that is in much better condition but is similarly a white elephant.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Don't they have to pay property taxes and at least enough maintenance to keep the building from becoming a hazard? I'd expect that to add up after 25 years.

                  1. re: KWagle

                    The family has a very successful grocery importing business, clearly has the means to cover costs there. They have had to do ongoing maintenance work to keep the thing standing, fix the roof after a mysterious small fire. Valuations for taxes tend to undershoot market value. South End real estate just keeps getting more expensive. I imagine the investment has appreciated handsomely since the 60s.

                    Fort Point is full of empty, dark warehouse buildings that developers are just sitting on, waiting for them to appreciate. Definitely a long game.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            2. would love to know more about a long-abandoned (more than 25 years) place on the west side of broadway in powderhouse square. looks like a dance place, not sure if there was food.

              3 Replies
              1. re: wonderwoman

                Oh, that big green thing with the picture of Louis Armstrong in the window? I've been fascinated by that place.

                1. re: wonderwoman

                  This came up on the Davis Square LiveJournal community back in the day. Here's a quote from that 2007 thread:

                  "The Garden Room is part of Cabot Farms Catering, which was operated until at least 7-8 years ago as a private function space, though to be sure the glory days of regular use were well in the past. Basically it is just a catering hall with two sides. Inside it is most definitely vintage 60's.

                  In the 80's they used it as a dance club called "On Broadway At Cabot Farms" but as I recall it didn't fare all that well. That was when they replaced the awnings out front (one of which has completely blown away by now).

                  Many youth dances were held there until the late 60's when the rock/drug crowd came in and there were a few incidents of trouble so they stopped having them. After that it was pretty much weddings and such until the 80's.

                  I agree that the outside (and inside) decor is such a throwback that it would be very cool if it could be retained should something ever move in there (and I like the neon sign too... the non-broken side was occasionally lit as late as the 90's). I have always thought it could be a cool "B-Side Lounge" kind of place.

                  There are a few impediments aside from any ownership disputes that I see. One is the almost total lack of parking in the area for anything like a dance or live music club - I personally don't care, but there are all sorts of zoning requirements for restaurants, etc. Then there is the fact that I am sure it needs things like safety updates, sprinklers, etc. And of course it is right next to bunch of private residences so the neighbors could certainly put a wrench into any plans to revive it into something that might draw a crowd.

                  You are certainly not alone in thinking it is a cool building, though. It is like a time capsule."

                  http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com

                  1. re: yarm

                    thanks for the info. i've been by it hundreds of times, but the name never registered.

                    interesting that it was in use up until a few years ago.

                    a quick google search turned up a few more pieces:

                    http://harrumpher.com/?p=106

                    http://creepychusetts.blogspot.com/20...

                    http://www.thesomervillenews.com/arch...

                2. Assuming you are referring to the place on the Parkway, it's been closed for years. My friend who has lived in the area for about 30 years seems to remember it being open and going there once as a kid, but that was probably about 25 years ago. It was a restaurant/fish market and always on the "fishy" side (pardon the pun) even when it was open.

                  How long has it been since you have been by there? I seem to recall that they finally demolished the building in recent months.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: pickledtink

                    As pinchofsalt mentioned above, I believe the OP is talking about the former Tokyo restaurant. It was originally a Chinese restaurant, but I can't remember the name. There also was a Chinese-American restaurant in what is now Golden Garden. Then it reopened as Tokyo which offered some sushi, tempura, but not certain what else beyond that. I think it had another stint later with Chinese food.

                    The fish market you reference has reopened a more upscale outlet in Arlington run by the son (children?) of the owners at Fresh Pond.

                    I have never heard the story of the abandoned ballroom/dance club at Powderhouse Square. Its a great building, but would be large to do anything in the hospitality business without nearby parking.

                    1. re: itaunas

                      I think it was Peking on Fresh Pond.

                      1. re: peregrine

                        Thanks, I now remember them offering peking duck with 24 hour advance and it was the first place that I had peking duck (probably twice). All other memories of the food have been lost in time.

                        1. re: itaunas

                          And I believe the Tokyo Restaurant used to be located in a small space on Concord Ave a few doors down from LaundroMutt before it moved to bigger digs on Fresh Pond Pkwy.
                          On the subject of long empty restaurant spaces, one wonders why the site of the former Chilis (and before that a Swiss restaurant, and others I can't recall) on Mt. Auburn in Harvard Square remains unused. I've heard the landlord is difficult to deal with and wants an exorbitant rent, but why not cut a deal and get something for your property? Or is there some sort of tax benefit in leaving these places shuttered?

                          1. re: katzzz

                            I think the place on Concord Ave was called Osaka. Both Tokyo and Osaka were open at the same time in the early 90s.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Osaka sounds right. It was a pleasant spot.

                              1. re: katzzz

                                It was indeed although I had completely forgotten it till you mentioned it.