Fresco’s Cafe and Grille, a restaurant on the northwest corner of Vassar and Mass. Ave., will be closing after 21 years of operation.
“The MIT community is great, but it’s time to take a break,” said Maria, who runs the restaurant with her husband Jim, both of whom preferred not to share their last name. “It’s all we’ve known,” said Maria. “Faculty, students — never one complaint.”
The small restaurant is a special place to those who frequent it. One diner at Fresco’s, researcher Chathan “Chat” M. Cooke PhD ’70, has been a patron at the restaurant since it opened. “It’s such a treasure to have this in your neighborhood,” said Cooke. “I have visitors from different labs around the country … and they’ve said this alone is reason to work at MIT.”
“We want the MIT community to know how thankful we are,” said Jim, for whom thanking the community seemed a top priority. “I wish I could tell them ‘Thank you’ in capital letters.” The two were also thankful for the loyalty of regulars, such as MIT Financial Coordinator Stephen M. Downey, who was conversing with Jim and Maria on Thursday afternoon while waiting for his order.
“I’ve been going here for 13 years,” said Downey. “I love it.”
Fresco’s will operate normally though its last day — today. They close at 4 p.m., and the sign on the door only subtly hints at their permanent closing: “Friday: 7–4, Saturday: Closed, Sunday: Closed.”
“It’s been business as usual,” said Maria, of the past week. Construction has obscured the small restaurant for the last several months, its neon signs hidden behind dust covers and scaffolding, but Maria said that patronage was “not at all” affected by the it.
She said that the break will be somewhat of a sabbatical — the two owners haven’t taken a vacation in 21 years — and they plan to come back “in the future, definitely.” In the meantime, patrons haven’t thought about what might go in its place.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the last few days,” said Downey. Cooke added, “If you don’t know food, you say, ‘Oh, it’s just another place,’ but actually, the quality is really, really high, and the price is unbelievable. I can’t imagine what else they would put in here that would be better.”
After 21 years, Jim and Maria only have one heartfelt message to the MIT community: thank you.