Brothers Marketplace opens in Kendall Square

The 12,000 square-foot grocery store has local produce, hot food options, demo area

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Brothers Marketplace offers a hot foods section and cafe for shoppers who want more than just groceries.
Edwin Song–The Tech

Brothers Marketplace Cambridge opened Tuesday at One Broadway in Kendall Square. The 12,000 square-foot grocery store offers produce at a variety of price points. It also has a hot food section, a dining area, and a demo space. 

The store’s options include “prepared foods made in-store, baked goods, fresh produce, local seafood, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, local and international cheeses, and offerings from local producers, such as Cambridge’s own Iggy’s Bread and Bonnie’s Jams.”

The space is owned by MIT and leased to Brothers Marketplace for 15 years, Sarah Gallop, MIT’s co-director of government and community relations, wrote in an email to The Tech.

The Tech visited the store Wednesday afternoon. Several dozen customers were present, most of them young adults shopping by themselves. A few older shoppers and families were also present.

Prices for milk start at $2.99 per gallon and eggs start at $1.99 per dozen. In addition, the store offers higher-priced organic and locally-sourced options. The cooked foods section of the store includes a bakery and cafe, a salad bar, a deli, a hot pretzel display, and a sushi display.

The store grew out of the Kendall Square Initiative zoning process. In May 2016, MIT was granted a permit by the City of Cambridge to develop a mixed-use district in Kendall Square on six former MIT parking lots.

MIT held over a hundred community meetings, Gallop said in a phone interview with The Tech. At these meetings, the top wish of attendees was for MIT to bring a grocery store into Kendall Square, since at the time there was no local grocery store. 

Gallop explained that MIT decided to locate the store at One Broadway in part because it was equidistant from MIT and surrounding residential areas and the planned building had a large lobby. 

MIT selected a vendor after looking at many options and hiring a consultant with expertise in the Kendall Square retail area. Gallop said that MIT needed a vendor who could work with a 12,000 square-foot space and would provide a variety of “grocery experiences,” as some clientele would go and eat dinner there, whereas others would just buy groceries. Additionally, the store needed to be accessible to anyone living or visiting in the area. 

Brothers Marketplace, by Roche Bros, was a good option, since it would be able to provide groceries at a variety of price points, Gallop said. Additionally, its Downtown Crossing Roche Bros store showed that Roche Bros was capable of running a small, urban grocery store. 

A fully executed lease was announced Dec. 14, 2017. 

Peter Su G, GSC president, wrote in an email to The Tech, “I don't remember very much student input into choosing the actual vendor for the grocery store.” However, “MIT had heard a lot of feedback from students and the broader Cambridge community that a grocery store was needed.”

The store had 24 Cambridge residents working at the store on opening day. MIT and Roche Bros have focused on hiring Cambridge residents, Gallop said. Recently, MIT opened a job connector to connect those in Cambridge with workforce development opportunities. Roche Bros partnered with MIT to set up two hiring days at the connector and “blanketed” the community with notifications about the hiring.

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce projects that the store will add more than 200 jobs to the neighborhood. 

Gallop projected that the store will “do very well,” since there is no other grocery store nearby, as the Star Market at University Park and Harvest Co-op have both closed, leaving only HMart and Whole Foods in Central and Star Market at Gore Street. She said that the store was “jam packed” on opening day.

Gallop said she expects the store’s main customers will be employees working in Kendall and at Sloan; graduate students — especially those in Eastgate and in the new Kendall Square graduate student housing; and residents in the surrounding area, which includes several large apartment buildings. 

Mahi Elango ’20, UA president, wrote in an email to The Tech that the “bulk of the discussions occurred before my time,” but that the “UA firmly believes in the importance of accessible, low-cost grocery stores and has been working on food insecurity projects for the last several years.”

Su agreed. “I think that the store will provide another option, which is a net positive,” he said. 

The store is open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.–8 p.m and accepts EBT. 

Cami Mejia contributed reporting.