Harvard Square, home to a Painted Burro restaurant, will make perfect sense: the former Border Cafe space

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The Border Cafe space on Church Street in Harvard Square will be filled with The Painted Burro, another Mexican restaurant. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Painted Burro, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Davis Square in Somerville, is adding its fourth location in a place familiar to food lovers: the former home of the Border Cafe in Harvard Square.

The opening is expected in the spring, said Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association. She welcomed owner The Alpine Restaurant Group as a “good operator” who would revive a long-closed storefront.

The border cafe opened in 1987 at 32 church street and began to expand rapidly in and out of state. The lines at the door that owners had expected night after night in Harvard Square shortened with the July 2012 closure of the 10 Church St. AMC Loews cinema, part of a veil affecting businesses until Brattle St. It never reopened after a fire on Dec. 1, 2019, and almost a year ago management confirmed the location would never reopen.

The Painted Burro will need to refresh the shabby interiors left behind by the Border Cafe after a fire closed it in December 2019. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Painted Burro was launched in March 2012 at 219 Elm Street, home with Posto and Rosebud Kitchen, other restaurants operated by The Alpine Restaurant Group in Davis Square. It expanded to Boston’s South End in 2017 and Waltham in February, according to Marc Hurwitz’s Boston Restaurant Talk blog.

Alpine flagged some changes to the outdoor space on Church Street outside the Cambridge Historical Commission on January 6, when it applied for permission to alter the entrance design, replace some windows, install awnings and new signs and build a patio deck.

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