You may not have heard of Shine Square, but Dave Wells is hoping to put the area, a small stretch between Davis and Porter, on the map — and he’s starting with a pub.
Wells, along with Ron McNeill and chef Mike Almond, recently took over ownership of McCabe’s Bar & Grille, and the three are transforming it into Shine Square Pub, scheduled to soft open at the very end of December.
All of them have a history with the space. Wells worked there over a decade ago when it was called Spirit Bar, and fondly remembers the friendly neighborhood vibe and “come one, come all” attitude of Spirit. He left before Spirit closed in 2013, but later returned to the space as the opening bar manager for McCabe’s Bar & Grille (also known as McCabe’s on Mass) — which is where he met McNeill and Almond, who currently work at the sports bar. All three were fans of Spirit Bar and are hoping to mold Shine Square in Spirit’s old image.
Many of the changes to the bar will be aesthetic ones, with more (and newer) TVs, a foosball table, a jukebox, and another pinball machine. Wells said they’re also trying to get an arcade game like Big Buck Hunter, which was a staple at Spirit Bar.
McCabe’s current menu is focused on wings, snacks, and burgers, and while Shine Square will keep the comfort food, it also will offer healthy options: salads like grilled vegetable and beet with goat cheese, and sandwiches like shrimp po’boys. More substantial dishes will include steak, chicken, and a catch of the day.
The new owners are taking a more unconventional approach to the drink menu. While Shine Square will have a standard drink list featuring beer, wine, and cocktails (“one cocktail per spirit,” Wells said), there also will be one wine, one cocktail, and one shot on tap. Wells, who made and served limoncello on tap when he worked at Cinderella’s in Central Square, said that he wanted to play around with tap drinks.
“The wine on tap is probably going to be a rosé. The cocktail will be called the Tapper’s Delight, and it’s going to be rotating,” he said. “A lot of regulars at McCabe’s drink sambuca, so that’s the shot. We’re going to see how that works. It might stay forever.”
As for the name of the pub, Wells said it references a plaque right outside of the bar, dedicated to John D. Shine, original owner of the Porter House Cafe, which occupied the space before Spirit Bar.
“It’s a little bit of a tribute to the old neighborhood,” Wells said. “And it’s a way of putting a location on the map. We’re not in Porter or Davis, so we figured, why not try to make Shine Square a thing? And if it’s not, it’s just a name, but we thought it would be a tribute to the family.”
Shine Square Pub will open to the public on Dec. 29, with a grand opening and sign reveal slated for a week or two into January.
Shine Square Pub, 2046 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; Mondays–Sundays from 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m. beginning Dec. 29