Italian bistro opening delayed until summer



Students anticipating the March arrival of an Italian eatery on Broadway will have to ‘fuggedaboudit’ until at least the middle of the summer.

The co-owner of Bistro la Mensa, the Italian restaurant that will be located behind the Yale Bookstore next to Ezra Stiles College, said the eatery’s scheduled March opening will be pushed back to late June or early July. University Properties analyst Andrea Pizziconi ’01 said the delays were due to an extensive design review process — not normally required for new tenants — conducted because the restaurant is so close to Yale dorms.

Owner Gideon Ghebreyesus said the delay is a good thing in a way because it will allow him to get the restaurant running perfectly by the time Yale students return in the fall.

The bistro may be joined this summer by a new tenant at the site of the former Tibwin Grill. The grill was owned by Richter Elser ’81, but he chose not to renew his lease while he fought a losing campaign for the House seat occupied by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.

“The interest on that space has been tremendous and we hope to have a strong operator there by the end of the summer,” Pizziconi said.

Ghebreyesus, who also owns Caffe Adulis — which is next door to the Tibwin site — said he was pleased that someone would probably be filling the space.

Pizziconi said University Properties is still looking for the right tenant for the site on York Street between J. Press and Barrie Ltd. The site has been unoccupied since Krauszer’s lease ran out — and was not renewed — two years ago.

“We’re still evaluating concepts for the final space on Broadway because it is our last major chance to add to the retail mix in the area so we want to proceed carefully,” Pizziconi said.

Some area merchants have recently criticized University Properties for saturating the Broadway area with eateries. Anthony Koutroumanis and Spiro Vastakis, who own Yorkside Pizza and Restaurant and the Educated Burgher, respectively, told the Hartford Courant in March that they do not believe bringing an increased number of restaurants to Broadway is a good idea.

Vastakis said Thursday that competition was good up to a certain point, but he felt the Broadway retail area was not as diverse as it could be.

“How many more food stores can we bring?” Vastakis said.

Koutroumanis was not available for comment.

Pizziconi said that in the process of bringing in new occupants, University Properties is trying to protect its businesses and be mindful of other merchants in the area. She also pointed out that some of the area restaurants, such as A-One Pizza, are not University tenants.

“We’ve tried to minimize overlap,” Pizziconi said.

University Properties is also looking to fill a partial vacancy on Whitney and Audubon avenues, where Yale 20,000 square feet for 13 retail tenants. A toy store, aptly called The Toy Store on Audubon, has already signed a lease for part of the building.

“We are trying to play off the existing strengths in the community which include the arts and several anchors that draw children to the area,” Pizziconi said.

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