Two new eateries to join downtown scene



Better late than never.

Two new shops will provide some relief soon to students running out of places to spend their meal plan rebate checks. But the strike may be over before they arrive.

Gourmet Heaven II on Whitney Avenue plans to open in October, manager Chris Cho said. Another University Properties tenant, Gideon Ghebreyesus, the co-owner of Bistro la Mensa, said his eatery, an Italian restaurant located behind the Yale Bookstore, should open in late December or early January. Both food sellers were supposed to open during the previous school year but the projects were delayed.

“These projects are complicated,” University Properties Director David Newton said of the Gourmet Heaven II building process.

Newton was specific about the properties’ opening dates. He said Bistro la Mensa should be open before next summer and Gourmet Heaven II should be completed before the end of the first semester.

Ghebreyesus said Bistro la Mensa’s opening, which was originally scheduled for March and then July, was delayed by design changes. The original plan for the restaurant included a glass-enclosed seating area. When this part was removed from the plan, it changed the entire design and caused delays, Ghebreyesus said. He said the owner and University Properties still have the option to add the seating area in a year or two.

“It’s the pain of construction,” Ghebreyesus said.

Ghebreyesus said the plans for his restaurant must be approved by the city and then a contractor must be hired. At that point, it will take approximately three months for construction.

Ghebreyesus said the restaurant will be “geared to the Yale population,” offering “fresh comfort food at a reasonable price” with meals costing under $10. The restaurant will be open until 2 a.m., Ghebreyesus said.

Cho admitted there had been delays in opening Gourmet Heaven II.

“We didn’t choose the right builders and the right architect,” Cho said. “But now we’ve got the right person.”

While the exact details have not been worked out yet, Cho said the new store will be “almost the same kind of store” as the original location on Broadway, but “maybe more grocery and a little more gourmet.” He said Gourmet Heaven II will probably offer sushi but no hot food buffet. Newton said the new location will also offer fresh flowers and fruit.

“They’ll be open well into the evening,” Newton said.

University Properties is also in ongoing discussions with prospective merchants for its other properties. Newton said his office is “in active discussions with a prospective merchant” for the Krauszer’s space on York Street, for which Newton said University Properties was leasing retail.

The office is also still looking for a new tenant for the site of the former Tibwin Grill on College and Crown streets. Newton said it would make sense to place another restaurant there because it is located near the Shubert Theater and is already set up as a restaurant.

Newton said the office is also working on finding more “arts-friendly, family-oriented kinds of stores” for the Whitney-Audubon building, which currently features the Toy Store on Audubon.

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