The demand for an inexpensive yet traditional sit-down restaurant in the Broadway shopping area will soon be filled — as will the vacant space behind the Yale Bookstore.
Bistro La Mensa, a new Italian restaurant, will open sometime in late January or early February in the space adjacent to the bookstore’s gift-apparel section. Gideon Ghebreyesus, who is also the co-owner of the Eritrean restaurant Caffe Adulis, said that after signing with a contractor this Friday, construction should begin within the next 10 days.
“We are excited and anxious to open up the restaurant and serve the community which I have been a part of for 25 years,” he said.
Bistro La Mensa will serve Italian dishes such as salads, pastas, paninis, desserts and coffee, with all meals priced below $10. It will also offer a bar as well as take-out options. Both lunch and dinner will be available, and the restaurant will stay open seven days a week, until 1 or 2 a.m.
“We want to serve these items in a clean and friendly atmosphere, at a reasonable cost,” Ghebreyesus said.
Bistro La Mensa should fill the demand for a certain kind of restaurant absent in the Broadway shopping area, Ghebreyesus said. It is not trying to replicate other restaurants in the vicinity. For example, said Ghebreyesus, there will be no pizza served.
University Properties Director David Newton said Bistro La Mensa, is more likely bring more people to the Broadway area rather than take existing customers away from other establishments because it is a more “traditional, sit–down type of restaurant.”
“Bistro La Mensa was meant to be complementary — not to compete with other merchants,” Newton said.
Students are welcoming the additional activity that will come to that part of campus, which is located near Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges.
“More late-night dining options are always good, especially when they’re close to home,” Stiles resident Erin Birdsong ’05 said.
Ghebreyesus said that while the Yale student body will be the “main core” of the restaurant’s customer base, Bistro La Mensa will serve a wide range of people, including professors and other Yale affiliates, theatergoers, and New Haven residents.
Ghebreyesus said that although there have been several problematic issues regarding the design and architecture of the restaurant, everything has now been finalized. The original plan was to construct a glass enclosure for dining attached to the building, but instead they will simply provide outdoor seating and will wait one or two years before possibly adding an addition.
“The design took a long time, but overall it’s been tremendous,” Ghebreyesus said.
Ghebreyesus said he has been working closely with the University to resolve design and construction issues.
“University Properties has been more than helpful in getting this done,” he said.
Newton said that University Properties has assisted Bistro La Mensa in its early stages by providing technical assistance, reviewing designs and drawings, preparing the space for construction, and helping with the contracting decision.
“It’s a partnership to help get the restaurant up and running,” Newton said. “These are complicated projects.”
Newton said University Properties is always looking to improve and diversify the mix of retail and dining options around Yale.
“Any space that is vacant we are actively pursuing,” Newton said.