Stores to join Chapel lineup

Empty windows on Chapel Street will soon cease to be an eyesore for shoppers and passersby.

After an extensive search, University Properties announced the addition of three new businesses to the Upper Chapel Street retail district on Wednesday: a seafood restaurant, a tea bar and a fashion boutique. They are slated to open at various dates this fall.

Director of University Properties David Newton said Yale has been seeking out the right businesses to occupy the vacant spaces on Chapel Street.

“We have passed up a number of people for those spaces. It has to do with experience, complementing other people in the area, and commitment to New Haven,” Newton said. “This is not something that we ever take lightly.”

Pacifico Restaurant will occupy 220 College Street, the former location of Tibwin’s Restaurant. Oolongs Tea Bar will be located at 1044 Chapel Street in Sherman’s Alley, and Luciano Padua, a boutique, will fill the space at 1130 Chapel Street, on the corner of York and Chapel.

Rafael Palomino, the owner of Pacifico Restaurant, said he liked the architecture, development and major construction projects in downtown New Haven when he came for a visit from New York City two years ago.

“I fell in love with the space, and I feel very strongly that it’s going to be a great success,” he said.

Palomino owns two other restaurants, Sonora and another restaurant named Pacifico, in Westchester County, New York. He said the menu at Pacifico will have a “Latin flair” to it, serving up dishes like mango ceviche, lobster and crab dumplings, and black sea bass.

He said the restaurant will have a fun atmosphere that was “upscale, but not pretentious.” Palomino is spicing up the property’s interior by renovating the floors and kitchen, bringing in tile from Portugal and Italy and chairs from Barcelona.

“It’s going to have a sexy appeal, because that is what the town is all about,” he said.

Tracy Jackson, who co-owns Oolongs Tea Bar, said she and her partner Tammy Hackett were attracted to the Upper Chapel area for its liveliness. She noted the location’s proximity to Yale, the theater district, and the New Haven Green.

Jackson, who also owns Koffee Too?, said she has noticed more and more people drinking tea, both for the taste and the health benefits.

“People travel a long way for good tea,” Jackson said.

The bar, which Jackson said will have an Asian theme, will offer 50 different kinds of tea, as well as other drinks like hot chocolate, lemonade, chais and a limited amount of coffee. Oolongs will also sell tea in bulk alongside various tea accessories, like Asian-style tea pots. Jackson said the store is breaking with tradition by creating more of a bar atmosphere, with bar stools in the front and limited seating in back.

Luciano Padua, a designer and owner of the boutique with the same name, said he was going to offer a fashion-forward look, selling new styles two weeks after the fashions appear on runways in Milan or Paris, at more affordable prices.

“We need to change the styling so that people can come back every three or four weeks and find something new. This is our strength,” Padua said.

Padua currently distributes clothing in Italy under a different trademark and sells his designs to various retailers in the United States, but Luciano Padua in New Haven is the first boutique he will own in this country. In the future, he hopes to spread to other areas with “upscale campuses,” including Cambridge.

The boutique will aim at female shoppers in the “middle market,” Padua said, with prices usually ranging from $50 to $200.

“Our price points and quality are aimed at people who are not shopping at Target, but are not shopping at Gucci,” he said.

Newton said while more of the stores on Chapel Street, in contrast to those on Broadway, target a slightly older clientele, University Properties is concerned that prices are affordable for students. For example, Pacifico Restaurant will be offering some items within a student’s budget.

“They know they’re in a university market, so they’re going to be looking to attract students,” Newton said.

Padua said he hopes to open his boutique on Sept. 14. Oolongs Tea Bar should be opening in mid-October, and Pacifico Restaurant will open at the end of November or early December.

Sherman’s Alley is one section of the popular Chapel Street shopping district, which will soon expand with the arrival of three new retail outlets.
Philip Rucker
Sherman’s Alley is one section of the popular Chapel Street shopping district, which will soon expand with the arrival of three new retail outlets.

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