As the lines of customers at Chapel Wine Shop keep growing longer, the shelves keep getting emptier. The upscale liquor store is scheduled to close Oct. 30, leaving a prime piece of Yale-owned real estate empty.
Bob Fullerton has co-managed the shop for the past 11 years with his wife, Eileen, who originally purchased the space at 1092 Chapel St. Fullerton said they recently decided to close Chapel Wine because of his wife’s health problems, which would make it impossible to continue to run a full-time business.
The shop catered to Yale students as well as local New Haven residents and often hired students as part-time employees. Fullerton said his wife will miss the relationship she developed with the University community.
“She loved this shop; it was her baby,” Fullerton said. “Yale students became like her children.”
The shop on Chapel Street has not yet been leased by another business, but Director of University Properties David Newton said since fine apparel stores and restaurants occupy the areas around Chapel Wine, another liquor shop may not be the most appropriate use of the space.
“We are obviously not opposed to liquor stores because there are many others in the area,” Newton said. “But with the closing of Chapel Wine, we will have to think long and hard about what the best use of that space will be in the future.”
Preparing to close their doors, for the past week Chapel Wine has been selling its stock at the state minimum price. Between the influx of visitors over Parents’ Weekend and students eager to purchase cheap alcohol, the store has never seen such crowds, Fullerton said.
Ben Zemke, a Chapel Wine employee for more than seven years, said in the past week he has observed a “feeding frenzy” of people wanting good deals on liquor. At the rate the shop is emptying out, Zemke said he is not sure the store will have stock to last until it closes at the end of the week.
“Working here has been a wonderful experience,” Zemke said. “It’s the end of a career, and I will miss having a finger on the pulse of New Haven.”
Chapel Wine offers a wide selection of wines, spirits and beer at prices above the typical college student’s budget. Many students say they do not like to shop at Chapel Wine because it is more expensive and demands proof of age more frequently than other nearby liquor shops, but the discounted prices have attracted the interest of students scrounging for a deal.
Quincy Carroll ’07 said although he usually frequents College Wine, he thinks the decreased prices at Chapel Wine provide an opportunity to try a new place.
“If it’s cheaper, it’s definitely worth a try,” Carroll said.
Fullerton said he knows the shop will be missed, but he is sure that another New Haven liquor store will fill Chapel Wine’s void, if not its actual space.