Those looking for a little indulgence and relaxation as midterms approach need look no further than Chapel Street.
Moka, a new chocolate cafe located on Chapel and Orange streets, and Rimage, a spa and salon located on Chapel near Howe Street, celebrated grand openings yesterday. Both owners said they hope their respective businesses will contribute to the general revitalization of the downtown area.
“Moka is one small brick in the edifice that is the downtown revitalization effort … When I was in school I never came out here. It was at best scary and at worst dangerous,” Moka owner Duncan Goodall ’95 said.
University Properties Director David Newton said although Moka is not in a University Properties space, he thinks it will fit in to the general redevelopment initiative.
“We are delighted about the arrival of Moka … It will be a terrific addition to that area, good for the city and good for the whole retail environment,” he said.
While Moka is new, Rimage is adding a second floor to its existing business. Rimage owner Len Yanavich said that the expansion of the salon will also play an important role in the downtown development effort.
“We took a foothold on a very beautiful old building and maintained it from the wrecking ball,” he said.
Moka, which has been open for three weeks, held its grand opening yesterday, during which free samples of the store’s speciality hot chocolates were distributed and prizes were raffled off to customers.
Goodall said that although customers so far have predominantly been employees in the nearby financial district or graduate students, the location of the cafe will eventually be the key to its success among undergraduates.
“During midterms and finals when people are looking for places that they can hole themselves up in and study, it will serve well,” he said.
The cafe currently offers wireless internet connectivity to all customers free of charge within its walls, and Goodall plans to expand the wireless Internet service to the adjacent plaza and courtyard come springtime.
Goodall also has plans to expand Moka’s hours into the evening in hopes that it will become an “ideal date location” for Yale students.
The idea of a chocolate cafe immediately struck him as unique, Goodall, who also owns Koffee? on Audubon Street, said.
“I thought, ‘This is a great idea!'” Goodall said. “It combines two addictive substances and it’s legal.”
Although Goodall’s original plan was to serve only chocolate and coffee, he soon realized that consumers were demanding much more. Moka now serves a variety of foods, including a full breakfast and full lunch.
“I did some market research, and I realized that there was a huge demand for other lunch places,” he said.
If chocolate is not the answer, one can walk up Chapel to Rimage Spa and Salon. With the grand opening of its second story expansion, Yanavich said the additional space will allow Rimage to move most of the spa treatments upstairs and accommodate more customers — now patrons can enjoy a massage with a friend.
Yanavich said the expansion of Rimage shows the community that the Salon is committed to serving the needs of New Haven and the community as a whole.
“We want a family, we want a community,” he said. “When we first came here we had our windows smashed and we were robbed … Now look at it”.
The salon offers services such as hair care, waxing, manicures, pedicures, sauna treatment, facials, detoxifying wraps and massages.