Their scaffolding finally gone after 15 months of construction, Silliman College’s gray walls loom ominous and monolithic over the windows of Wall Street eateries. But the college’s recent re-opening has had anything but a uniform effect on surrounding businesses.
While some store managers said the end of renovation has increased business, others said they are still waiting for the students to return. Although there are several restaurants along the streets that surround the college, many Sillimanders said proximity is not necessarily tied closely to convenience. Instead, Silliman students said they often frequent their favorite restaurants regardless of location.
Many Yalies said high-quality gelato would draw them — even if the distance were greater.
But Ciao Bella manager Diana Flathers said students are flocking to the store in much greater numbers than last year. Students tend to come into the store during the mid-afternoon and after dinner, she said.
Flathers said her gelato parlor benefits from the after-dinner crowd coming out of Naples Pizza.
“People come in here with their pizza still,” she said.
But although ice cream may be a favorite after-pizza treat, Naples owner Rose Prifitera said she has not noticed much of a change from last year. The restaurant relies more on School of Music students than on undergraduates, she said.
“Most [undergraduate] classes are somewhere else,” she said.
The end of renovation also means there are no longer construction crews around all the time, she said.
Priti Patel, who owns Bread Star Bakery and Café — located between Naples and Ciao Bella — said construction workers were reliable customers while the renovations were going on last year. But she said she is confused by the recent lack of customers — business is now even worse now than during the renovation, she said.
“Construction was very good for business,” Patel said. “It still wasn’t great, but they’d come in for coffee … We are supposed to be busy [now]. We [are] expecting more students.”
Shana Schneider, director of communications for the University’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, said she expects business to continue to grow as more students use Wall Street, but the change will not necessarily be evident immediately.
“Businesses will have to figure out how to cater to the demographic on the street,” Schneider said.
Most of the handful of students who trickle into Bread Star these days are not Silliman students. Calhoun resident Kathryn O’Shaughnessy ’10, who grabbed a quick cup of coffee before section on Tuesday, said it was her first time in the bakery.
“I’d rather go to K2 or Starbucks,” she said. “I guess it’s about convenience.”
But other students said they are far more interested in ambiance and quality than proximity.
Silliman resident Emily Hoffman ’10 said she readily walks down to Koffee? on Audubon Street, even though it is several blocks farther away.
“I’m really glad we’re close,” Hoffman said. “It feels so much more out of the way, like part of a real community.”
Hoffman said she rarely frequents the shops on Wall Street. Few students in the area said they recognized Bread Star’s name or location. Danielle Delee ’10, who was sitting in Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea at the corner of Grove and Church streets, said the remaining bits of scaffolding covering Stoeckel Hall — located on the corner of College and Wall — make the street uninviting.
“I walk past [Bread Star] everyday, and I’ve never even seen it,” she said “There’s still that piece of construction you have to pass under.”