Future of Rudy’s lot remains unclear

Yalies looking to enjoy late night beer, billiards or frites all under one roof will have to set their sights on Chapel Street in the fall.

Rudy’s Bar, the popular 76-year-old Elm Street watering hole, is preparing to close and move to the intersection of Chapel and Howe streets. Though owner Omer Ipek declined to give a precise date for when the memorabilia-clad watering hole will officially close on Elm Street, he told the New Haven Independent he plans to open the new bar sometime in October.

Emily Robichaud, a bartender at Rudy’s, said the bar did not want to leave its current location because of its proximity to Yale students in the downtown area.

“Leaving will change the feel of the area because Rudy’s made this corner a destination,” she said.

Ipek told the Independent the move comes in response to repeated requests over the past year by Hang Seng Inc., the company from which Ipek rents the Rudy’s building, for his establishment to leave. Hang Seng Inc. also owns the next-door Chinese take-out restaurant Main Garden.

Robichaud said that as Rudy’s lease approached its expiration, Hang Seng Inc. was not willing to offer the restaurant favorable renewal terms.

“Business is steady at Rudy’s,” Ipek told the Independent. “Main Garden wants to expand — that’s the only reason [for Rudy's relocation].”

Employees interviewed at Main Garden earlier this month said they had “no idea” what HangSeng Inc. intended to do with the Rudy’s property given that there were “too many options” to discuss.

The president of Hang Seng Inc., Teun Pang Chan, speaking through a translator, said Hang Seng is in negotiations with a small group of people and companies interested in Rudy’s current location. Chan said the Hang Sent management is unable to comment further due to the ongoing negotiations.

Despite the move, Ipek aims to bring the feel of the original Rudy’s to Chapel Street, and with the new location comes opportunities for improvement. The new location is larger and will have three rooms, outdoor seating and two bars, with one room specifically designated for live entertainment, Robichaud said. Rudy’s will take over the space formerly occupied by the Indian-Vegetarian restaurant Ahimsa, the adjacent juice bar and part of the Chapel West office on Chapel Street.

Ipek, who owns two Belgian restaurants in Manhattan, also told the Independent the new bar will have more traditional Belgian food and beer options on its menu.

Robichaud added that the staff will move as much of the memorabilia as possible to the new space and have already begun removing some of it from the walls. She said it will not be possible to fit all of the decorations in the new location, but that the Rudy’s staff intends to transport the most iconic items, including a photo of Yale’s mascot, the bulldog, which is currently being restored.

The Facebook page for Rudy’s Bar says the owners will be sure to give the public “plenty of notice” before they officially decide to close and relocate.

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