Bill Kalogeridis and his popular diner Copper Kitchen have been fixtures at 1008 Chapel St. for 26 years — but Kalogeridis may close his doors on Oct. 27 if he cannot secure the lease he wants from Yale.
Kalogeridis has come under fire from University Propertiesfor fire and health code violations. Kalogeridis has been renting the space on a month-to-month basis since 2006 when Yale purchased the property, said University Properties director Abigail Rider, and without the “reasonable” five-year lease he seeks, Kalogeridis said he plans to leave.
“This is Yale, Yale University — they don’t want to give me a lease,” Kalogeridis said as he sat in his near-empty establishment Monday afternoon.
Copper Kitchen has been criticized by University Properties for improperly maintaining its cooking grease traps, Rider said in an e-mail Monday, adding that failure to maintain the traps is a potential fire hazard to tenants in apartments above the lot and “has been a continuous problem” for the restaurant. The lease University Properties offered Kalogeridis in 2008 asked him to fix and maintain his equipment in accordance with Connecticut state law; in return, Rider said, University Properties would have considered offering a longer lease after the one-year lease expired.
“We are sad that Mr. Kalogeridis is so angry and hostile,” Rider said. “We’ve tried for the last five years to find common ground and work this out.”
When Yale initially purchased the property, Kalogeridis said he sought a five-year lease and promised to spend money on repairs if the lease were granted. Kalogeridis said he declined the one-year lease because he did not think it was worth investing the funds needed to fix and clean up his establishment with only 12 months guaranteed.
“I don’t want to spend the money because what if then they tell me to leave?” Kalogeridis said. “Then what do I do?”
Without a lease, Kalogeridis has paid approximately $3,500 in rent to Yale each month for the past four years, he said. But he stopped paying the rent this summer, after University Properties forced him to close Copper Kitchen for a week in June to repair the roof.
Rider wrote in her e-mail that Kalogeridis is now “seriously in arrears in his rent payments.”
Kalogeridis said he received a letter from University Properties in late May requesting that he close the restaurant within three days so the roof could be repaired. Upset by the short notice, Kalogeridis said University Properties’ request was the last straw.
“That’s when I decided I was going,” Kalogeridis said.
Rider said Kalogeridis announced his plans to vacate by the end of the month to University Properties on Oct. 1.
Kalogeridis said he does not know what he will do if Copper Kitchen should indeed close in a few weeks, but said he will “sit around and see what’s going to happen” in the meantime. The restaurant currently employs six people, including Kalogeridis.
Dakota Meyers ’13, who said he ate at Copper Kitchen about 15 times last year, was disappointed to learn the establishment may soon close.
“It was nice to have more of a real diner around,” Meyers said. “Other restaurants are nice, but they’re more of a pizzeria or family style. Copper Kitchen was more like an old-fashioned diner, which I liked.”
As for the property, Rider said she is confident University Properties will find a “quality tenant” to fill the space; a frustrated Kalogeridis said a boutique would likely open in Copper Kitchen’s place.
University Properties owns retail lots in the Chapel Street Historic, Broadway Shopping, Audubon Arts and Retail and Wall Street districts, in addition to the area near the Yale Medical School.