Copper Kitchen may close its doors

foyer_copperkitchen-2
Photo by Emilie Foyer.

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.

Comments

  • AlumO4

    No! The Copper Kitchen is one of the few places that serves as a genuine meeting place for town and for gown–go in there at 8.30 am and you’ll see cops, seniors, politicians, Yalies, professors, construction workers, and secretaries. It’s one of the last genuine, old-school eateries around Yale. Obviously they should adhere to the fire code, but University Properties should do more to make sure they feel secure in their lease. Plus, if this place closes, where else are you going to get a sit-down meal for under $5.00 within two blocks of campus?

  • willthefirst

    Copper Kitchen is homey, spunky, and cheap, and is made for college students. I`d take it over a frozen-yogurt/starbucks/pizza-hut/taco-bell combo restaurant, covered in whipped cream.

  • MsMoneypenny

    If this happens, here comes another overpriced specialty restaurant/boutique/etc- aka “quality tenant”- that nobody can afford. First Yankee Doodle, then Clark’s Dairy, now this. University Properties, please get a clue- everybody can’t afford $20 meals every time we go out to eat in New Haven! None of the “quality tenants” on Audubon St, once a thriving area, have survived. (prime example: Salon whateveryoucallit? I’d opt for a barber shop.) I take my shopping elsewhere.

    I miss the mom and pop vitality of New Haven in the ’80s. So glad I attended Yale then and not now.

  • Yalie

    University Properties had nothing to do with the Doodle.

  • Flight191

    YUP has GOT to be tough on New Haven businesses. How else could Dick Levin get that (much deserved?) $350,000. bonus????

    191

  • yaleperson

    Go to Patricia’s Restaurant on Whalley Ave. They have breakfast for 3.50 cents. I’ve been to copper kitchen once and their meals are fine but not as good as Patricia’s.

  • RexMottram08

    Patricia’s is seconded!

  • Yaleundergrad2011

    Yale needs to do more to support local businesses. It’s so frustrating that YUP wouldn’t support a local business that has been around so long and that students clearly love.

  • Goldie08

    This was the first place I ever ate in New Haven. Back then the breakfast special was $1.25 and I think that was 2001

  • FailBoat

    > It’s so frustrating that YUP wouldn’t support a local business that has been around so long and that students clearly love.

    Why is Copper Kitchen’s hypothetical replacement inferior to Copper Kitchen?

  • Flight191

    Why is Copper Kitchen’s hypothetical replacement inferior to Copper Kitchen?

    * Posted by FailBoat on October 12, 2010 at 5:31 p.m

  • Flight191

    woops…I meant to say….
    ….because the last thing New Haven needs is ANOTHER useless, over-priced boutique.
    191

  • AlumO4

    Because, FailBoat, Copper Kitchen is genuine and authentic. There’s no targeted marketing, no gimmicks, no demographic surveys; there is nothing cutesy about Copper Kitchen. It makes its money providing good greasy-spoon food at a decent price. That’s why you actually see all kinds of people in there at the same time, not separated by profession or class or town-gown status. New Haven could use as much of that as it can get.

  • gzuckier

    This just in; Yale University Properties to close New Haven, space to be rented to local franchise of Mall of America.

  • toddtodd

    This is absolutely terrible news, if Copper Kitchen does end up closing. It’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it’s got character.

  • pc11

    Or, more likely, they will close the Copper Kitchen and, like so many other UP properties, they will be unable to find another tenant to fill the space. This sucks. Unlike Kerin or Wishlist, people actually go to Copper Kitchen.