Last breakfast at Copper Kitchen

After 40 years serving local residents and Yalies comfort food on the cheap, Copper Kitchen will cook up its last dishes Wednesday.

Bill Kalogeridis, who has owned the Chapel Street diner for 26 years, notified University Properties on Oct. 1 that he planned to leave by the end of the month if they were unable to agree on a lease. No agreement was reached and the restaurant will vacate as originally planned just a week after maintenance issues led to a carbon monoxide leak.

The Copper Kitchen, located on Chapel Street, will serve its last customers Wednesday, following disputes with University Properties over facility maintenance and equipment standards
The Copper Kitchen, located on Chapel Street, will serve its last customers Wednesday, following disputes with University Properties over facility maintenance and equipment standards

For Cat Morris ‘12, a tenant in the Townsend apartments, the news that carbon monoxide may have leaked into her apartment was concerning. And that it could have come from Copper Kitchen’s faulty water heater damaged Morris’s view of the restaurant that she ate at once a week and called a “staple” of her dining experience, she said.

“It just makes me feel a little uncomfortable with the safety standards they were upholding and the risk that they’re putting the tenants of the Townsend in,” Morris said. “But I think that I will miss it.”

Though he won’t be having any goodbye parties, Kalogeridis said many customers have expressed their sadness at the restaurant’s impending closure. They’ve told him they plan to come by tomorrow for one last meal and to say goodbye, he said.

“I wish I could do something,” Kalogeridis said. “Everybody’s upset, but what are they gonna do?”

But University Properties director Abigail Rider said Copper Kitchen is hardly a victim in this situation. The restaurant’s departure comes after years of disagreements over facility maintenance and equipment standards.

“Mr. Kalogeridis should look for a space where he and the property owner can agree on maintenance standards,” Rider wrote in an e-mail to the News. “This, despite our efforts, is something we have been unable to do.”

Rider’s critique was underscored last week when a faulty water heater leaked carbon monoxide, setting off alarms in the two floors above Copper Kitchen in the Townsend Apartments. In an e-mail to Townsend tenants, Elm Campus Partners’ managing partner Troy Resch reported that the restaurant’s water heater was “red tagged” last Monday by Southern Connecticut Gas, who shut off gas to the restaurant after the carbon monoxide incident.

But the next day the carbon monoxide alarm sounded again and inspectors found that the gas had been activated without notifying the gas company, Resch wrote.

Kalogeridis disputes these claims. He said he sought the help of a plumber as soon as he became aware of a problem, and that after the gas water heater set off the carbon monoxide alarm a second time, he replaced it with an electric water heater.

“They make this an excuse, but these things happen sometimes,” Kalogeridis said, referring to the water heater’s problems. “What am I supposed to do? I’m one person. I didn’t do it on purpose. The machines break sometimes.”

The new water heater cost Kalogeridis over $400, and he has yet to receive the bill from the plumber, he said.

When University Properties bought the property in 1998, Kalogeridis held a five-year lease that was renewed in 2000. Between 1998 and 2005, Rider wrote, University Properties grew concerned about the maintenance of Copper Kitchen, and in 2005 required that he make certain improvements to comply with state laws. Kalogeridis declined and instead paid rent on a monthly basis. In 2008, U.P. “went the extra mile” and offered a one-year lease to Kalogeridis that Rider said could have been extended if he had made promised repairs. Kalogeridis refused the lease because, as he said, “this is a restaurant, not an apartment.”

Kalogeridis said that he has no plans to reopen at a new location.

Comments

  • MsMoneypenny

    When University Properties buys a building, it’s bye bye mom and pop shops, hello corporate hoity-toity-ness. Happened on Broadway, happened on Audubon St., happens wherever they swoop in. I miss the old shops that were a staple of my college days at Yale that were displaced by boutiques and “upscale” restaurants that very few can afford to patronize.

  • RexMottram08

    University Properties has done an excellent job! Broadway was once a place undergrads feared to trod.

  • harbinger

    University Properties has done an excellent job! Broadway was once a place undergrads feared to trod.

    Now anywhere Yale owns property is a place city residents fear to enter.

  • RexMottram08

    harbinger,

    It is Yale students who are unsafe just a few blocks away from campus. See: gun violence.

  • Yaleman

    What about The Yankee Doodle?

  • MsMoneypenny

    There were fewer incidents of muggings, etc. on Broadway and environs when I was an undergrad than there are now so your argument about undergrads being afraid to walk in those areas in the past is baloney. And replacing established old shops with TOO upscale businesses does NOT make it any safer. University Properties has totally stripped different areas of mom and pop shops, affordable restaurants, etc.

  • RexMottram08

    A property manager will consider a host of issues when soliciting new tenants.

    Yale is nothing if not a shrewd businesswoman. She clearly has decided that upscale retail fits the long term goals of the property.

    You are free to make the case that current tenants do not satisfy these long term goals, but you cannot do so based on populist sentimentality and nostalgia.

  • OldBlue71

    In 1971, during the labor strike that lasted from April through graduation in June, the college dining rooms all closed and Yale reimbursed students for the remainder of their meal contracts at the rate of $3.35 per day. The Copper Kitchen was one of many places my friends and I gathered for dinner. At that time the menu featured a meal of three strips of steak, bread, potatoes, and salad — for $1.90.

    Over the years, whenever I have returned for reunions, I have always included a trip to the Copper Kitchen. On my last visit, I spoke with Bill Kalogeridas and he discussed his problems with the university. I had hoped they would be resolved and that I could enjoy the experience once again at my 40th reunion next year. But, alas, time and change (not to mention upscale retail) does often avail. I’m glad to see so many current students share my pleasant memories of the Kitchen and my regrets at seeing another Yale landmark disappear.

  • whatever

    Just some comments on the article, from a graduate student…

    1.) Who of you would ever invest money in a shop were you have a lease for only 1 year?

    2.) Where can you actually eat in New Haven with the stipend of a grad student? There isn’t even a supermarket around anymore!

    3.) Do you people really believe that bringing all these crappy art galleries, boutiques and “fancy” restaurants (most of which are terrible) improves the image of New Haven? In fact I believe that this sudo-sophisticated image keeps away a lot of intelligent and creative people (you know engineers, scientists and generally people that will later bring money in…)

    4.) Elm Campus should first start maintaining the buildings they manage (e.g., maintain the 3 laundries for 100 people at Prospect that actually never work) and then make comments about others…

    5.) What can anyone say about Yale corporation. Yes, they are very successful financially! But they have completely forgotten that this is a NON-FOR-PROFIT organization that they are managing. I guess when you want to get your bonus you don’t really care about small things like letting people go or annoying researchers with a million different ways. After all Yale is a brand name right? It has nothing to do and it certainly does not need the people that work and study here…

  • Jaymin

    It’s all too easy to criticize University Properties with your idiotic romanticisms of “mom-and-pop” establishments, but you people need to get a grip. Copper Kitchen had egregious fire safety and health violations – for god’s sake, they were leaking carbon monoxide – and they refused to clean it up. They’re the villains in this story. If your inability to comply with basic safety standards compromises the health of the community, then you should be booted out!

    To the grad student

    1) They would have gotten a longer lease if they had the decency to comply with health and safety standards instead of blowing them off.

    2) There are PLENTY of cheap restaurants in New Haven (Est Est Est, Ivy Noodle, Samurai, Mahmoun’s, Pepe’s, Yorkside, Wall St. Pizza, Educated Burgher, Zaroka’s, India Palace, all of the food carts, etc). And for home cooking GO TO WALMART. The bus costs $1.25 each way and it’ll be much cheaper than Shaw’s ever was.

    3) Again, it’s not like these fancy places have taken over – there’s still plenty of cheap stuff around. Also, you’re overstating how much the University “brings” fancy places in. They’re only going to come if they legitimately see themselves making money here. And if they’re making money here, then that means there’s actually a market for this stuff and people actually want it.

    4) That’s not really a maintenance thing – the laundries work fine – you just want more of them. This is not analogous at all with Copper Kitchen.

    5) Yale may be not-for-profit, but it still needs to make profit to keep itself afloat and to “avoid letting people go or annoying researchers with a million different ways”. It’s in your best interest as a grad student that Yale makes as much money as possible.

    And don’t give me this crap about how the corporate fat cats are taking all the money. The university is very fairly run and money is appropriated well to the students. At the college, the money’s been used for badly-needed renovations of the residential colleges, generous financial aid, revamped health facilities, generous grants for international study, and generous amounts of money for student organizations. In the sciences, in the last decade alone, the University’s built TAC, Amistad, and purchased West Campus, all with amazingly modern research capital equipment. So I’d stop whining, if I were you.