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.
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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.