Fans of Thali Too and Mexican food alike will soon have a new eating option.
Oaxaca Kitchen, which will open in January, is the brainchild of Prasad Chirnomula, who owns Thali Too and six other restaurants in Connecticut. Located at 228 College St., Oaxaca will combine local ingredients and clean presentations to serve “gourmet Mexican cuisine,” Chirnomula said, and will be the first non-casual Mexican restaurant leased from University Properties. The name of the restaurant comes from Oaxaca state in Southern Mexico which is “known for its seven moles [sauce] like New Haven is known for its pizza,” he added.
“It’s not run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex. It’s authentic cuisine,” Chirnomula said. “We will be using fresh vegetables from local farmers’ markets,” he added. “We’ve studied the history, the background of the cuisine.”
Oaxaca will have a full service bar, he added.
“The Mexican theme goes well with beverages,” he said.
After Chirnomula receives the key from University Properties on Friday, the building will be under construction for the next eight weeks.
Oaxaca will be Chirnomula’s second restaurant on a Yale University Properties. His first restaurant leased from University Properties was the vegetarian Indian restaurant Thali Too.
When he was first approached by University Properties to create Thali Too in early 2008, Chirnomula said he was not sure if he wanted to open another restaurant. But when he saw the location behind Morse and Stiles, the high ceilings and proximity to Broadway shopping, he said was sold within 10 minutes.
“They’re smart operators – they want to bring in quality chefs and quality food, and they were nothing but welcoming,” Chirnomula said of University Properties.
Chirnomula said that he has enjoyed working with University Properties and there are many benefits to being a tenant of University Properties. He noted how Thali Too has gained exposure and price promotions, hosted Yale events and certain parties and is included in college books and brochures as a result of the connection with University Properties.
When opening his second restaurant in New Haven, he approached University Properites about renting the location on College Street, said Abigail Rider, Associate Vice President and Director of University Properties.
“His unique expertise and careful attention to details … means that Oaxaca Kitchen will be a great addition,” she added. Already designs have been laid out for the interior and exterior. He said he plans to build a bar and outdoor patio as well as to renovate the outside. She added that Chirnomula’s experience working with University Properties on Thali Too in the Broadway District was the catalyst to expand to a second University Properties location.
Although several New Haven business such as Panache Hair Salon and Kerin have recently closed, Chirnomula said he is not too worried about the tough economic climate.
“No matter what happens to the economy, New Haven will be on the upswing thanks to Yale,” he said.
He added that he was confident in the concept of his new restaurant.
“I think I have a winner. Time will tell,” Chirnomula said.
For those interested in cooking themselves, Chirnomula is currently working on a cookbook that will contain recipes for Indian food, Indian vegetarian food, and Oaxacan-style food.
And for students looking for a part-time job, Oaxaca is hiring. Chirnomula said he was “absolutely” interested in hiring Yalies.
University Properties leases to over 20 restaurants in New Haven.