Just two months after the storied Chapel Street pub Richter’s closed its doors, three new owners plan to reopen it with a renewed focus on its history and its connection to Yale. John and Danielle Ginetti, the husband-wife duo who currently run the upscale bar-restaurant 116 Crown, signed on last month with a third unnamed partner to manage the new Richter’s. Though he does not have a timetable for the bar’s opening, John Ginetti said he hopes to open the bar this fall, once the historic space has seen significant renovations.
Richter’s closed this spring after months of speculation that it would shutter — Dieter von Rabenstein, who owned the bar for 10 years and worked there before that, said falling revenues amid the economic recession forced him to close Richter’s for only the second time in its 150-year history. Despite the bar’s past money woes, Ginetti said he is confident that the new bar will be financially stable.
“I’m not concerned,” Ginetti said. “In my mind, it works, or else I wouldn’t have taken it on.”
Founded in the mid-19th century, Richter’s has long been a staple of the Taft and of downtown New Haven nightlife. Long a favorite of Yale students that was well known for its specials on half-yards of beer, it survived Prohibition by operating as a speakeasy, Ginetti said, and thrived for years before closing in 1970. The bar remained out of business for a full decade. It was not until H. Richter Elser ’81 — the bar’s current namesake — discovered the spot by accident in 1982 that what was at the time known as the Taft Tap Room opened again. Ginetti said he hopes to build on this history, in part by restoring the pub’s woodwork.
“Whereas an Irish pub is a celebration of Ireland, or a British pub is a celebration of Britain, this place actually has history of its own and should be a celebration of itself,” Ginetti said.
He declined to say when the pub would open again, noting that there is “plentiful” work to finish before the bar starts serving up half-yards again. But locals are already excited about the prospect of a Richter’s revival.
“The bones of the place are really quite fantastic,” said Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, the University’s director of state communications and special initiatives and a former Ward 1 alderman. “It’s not as if you can really go in and do a radical makeover.”
Those bones are something Ginetti has said he hopes to preserve and build upon — he’s already received permission from Elser to keep the memorabilia that lined the walls of the old Richter’s.
“It’s kind of like an antique,” Ginetti said. “You don’t actually own Richter’s, you just pass it on.”
Ginetti did not say whether the new Richter’s will continue to offer half-priced half-yards of beer on Monday nights.