New healthy option opens on Audubon

Yalies now have a new healthy eating option on Audubon St.

The Pure Health Lounge, which offers healthy-eating options including sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies and frozen yogurt, celebrated its opening at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning. Around 50 people visited the store, located at 99 Audubon St., which is now in its third week of operation. Pure Health the third business to open in the Aubudon/Whitney area this academic year, joining Katalina’s Bakery on Whitney Avenue and the Luvena Leslie Salon on Audubon Street.

“The ribbon-cutting ceremony was packed,” said co-owner Ray Sbrega. “A lot of people came, including many dignitaries.”

Attendees at the event included Abigail Rider, director of Yale University Properties, Anthony Rescigno, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Tony Bialecki, deputy director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, and Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen ’04.

Pure Health, which opened on Jan. 3, has already attracted a steady following of regular customers, Sbrega said. Their current customer base is composed of local residents and members of the downtown business sector who frequent the store mid-day, said Sbrega, adding that they will work on expanding their breakfast and evening clientele.

Now that students are back from winter break, Pure Health plans to reach out more to Yale’s campus, added co-owner Patty Sbrega, who is also Ray Sbrega’s wife. Pure Health has been working with the Yale Event Management Association (YEMA) — an undergraduate organization that promotes local businesses — on a marketing strategy.

“Once the kids find out we’re here, I think it’ll really boost business,” said Ray.

The YEMA has helped to plan a day-long promotional event that will take place on Friday and include discounts, tastings, smoothie-making demonstrations and a raffle, said Patty Sbrega. Although the store is “a little far” from campus, YEMA co-president Lucy Chen said, YEMA’s past events in the area like its recent kick-off at Katalina’s Bakery have drawn large crowds. Chen added that she expects the number of customers to increase as the weather improves.

The Audubon Street Pure Health Lounge is the store’s first franchise in Connecticut, although there are nine other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Sbregas began looking into franchises two years ago, said co-owner Patty Sbrega, and chose Pure Health for its healthy vibe.

The Sbregas selected the Aubudon location due to its proximity to the Yale School of Music, the Whitney Humanities Center, the ACES Magnet School and the downtown community. Pure Health, which moved into a Yale University Properties-owned building, is part of the recent trend of growth in the Audubon/Whitney Arts and Retail District that University Properties hopes to continue, said Yale University Properties marketing and promotions coordinator Brittney Lipsett in an email to the News Tuesday afternoon.

“University Properties is actively working to fill vacancies in the Audubon/Whitney Arts and Retail District,” said Lipsett in the email. “There has been an increase in interest for the area due to the new retail additions including Luvena Leslie Salon, Katalina’s Bakery, Elm City Artists and Pure Health Lounge.”

Ray Sbrega said he is confident that the store fits in well with other businesses on the street, as each one has its own specialty.

Matthew Osborne, a New Haven resident who visited the store for the first time Tuesday, said he does not think the store needs to worry about competition in the area.

“This place seems unique,” he said. “There’s no place that concentrates on juices the way they do here and it’s a great addition to the community of café options.”

Pure Health Lounge is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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