Summer changes shake up city retail

In its Chapel Street location next to Starbucks, Panera Bread will offer soups, sandwiches and salads.
In its Chapel Street location next to Starbucks, Panera Bread will offer soups, sandwiches and salads. Photo by Sarah Eckinger.

The past several months have seen a series of store openings and closures in New Haven, transforming the area around campus that students left in the spring.

The frozen yogurt market in New Haven has dramatically expanded with the additions of Go Greenly on 48 Whitney Ave., Polar Delight on 940 Chapel St. and Pinkberry soon to occupy the space next to Starbucks on Chapel Street. For soups and sandwiches, Panera Bread opened on 1048 Chapel St. in June, and Maison Mathis, a Belgian restaurant, will open on 304 Elm St. on Wednesday. Also this summer, Au Bon Pain, which used to occupy 1 Broadway St., and Enclave, a skateboarding shop on Broadway, closed their doors.

Each new site is preparing to bid goodbye to the summer lull in anticipation of the arrival of college students this week.

“We’re right next door to a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway, and they’ve all told us that it’s a bit of a madhouse when students come back,” said John Armstrong, the co-owner of Go Greenly.

Go Greenly is a self-serve yogurt destination that serves organic yogurt in 12 flavors that change on a weekly basis. Flavors include cake batter, cappuccino freddo, caramel apple and citrus burst. In addition to frozen yogurt, the store, which was founded in Scarsdale, N.Y., sells yogurt-based smoothies and bubble tea.

Opening July 13 on Chapel Street, Polar Delight is another self-serve destination for Yale students and New Haven residents. The store offers 11 nonfat and lowfat options, including French toast and Georgia peach, and four premium and sorbet flavors.

Santa-Monica based Pinkberry will open across the street from FroyoWorld by Oct. 1. Pinkberry differs from FroyoWorld in that it is full-service while FroyoWorld is self-serve. This difference in dessert styles will help mitigate the competition between the two frozen yogurt destinations, said William Bok, the owner of FroyoWorld.

Three years ago, FroyoWorld was the first self-serve frozen yogurt store in Connecticut, Bok said. Now it has been joined by four competitors: Go Greenly, Polar Delight, Pinkberry and Flavors on York Street.

“It’s the Wild West out there,” Armstrong said about the current froyo scene in New Haven.

Next door to Pinkberry’s future location, the smell of fresh-baked goods wafts from Panera Bread, which also opened this summer. The restaurant provides a spacious seating area where customers can eat soups, salads, sandwiches, bread and smoothies.

Maison Mathis, another restaurant soon to open in New Haven, will provide a similar dining experience to Panera but with a European twist.

In addition to soups, salads, sandwiches and coffee, the restaurant will serve Belgian waffles and Belgian beer. The local owners are Belgian natives who have connections to New Haven, which is why they decided to make the city the flagship location for Maison Mathis in the United States, said Carin Keane, the director of retail leasing and marketing for University Properties, or UP. She added that the restaurant will be open for breakfast and dinner, but that the exact store hours have not yet been released.

Maison Mathis is expected to have a similar menu and price range as Au Bon Pain, which will no longer be a coffee destination for students at the tip of Broadway Street. The restaurant closed in May after UP chose not to renew Au Bon Pain’s lease to make “necessary upgrades” to the space, UP said in a statement.

There are currently no tenants signed to occupy the spaces previously used by Enclave or Au Bon Pain, Keane said. However, she added that UP is actively seeking tenants and has seen much interest.

Maison Mathis’ local owners encouraged those that lost their jobs at Au Bon Pain in May to apply for jobs at Maison Mathis.

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