New Haven’s Unsung Notables

Adam Juarez, patron saint of all things G-Heav, should have his own poster.

Meryl Streep’s face adorns the exposed brick of Miya’s exterior. Paul Giamatti smirks between Chapel and York. Dr. Benjamin Spock holds up a baby on one out-of-the-way wall, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. stares down New Haven’s citizens from a height on Howe. Chapel West Services recently launched a campaign of “New Haven Notables” — stylized portraits of accomplished locals from throughout city history, immortalized (though perhaps not weather-proofed) on the sides of various businesses and municipal structures. WEEKEND put out a call for those lesser-known figures — your unsung New Haven heroes. You responded… in growls and gurgles, from the digestive tract. Yale’s stomachs have spoken. Here, then, are primarily the gate-keepers to eating well — the good men and women between you and your next hot meal. Also a celebrity canine.

Yorkside’s Anthony Koutroumanis

//BY AAMINAH QADIR

I walked into Yorkside Pizza in search of the smiling face we see every Saturday night, the one that belongs to the man who hands out free Yorkside T-shirts to the most frequent goers: Anthony Koutroumanis, ever happy to see me.

Anthony has spent 42 of his 72 years of life at Yorkside, putting calories, grease, and — more than any of these — love, into the food he has served to Yalies for many a time more than our lifespans.

Shy of the limelight, Anthony co-owns Yorkside Pizza with his brother George Koutroumanis. He doesn’t like to take credit for his hard work, but upon getting him to sit with me, he revealed many historical Yorkside secrets. (For instance, who knew they’re not actually splitting their profits with Toad’s?)

The diner we see today sprung up in 1977 — but it wasn’t always situated where it is now. Anthony’s first place was around the corner from a popular pizza joint that stood where Urban Outfitters stands today. Imagine: it was that far from Toad’s. Only there was no Toad’s in New Haven then. (Which is how we know, officially, the two aren’t actually working in cahoots.) In place of Toad’s, there stood a club set up by four Ivy Leaguers, one of whom was Johnny Carson. The former Yorkside was called Broadway Pizza Palace and started in 1970, with only about 15 to 20 items on the menu.

Anthony recalls that Toad’s came around in about 1973 — so after he was on the block. While he admits that Toad’s gives the business an extra boost, he said they “wouldn’t shut down if Toad’s did. You know?” We see Anthony so often on Toad’s nights because his major shifts are on Saturday and Sunday. You’d wonder why he would pick the busiest nights to work, when rowdy, obnoxious and rather disoriented Yalies and Qpac-ers hit the diner, hard. Even he asked, “Why would I come here, at this age, on those nights?” His answer to himself: “It’s the people. I love them.” So Yalies can take some consolation in knowing that Anthony loves us in all shapes and forms — at all times.

Speaking of forms and shapes, Yorkside has contributed to the alteration of many body forms. This might be because its menu has evolved from the modest 20 or so items to over 100. Back in the day, they specialized in meatballs, sauces and pizzas, but today they sell seafood, scallops and pasta as well. When asked what his most popular item is, Anthony proudly said, “The Greek Salad.” The reason for the move in popularity from pizzas to salads is clear: When Yorkside set up there were only about 500 girls on campus. “Now? There are more girls then boys!” said Anthony. This is not to say all us women are healthy eaters, because someone has to eat the yummy gyros and the irresistible mouse track milkshake (me). Yorkside has grown notoriously famous for its scrumptious milkshake, which is lined with Reese’s at the bottom and mixed with all else that is unhealthy and delicious in the world.

Koutroumanis: We apologize for our late-night belligerence, and thank you for your kindness. Here’s to many more generations of Yorkside!

Louis’s Lunch’s Jeffrey Lassen

//BY MAYA AVERBUCH

Jeffrey Lassen, the owner of Louis’s Lunch, has been working behind the counter at one of New Haven’s most historic eateries for the last 33 years. A serious, no-nonsense guy, he keeps the luncheonette his great-grandfather opened in 1895 up and running, producing the same five-meat hamburger sandwiches in the self-same, original stoves.

“I do everything — and I do mean everything, from cleaning the restrooms to locking the door, and anywhere in between,” he said while chopping onions. “My father always told me that if we were going to hire somebody, you had to do all the chores you had them do, because then you would know what [the work] entailed. They could say, ‘Well, you never did that,’ and I could say, ‘Oh yes, I did.’”

The diner has come a long way since its opening days, when Louis served steak dinners, but it maintains the same decor, with small wooden booths and brick walls. Portraits of its previous owners hang on the walls, but Jeffrey says his portrait is not going up until he is “up there.” He hopes Louis’s Lunch will keep on running, though he cannot predict whether his son, who is now three years old, will want to work there.

Jeffrey once hoped to be a baseball player, but he likes the work in his family business. “It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s very time-consuming, but you get your rewards: meeting people every year, forming friendships, maintaining family ties.”

And he gets to eat a hamburger sandwich — every single day.

G-Heav’s Adam Juarez

//BY LEAH MOTZKIN

“Adam! What’s up, buddy?” “Adam, how’s it going, brother?” “Sup, Adam? I hate studying.” “Interview? You’re gonna be famous, Adam!” Every person who walks into G-Heav has something to say to the store’s legendary frontman. As it seems most Yale students end up in G-Heav at least once during the day and once after midnight, manager Adam Juarez comments, “I know most of the students at Yale, and I like them.” Adam has dealt with Yalies in all sorts of situations — at their best (“They treat me very well during the weekdays”) and lowest points (“On weekends, after drinks, there’s sometimes trouble”).

Students can be very demanding of Adam, always introducing themselves and expecting him to remember them. Adam loves, however, whenever he is able to remember a name, because the students are always so glad about it.

While Adam considers many Yale students to be his friends, he recalls one of the weirdest nights he’s spent at G-Heav, when some students crossed the line. On a slow night about three years ago, a group of students dressed up as burglars — replete with bandanas over their faces — and filmed his reaction to their “robbing” him. Adam comments, “I thought it was real until they said, ‘Adam, we got you!’” While he was freaked out in the moment, Adam is a pretty chill guy. He said he understands that it was a prank that happened around Halloween time — though the students claimed it was for a class. After many apologies and hugs, Adam forgave them.

You may always end up at G-Heav with the late-night munchies, but Adam Juarez is always already there. Therefore, it’s only natural that the sandwiches he makes are clearly better than yours. They’re bigger, too. Adam says that the sandwiches he makes himself often look so big and good that he ends up giving bites to students who ask. “So what’s on the typical ‘Adam’ sandwich?” the inquisitive reader wonders. He reveals all: “Though it’s different every night, typically I like egg whites, chicken, Brie, onions, and avocado.”

Sally’s Apizza’s Flora “Flo” Consiglio

//BY MAYA AVERBUCH

The former owner of Sally’s Apizza, Flo Consiglio, who passed away on Monday, Sept. 24, is remembered as one of New Haven’s most beloved residents, and not simply for the cheesy pies she produced. Described as a little tough on strangers, but warm toward Sally’s regulars, she made delicious thin-crust, brick-oven pizza for patrons from all over, including politicians and celebrities.

For decades, Flo sat behind the cash register and talked to members of her New Haven community, making many of them feel like family, they say. She opened her doors to the Cottos, the first Puerto Rican family in Wooster Square, and to many of the city’s children, several of whom worked for Flo and her husband, Sal.

In an interview with the New Haven Independent, President of St. Andrew Ladies Society Theresa Argento said, “You’ve lost a legend.”

Branford’s “Ms. Michelle”

//BY LEAH MOTZKIN

Looking good from her frosted tips to her revolutionary acrylics, Michelle is the first person you want to see when you walk in the Branford Dining Hall. Michelle never fails to make you smile as she swipes your ID card. Sometimes cracking jokes, always asking after students’ well-being, Michelle’s genuine care for the students in Branford is constantly on display. She has become a “mother away from home,” she says, for the students who pass through her hall’s doors.

A New Haven native, Michelle began working at Yale 13 years ago and has worked in Branford for the past four. She has four children of her own — though 400 more claim her. You may have seen her adorable grandchildren visiting her in the dining hall.

Julius Mitchell BR ’13 says of this maternal figure, “Any time I walk in the dining hall, I can always expect a warm welcome and good conversation from Ms. Michelle. In my four years here, she’s never let me pass by her without telling her how I’m doing.” When freshman timidly hand her their ID cards for the first time in August, she immediately steadies them and makes them feel at home. [Ed.’s note: The author of this piece is one such freshman … ]

Making such close connections with students is sometimes hard on Michelle, who has witnessed four years of seniors graduate and leave campus. She does say, however, that many come back to visit. They know where to find her. If you intend to become a Branford regular, look forward to seeing her smile every morning — probably in a different shade of lipstick each day. – Leah Motzkin

Give This Dog a Break — Put Him on a Wall

//BY YUVAL BEN-DAVID

Game over. Handsome Dan, 17. Dalai Lama, 14.

Dan — who, according to his profile on the athletic department website, “retrieves with vigor” — has been reincarnated three more times than the great monk.

That’s 17 Yale mascots since 1889, when a British student, Andrew Graves, bought the original from a New Haven blacksmith for $5. Nowadays he sits, stuffed, above the trophies in Payne Whitney. The dog, that is — not Graves.

And as for Dan, it’s been a dog’s life lately, with few trophies in sight.

To start with, the boys of Sigma Phi Epsilon violated the fall rush guidelines by taking in Sir Jackson Margaritaville Wasserman — a golden retriever with the self-promotional skills of certain Yale undergraduate publications. Dan’s pretty smug about the rumors that Jackson isn’t yet potty-trained, but that’s just because he’s bitter about being elbowed out of Rumpus’s “50 Most Beautiful” Issue. Again.

But Dan’s biggest beef is with the undergraduate admissions office, which he says is “exploiting” his brand.

While the first Handsome Dan was treated to a world tour with its keeper, #17 got a rougher deal. When the international admissions officers recently set out on their international jaunt, they substituted the latest Dan with a stuffed animal.

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