Joe has returned.
The much-loved bartender, formerly of TJ Tuckers Restaurant and Pub, is back behind the bar and serving drinks at the same location, but in a new restaurant.
Olde Blue Publick House, Joe’s new home, will open for business today at 4 p.m. after nearly three months of renovations, said Helen Odell, one of three partners running the restaurant. The popular karaoke enjoyed by Tuckers patrons will not be back — at least not immediately — but drink specials are still on the menu, although the precise details have yet to be determined.
The restaurant will also feature such college fare as wraps and pizza.
Odell said she hopes Olde Blue will attract a mixture of students, alumni, visitors and area residents.
“We did spruce it up a bit, but I feel it’s still comfortable,” Odell said. “You can come in wearing your jeans. You can come in wearing your softball uniform.”
Odell said the restaurant’s logo, depicting the Yale fence and Handsome Dan, demonstrates what she hopes Olde Blue will become: a place like the fence where people can mingle and come together and where people wearing both business suits and T-shirts will feel equally comfortable.
“I love the idea of a meeting place,” Odell said. Aesthetically, the restaurant has been significantly renovated. The interior boasts new carpeting and a new blue- and cream-colored decor, as well as mahogany wood features. The new owners also refinished the entryway to the restaurant.
The Colony Inn, the hotel that adjoins the restaurant, is more separate from Olde Blue than it was in the past from TJ Tuckers.
The lower level of the restaurant now has a row of booths against the wall and tables by the windows. On the upper level, there is a new bar in the same place the old one was at Tuckers, surrounded by high top tables. Odell said they designed the bar area to be spacious and to make socializing easier.
“You know you can meet with 10 friends here because there’s plenty of room,” Odell said.
While a partition can be put in place to separate the bar from the seating in the upper level, Odell said this would not be used often. The upper-level room contains a big-screen television, where patrons will soon be able to watch Yale sporting events taped from the previous week.
One of the things that drew many students to Tuckers was its drink specials. Odell and Joe promised this practice will continue at the new restaurant, though the exact specials had not yet been determined.
Another large draw, karaoke, is off the menu for the time being. Odell said the Colony Inn management was somewhat opposed to it. During karaoke nights at TJ Tuckers, the hotel had to refrain from charging its guests for their rooms because of noise complaints.
“We’re working on that,” Odell said.
Olde Blue will be open from 7 a.m to 1 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. It will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night until midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m on weekends. The menu includes burgers, wraps, pizza and pricier dishes such as filet mignon.
Alex Elsankaly, the owner of nearby Chaps Grille, said he did not feel threatened by the opening of Olde Blue since he had regular customers. He said it probably would not have a big effect on his business but hoped it would be beneficial.
“Hopefully it will draw more people to the area,” Elsankaly said.
Previous restaurants have had difficulty at Olde Blue’s location, but for now Joe is firmly back behind the bar.
“The special is me,” Joe said.