Chapel Street is about to welcome two new businesses, a continuation of the University’s effort to revitalize the downtown area.
Elm City Fine Stationers, which will occupy the lower level of 1020 Chapel St., is scheduled to open this Friday, and Basta!, an Italian restaurant located at 1006 Chapel St., will open in mid to late November. The opening of these two stores serves to continue Yale’s trend of focusing on local independent entrepreneurs in its community investment program.
Director of University Properties David Newton said that local, independent stores occupy all but five of the 75 retail spaces leased by University Properties.
“Small business entrepreneurs are really a priority for us,” Newton said. “We are very excited about both of these stores, and I think they will do terrifically.”
Elm City Fine Stationers is moving into the space previously occupied by the women’s clothing store Maxine’s before the retailer moved down the street. The only stationery store in downtown New Haven, the shop will also specialize in boutique gift items and leather goods. It will also offer a variety of paper goods, including personalized invitations and fine writing accessories.
Owners Sal Esposito and Ellie Iannuzzi have over 60 years of collective experience in the business. Esposito owns two stationery stores in Branford, and Iannuzzi, along with her husband, owns TYCO in New Haven.
Iannuzzi said she saw a demand for a stationery store in New Haven because she received calls at TYCO inquiring about greeting cards. When Esposito approached her with the idea, she eagerly accepted.
“The great thing about this store is that because Sal has two businesses in Branford and I have one in New Haven, we are hoping to bring both the suburban and the city populations together,” Iannuzzi said.
Basta! will be located adjacent to Claire’s Corner Copia and is owned by the same couple. Owners Claire and Frank Criscuolo have run Claire’s, a vegetarian and kosher eatery, for nearly 30 years. Basta! will continue the Criscuolos’ philosophy of providing fine dining that uses only environmentally friendly ingredients from local organic and sustainable farms, the Criscuolos said. But because the restaurant will be serving both meat and alcohol, Claire Criscuolo said she is excited she and her husband will be able to experiment with new dishes and a broader dining crowd.
“My customers at Claire’s used to say that if I just served a little bit of chicken, they would eat there every day,” she said. “So now for those people who do eat chicken, we will try to make sure they eat the best and the healthiest chicken.”
Featuring a Southern Italian menu inspired by the Criscuolos’ background in the region, Basta! will offer full-table service at prices only slightly higher than those at the Criscuolos’ original restaurant. Frank Criscuolo, who, unlike his wife, is not a vegetarian, will act as executive chef of Basta!
Town Green Special Services District Executive Director Scott Healy said the fact that owners who already run businesses in New Haven are opening more stores shows a level of confidence in downtown New Haven and its ability to support local businesses.
“People are rediscovering New Haven in ways that you could not have imagined just a few years ago, which makes it possible not only to open that store they’ve always dreamed about but to thrive and expand,” Healy said.
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