Students looking for heath-bar mochas and green tea cheesecake will no longer have to venture beyond the confines of central campus.
Sushi on Chapel will take the place of former tenant Rainbow Cafe at 1022 Chapel St., and Woodland Coffee & Tea will open just up the street in Sherman’s Alley. The two additions are scheduled to open their doors by early April, Director of Marketing for University Properties Shana N. Schnieder ’00 said.
Both restaurants are second fronts for existing businesses. Brian Graham and his partner Chen Joo, the owners of Sushi on Chapel, opened Wasabi Japanese Restaurant in North Branford two years ago. Schneider said Graham contacted University Properties to discuss opening a second restaurant closer to Yale’s campus.
Given the success he has enjoyed with Wasabi, Graham said he is eager to expand into the Elm City. Wasabi serves both unorthodox and traditional sushi and tempura; popular menu offerings have included tuna pizza, spicy girl roll and uni with quail egg sushi.
Berkeley College Master Marvin Chun, who last Wednesday catered a reception for cognitive science majors with hand-made sushi from Wasabi, said he looks forward to the opening of a similar restaurant closer to central campus.
“Wasabi is my favorite sushi restaurant in the area,” he said, “so I’m very excited to hear that the owners will open a restaurant in such a perfect location.”
Graham said he anticipates opening the restaurant around the end of February — the “Coming Soon” sign above the Chapel Street storefront has been posted for weeks. Also posted is the “permit requested” sign. He plans on incorporating a full liquor bar to the restaurant, he said, and hopes to draw a student crowd with his sake martinis.
“For a lot of people,” he said, “alcohol is a reprieve.”
Although he was unaware that a new sushi restaurant would be opening nearby, Bun Lai, owner and head chef at Miya’s sushi restaurant on 68 Howe St., said he welcomes the potential new competitor.
“I don’t know the meaning of competitive,” he said. “I do my own thing. … But I would eat there all the time if I didn’t have my own sushi place.”
He applauded Yale’s efforts to bring in new businesses to the area, saying that it helps the city attract shoppers, theater-goers and, most important to Lai, diners from out of town.
Schneider said the Chapel Street area, which University Properties markets as a historic district, with its boutique-like feel and higher-end restaurants, has helped make New Haven a “dining destination” for people in the surrounding area.
Chun agreed, saying the diversity of ethnic food offerings lends the Elm City a cosmopolitan feel.
“New Haven is like having 10 blocks of Manhattan,” he said.
Nebyat Shewaye, owner of Woodland Coffee & Tea, currently serves breakfast, lunch and coffee throughout the day from his primary storefront with the same name on 97 Orange St., in the Ninth Square. He said he is excited to be opening a second location more accessible to Yale’s lively student population, and he looks forward to adding to the diversity of restaurants on Chapel Street.
Despite the recent closing of breakfast joint Yankee Doodle Coffee & Sandwich Shop not far from his soon-to-be location, Shewaye said he is not looking to fill the void the iconic diner may have left when it shut down.
“We are a different type of restaurant,” Shewaye said, gesturing to the menu on the wall behind him at the Orange Street cafe.
The menu at the Orange Street location includes breakfast items such as sun-dried tomato omelettes for $5.50 and bagels with Nutella and peanut butter for $2.25. Shewaye said he is proud of the more than 100 loose teas he has in stock, which are displayed in metal cylinders along the wall. The restaurant offers a range of unusual drinks, including energy shakes, “Razmatazz” fruit smoothies, Snicker-bar lattes and fresh juices — such as an orange, carrot and ginger blend.
Shewaye said he plans to open by the end of March.