As one staple of New Haven’s nightlife prepares to reopen its doors, another favorite could cut off its tap before the summer’s over.
Rudy’s, a tavern that occupied the same Elm Street building for 76 years, will reopen on the corner of Chapel and Howe in early May, nearly a year after it closed its doors last summer. And while rumors have swirled that longtime Chapel Street haunt Richter’s will shutter its doors in the coming weeks, its owner said the bar will remain open.
Rudy’s left its Elm Street location last summer after disputes over the financial demands of its landlord, who also owns Main Garden. Though owner Omer Ipek originally planned to reopen Rudy’s in its new Chapel Street location last October, the plans slowed when construction workers discovered asbestos in the building, Rudy’s manager Emily Robichaud said. The asbestos has since been cleared, she added.
Meanwhile, a few blocks down Chapel, Richter’s will remain open at least through Commencement weekend and the reunion weekends in June, owner Dieter von Rabenstein said. But after several summers of bad business, von Rabenstein said he may have to leave the bar he’s worked at for nearly 25 years. He emphasized that nothing is set in stone yet, and declined to give details of the bar’s financial situation when interviewed yesterday.
Members of the Yale community account for at least 40 percent of business at Richter’s, so summers are always difficult for the bar, von Rabenstein said. But the past three years have been particularly difficult, and Richter’s may become yet another victim of the recession, he added. Still, this is all very preliminary, von Rabenstein said, so rumors that the bar is certain to close are exaggerated.
“I told my people times are tough. … [A]nytime you say anything along those lines, rumors start flying,” von Rabenstein said.
As Richter’s braces for a difficult summer, staff at Rudy’s are busy preparing to open in a few weeks. While the new restaurant will retain some elements of the old Rudy’s, such as a 1929 photograph of a football game at the Yale Bowl, it will be a “classier” establishment, Robichaud said.
“You can’t really recreate what Rudy’s was. We know that, and we don’t want to try, because Rudy’s was awesome,” Robichaud said. “There will be a lot of things from the old Rudy’s … but it’s going to be different, because it has to be.”
The menu will be expanded to include more Belgian cuisine, and the bar will feature 19 draught lines, 10 of which will be Belgian beers, Robichaud said. (Ipek, who has owned Rudy’s for nearly a decade, is Belgian, and also owns two Belgian restaurants in Manhattan.)
One thing that will not change, though, is the bar’s famous Belgian frites.
“We’re not going to touch the frites,” Robichaud said. “Same machine, same sauces.”