Following the arrival of Shake Shack last month and the announcement of Chipotle Mexican Grill last week, a Panera Bread bakery-cafe will join the two on Chapel Street when it takes the place of News Haven.
Panera is replacing News Haven, a specialty boutique selling national and international newspapers and magazines, which will close Oct. 15. The rise of the Internet has hurt News Haven, and the store will not reopen in a new location, said John Wareck — owner of Wareck Real Estate, which manages the property
“For a long time, New Haven had a bad rap. It wasn’t accurate,” said Wareck, adding that the city has seen major improvements in the last 15 years. “I think [food chains moving into New Haven] is a trend: clearly, the national food companies realize that New Haven is a great place to do business.”
Navin Jani, who has owned News Haven since 2000, said he disagrees with Wareck’s statement that the Internet has hurt his business. Though he said he has noticed a slight downturn in business in the past four years, he added that he still has over 100 regular and loyal customers every day. Full articles often cannot be found online, and his store offers a wide array of international papers that people from all over Conn. come to buy, he said.
But Wareck’s refusal to renew News Haven’s lease did not come as a surprise, especially after five to six months of legal battles with Wareck’s company to extend the lease, Jani said.
“When the big guy comes, the small guy has to go,” Jani said.
Despite the influx of fast food chains like Panera, Shake Shack and Chipotle, Wareck said he does not foresee an end to New Haven’s local, specialty food stores.
“I will never stop eating Claire’s Lithuanian coffee cake,” he said.
Abigail Rider, associate vice president and director of University Properties, told the News in an email that the recent arrivals of these businesses show that efforts to revitalize downtown have “borne fruit.” She added that 87 percent of businesses in New Haven still have local ties. “On the other hand, national and regional merchants have the marketing and brand to draw people from the suburbs (who otherwise might never come) into the city to enjoy the city’s cosmopolitan look and feel, which is important because the 50,000 students who study here are only here eight months of the year,” she said.
Of 13 students interviewed, four said they would definitely go to Panera. Two of them said they think Panera will provide students with a much-needed breakfast option around campus.
But others were not so enthusiastic. Ragini Luthra ’16 said she is worried that the mass arrival of fast food chains in the area will detract from the local New Haven feel.
Panera Bread was established in 1981 and currently operates 1,591 stores in 41 states and in Ontario, Canada.