The historic Richter’s bar, just a stone’s throw away from Yale’s campus at 990 Chapel St., may be reopening after more than a year of closure.
A sign on the door of the Richter’s location, which was issued on Nov. 19, 2012 by the City of New Haven Building Department, reads “Permission to Start Work.” The box next to “building” is checked and the comment section reads, “Exploratory Demo to former ‘Richter’s.’”
New Haven Building Department Deputy Building Inspector Daniel O’Neill said that the “exploratory demo” permit, which allows holders to clean out the interior of the space in preparation for renovation, was taken by West Haven-based Red Rooster Construction, a company that specializes in commercial and institutional building construction.
The bar has a long history in New Haven. It opened in 1858 as a part of the New Haven House Hotel and continued to serve drinks to the New Haven community through Prohibition when the bar was used as a speakeasy. It eventually closed in 1972 and was reopened in 1983 by a Yale grad, Richter Elser ’81. The bar featured oakwood paneling and a 23-point moose head that Richter Elser’s grandfather shot in 1908.
In response to slowed business, the bar closed on June 25, 2011, though the spot seemed to have immediate promise. In August 2011, the owners of the bar 116 Crown announced plans to renovate and reopen the old Richter’s location. As late as December 2011, they planned to reopen the bar “before the snow melts.” But in May, the New Haven Independent reported that John Ginnetti, one of the owners of 116 Crown, was evicted for nonpayment of rent, and the location remained empty.
Now there is hope the property will reopen under new management. The owner of Caseus, Jason Sobocinski, was seen touring the location, though when contacted, Sobocinski said he has no comment at this time.
Today, the vacant building sits next to the newly opened Shake Shack.