A new organic grill opened its doors on Church Street last week, seeking to meet a growing demand of health-conscious eaters in the Elm City.
Chick-Lets held its grand opening last Monday on 135 Church St., a spot previously occupied by Roly Poly Sandwiches. The restaurant aims to bring healthier food to the Elm City, with menu options including customized salads, wraps and sandwiches, as well as grilled chicken plates. Owner Alberto Giordano emphasized that his goal is to provide fast and casual meals at an affordable price, while still holding the meals to a high health standard.
“We have a very unique thing going here. We don’t do any frying, but the whole concept is fast, casual organic meals,” Giordano said.
Giordano said he first came up with the idea for the restaurant after he realized the importance of a healthy diet. As a runner and personal trainer, Giordano soon learned that an athlete’s diet can directly influence his physical performance — a realization that spurred a change in his own diet. With this mind-set, Giordano decided to open a restaurant with the same ideals.
Giordano said he chose to target New Haven because he believes it is a health-conscious city compared to others nearby.
“I open up in places where people are more sophisticated and educated about their health,” he said, citing other health-focused eateries in New Haven as proof that residents care about their diet.
Manager Marjorie Cancel of Claire’s Corner Copia, an organic restaurant that is a big hit amongst Yalies, holds a similar view. She explained that New Haven is becoming increasingly health-conscious as residents have begun to see the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
“We’re seeing a real push towards this style of restaurant lately,” Cancel said.
The increased demand for healthier cuisine options comes at an opportune moment for Giordano. In a recent New Haven Independent article about Giordano’s new restaurant, Giordano is quoted criticizing his daytime job at PrimePay, a corporate finance company. Giordano said the article resulted in his firing, since the company did not like his tone in the article.
Now, what was supposed to be a side job at Chick-Lets has become Giordano’s main source of income. Although his dependence on the restaurant came sooner than he planned, Giordano is optimistic. He added that the restaurant is currently doing better than he had previously expected.
Customers said they were enthusiastic about the new restaurant.
“I love the atmosphere and the music. The food is also amazing and organic — it’s really a package deal,” said New Haven resident Lisa Allendorf, who has already eaten at the restaurant three times since its opening last Monday.
Melva Murrell, who was campaigning for the midterm elections this week, saw the restaurant’s sign and decided to give it a try. Murrell said the food is fabulous and that she had a positive experience, giving the restaurant a rating of five stars.
Giordano plans to open up four other Chick-Lets within seven to eight years. His next place in mind is in Guilford, where he believes there is a similar crowd of health-conscious consumers.
“I want to see if this is something that could be turned into a Chipotle, except healthier” Giordano said.
Chick-Lets acquires its ingredients from a total of 10 different local farms and vendors.