A week after the Anchor served its last drink, New Haven residents are still petitioning the closure of the bar, located on College Street.
Yale University Properties declined to renew the bar’s lease after months of unpaid rent. On Jan. 5, Jesse Richards, a local filmmaker, set up a petition against the bar’s closure on Change.org. The petition not only protests Yale’s decision to close a bar that has been open for over 50 years but also aims to raise awareness about residents’ dissatisfaction with University Properties’ choice of tenants. The petition claims that Yale has inflicted “cultural damage” on New Haven, closing down local establishments in favor of trendier chain stores that students might prefer. In less than a week, the petition garnered more than 1,100 signatures.
“The Anchor Bar and Restaurant has been one of the few remaining and well-loved local establishments in New Haven, and a place that most of us thought was safe from the slow homogenization/gentrification that Yale University has been imposing on our hometown,” the petition reads.
Richards said he anticipates taking his petition to UP when it reaches 2,000 signatures. Even though he thinks UP will not take significant action, he said he does not believe they can “shrug off” such a large response.
While Richards said he does not hold an “anti-Yale” stance and has enjoyed the thriving arts scene Yale brings to the city, he said he does feel that Yale has had a “devastating” impact on local businesses.
“When a place closes where there is good community — good ideas and culture being shared — it’s really hard to reclaim that,” he said.
However, New Haven resident Victor Fabine, who frequented the bar, said Yale was justified in closing the bar down since it was not paying rent. He added that before Yale began investing in the city, areas of downtown New Haven were dilapidated and economic development was limited. Many people who are most upset with Anchor’s closure have not been to the bar in years or are not considering Yale’s responsibility as a landlord, he said.
He added that their memories of the bar may not be an accurate reflection of the Anchor in its current state. While the building had a unique charm, “the kitchens sucked, the bartenders sucked and the waitresses were horrible,” he said.
Karen Peart, a spokesperson for the Yale Office of Public Affairs, said in an email last week that UP made every effort to allow the business to remain open, but DWN Enterprises, the independent management company that had been operating the bar since 2012, had failed to meet the agreements set out by the lease since the shift in management.
“University Properties made many accommodations for DWN Enterprises since their rent payments became sporadic starting in early 2013,” Peart said.
Even after entering into a court agreement in mid-2014 that would have allowed Anchor to remain open, DWN once again failed to uphold the agreements laid out, according to Peart. John Pollard, a real estate advisor for UP, said that while he is sorry to see the Anchor close, it is important to remember that UP cannot give away space for free.
Gabriel Levine ’14, who frequented the bar as an undergraduate, said he hopes UP thinks carefully about how they replace the property. Recent developments on Broadway have not had the most positive reaction from Yale students either, he said, noting students’ distaste of international retailer Kiko Milano at 1 Broadway.
“If New Haveners without Yale affiliations are upset with UP, and if Yale students are upset with UP, then I’m not sure who UP is serving,” he said.
However, currently, the future of the property previously occupied by the Anchor remains unclear. UP has not decided how the property will be filled, Pollard said. Charlie Moore, whose family owned Anchor and hired DWN in 2012, confirmed he has no intentions to continue with the business.
“[Anchor] is a chapter in a book, and it’s time to turn the page to bigger and better things,” he said.
Both Richards’ petition and Fabine, despite their differing opinions on UP, said they would rather the Anchor be replaced with a local business, as opposed another chain store.
“Both locals and Yale [affiliates] loved the places that we lost,” Richards said. “I think most people appreciate living in a place that has some individuality and local character, and it’s time that Yale as an entity learns to respect and foster that.”
In 2014, Esquire, a national men’s magazine, named the Anchor one of the best 25 bars in America.
This story has been updated to reflect the version published on print on Jan. 12.