Two establishments — one serving craft beer and the other Asian fusion noodles — will join downtown New Haven’s bar and restaurant scene in the coming months.
Owners of the The Beer Collective — a bar that will serve beer produced by small-scale specialty breweries — signed a lease in late February with New Haven real estate investment firm Olympia Properties for 130 Court St., a vacancy three blocks from Old Campus that previously housed an Italian restaurant. The bar is on schedule to open this summer, owner Craig Sklar said. Olympia Properties signed a second lease on March 7 with the owners of Mecha Noodle Bar — a Fairfield-based restaurant chain that serves Asian-inspired cuisine — for property on 201 Crown St., Olympia owner Chris Nicotra said. Though Nicotra said he could not disclose details, the owners of Mecha plan to build a novelty restaurant similar to establishments found in New York City.
“The owners of Mecha are talking to me about a brand new concept that would be an incredible addition to some of the stuff in New Haven, such as Barcade,” Nicotra said. “Underneath Mecha Noodle is a 4,000-square-foot basement. It would be really unique and is really hot in New York City.”
In a Thursday statement to the News, Mecha management said they were not yet ready to unveil the plans for their new Elm City property.
The additions of The Beer Collective and Mecha Noodle Bar are the latest in a recent trend of businesses that actively seek to invest in the Elm City. The past several years have seen a spike in investor interest, Nicotra said. In contrast, during the course of almost all of his two decades in the New Haven development business, Nicotra had to pursue potential investors, he said.
Owners of Mecha Noodle Bar and The Beer Collective were both based outside of New Haven and competed with several other businesses for their current properties in the Elm City, Nicotra said. Nicotra has recently met with two investors from New York City and Boston who seek to buy property in the Elm City and he will sign leases with two other business ventures within the next week.
“The point is that literally in the past month I have done four deals,” Nicotra said. “Last year I don’t know if I did four deals in an entire year. Those are hard-core facts and statistics that you can visibly see.”
According to Sklar, the recent growth in the city convinced him to return to New Haven for his business venture. He had been working in New York City’s beer industry for roughly seven years.
Nicotra and Sklar added that the cost of rent in New York City — which has skyrocketed in the last few years — has been a significant impetus to convince business owners to invest in New Haven. Though Elm City rent has appreciated in recent years, it has remained well below the levels in the Big Apple, Nicotra said.
Once The Beer Collective opens this summer, it will serve spirits from a variety of local breweries around Connecticut as well as those from Europe. Though Mecha has not yet announced the specifics of its New Haven product line, it serves Ramen and Pho for roughly $12 a bowl in its Fairfield location.
On the same block as The Beer Collective’s future home sits a 2-year-old bar called the Regal Beagle. Like Sklar, owner Matt Longley grew up in New Haven and wanted to open a business in the city. The addition of a new bar on the block, Longley said, is good business for everyone around.
“I 300 percent agree that more businesses around our area is good for our business,” Longley said. “The more to the area the better. I only wish the city would add more parking to our area downtown.”