Students returned to campus to find a slightly different restaurant landscape in New Haven, as two new eateries on Whitney Avenue opened while two other restaurants shuttered over the summer.
Fondue restaurant Au Chalet, the brainchild of Crêpes Choupette owner Adil Chokairy, opened at 24 Whitney Ave. in May, while 0 Degree Thai Ice Cream began operating just down the block on July 7. Meanwhile, Wings Over closed its location at 56 Whitney Ave. on May 31. Fellow chicken joint Buffalo Wild Wings on Chapel Street faced a similar fate, closing later in the summer.
“We concentrate on what we know how to do, and let people decide whether they like us or dislike us,” Chokairy said.
With the two restaurants opening while Yale’s classes were out of session, the summer shake-up was just a portion of Whitney Avenue’s evolving food scene. In the spring, Indian restaurant Coriander took over Sababa’s site and Xi’an Cuisine replaced Chao Restaurant & Wine Cafe.
In the past, the main strip of Whitney Avenue has primarily been a lunch spot for workers in one of the city’s busiest business districts. Now, instead of operating solely in the daylight, many of the new restaurants have expanded hours into the evening and night, giving the neighborhood multiuse venues. And with more students in the area after the opening of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges, Whitney Avenue businesses have more clientele to attract.
Now fully operational, Au Chalet and 0 Degree replace Tony’s Square Donuts and Go Greenly, a frozen yogurt shop, respectively.
Both restaurants are higher-end and more expensive than their predecessors. Au Chalet serves a variety of cheese fondues from $15 to $18, along with beverage options like wine, coffee and tea. Sold in a standardized size, 0 Degree’s ice cream dishes are priced at $6.59 a bowl.
Additionally, both Au Chalet and 0 Degree are an expansion of an existing business concept. Chokairy began operating a food cart in October that served raclette cheese, mirroring the serving style of the Crêpes Choupette cart that brought him Elm City fame. But after the Board of Alders passed legislation in April that overhauled the rules governing food vendors throughout the city, Chokairy began to consider alternatives to parking near Woolsey Hall. Though Chokairy noted that he would continue working with the city in an attempt to continue vending in that area, for now, the concept will operate solely out of the brick-and-mortar store on Whitney Avenue.
0 Degree’s New Haven location is one of three stores serving up ice cream in Connecticut. The company opened a location in Middletown earlier in the year and a branch in West Hartford following the opening of the New Haven shop, manager Lai Chen said.
But the past week has shown businesses cannot count on droves of students naturally wondering over to the area. Instead, restaurants and other retailers will have to try and attract students like Brantley Butcher ’19, who transferred to Murray from Saybrook College. Butcher said he has only visited Whitney Avenue one time this semester. All the other times, he went to Old Campus to eat at places he was familiar with.
The new residential colleges are occupied by more than 700 students.
Myles Odermann | firstname.lastname@example.org | @myles_odermann