For several months, residents of Wooster Square have had to venture beyond the convenient confines of their neighborhood in search of a cup of joe. But that is about to change.
Two years ago, Fuel Coffee, which was the neighborhood’s sole coffee shop at the time, moved from Chapel St. to Wooster St., leaving the owners of the Chapel St. property, Jimmy and Sara Wang, to contemplate the building’s future. Initially, the Wangs thought they would convert the space into a two-bedroom apartment, which, their friends advised them, would be a reliable source of revenue. But after further rumination, the Wangs became excited about another idea: opening a coffee shop of their own.
“This community needs a coffee shop,” Sara Wang said.
According to Wang, Wooster Square already has plenty of apartments but a severe shortage of coffee shops, especially after Fuel Coffee closed on Wooster St. last spring.
The Wangs’s shop, which will be called Wooster Square Coffee, will serve coffee, tea, other hot beverages, baked goods and pastries. Its soft opening is planned for Nov. 10.
Wang said she envisions the shop as not only a business but a community center. She said she looks forward to providing a space for neighbors and students to meet up, catch up or simply read and work. Her objective is to create a “warm and cozy” atmosphere.
“It will be a place to chat with friends, ” she said. “My goal is not only to make money but to provide something for the community.”
New Haven’s economic development team has recently focused attention on the Wooster Square neighborhood, said Carlos Eyzaguirre, a city economic development officer. Five hundred and fifty new apartments are slated for construction in the neighborhood, and the soon-to-be-finished New Haven-Springfield rail line will stop at State Street Station, which is on the western edge of Wooster Square.
But the new development poses a potential risk to Wooster Square’s quaint character and historic architecture.
To ensure “responsible growth” in the neighborhood, the city recently completed a Wooster Square development study, which outlines how to preserve the area’s character, Eyzaguirre said. A “fiercely loyal group of neighbors” has been involved in planning, development and preservation, he added.
According to Eyzaguirre, the coffee shop fits into the city’s plan for sensible development. Wooster Square’s retail space is currently dominated by pizza restaurants such as the famous Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s, so a new coffee shop will add diversity. Opening one is a “no-brainer,” Eyzaguirre said.
“We’re really supportive of the coffee shop,” he said.
Wooster Square residents also expressed support for the coffee shop.
Patrick Dunn, a member of the Historic Wooster Square Association’s board, said he misses Fuel Coffee and is excited to have a coffee shop back in the neighborhood.
Paul Proulx, who has lived in Wooster Square for 13 years, echoed Dunn’s sentiments. Proulx does not drink coffee but nonetheless thinks the coffee shop will be a good addition to the neighborhood.
“We need something more than Italian restaurants,” he laughed. Proulx is not a coffee enthusiast. But as someone with French-Canadian heritage, he said, he is thrilled at the prospect of a shop that sells croissants.
The Yale Shuttle Red Line stops at the intersection of Chapel and Olive streets, two blocks from the future shop.
Max Graham | firstname.lastname@example.org