Patricia’s Restaurant, a local breakfast favorite and staple in the diet of many a Yalie, has closed its doors on weekdays following a medical emergency in the family that runs the diner.

Last Sunday, in an attempt to relieve some of the financial stress now facing the Vamvakas family, Genevieve Esse ’19 began an online fundraising campaign for the diner. Esse, whose off-campus apartment is located directly in front of the diner, said she was compelled to start the fundraiser following a conversation she had with Patricia’s co-owner, Bessie Vamvakas. She discovered that Vamvakas’ husband had suffered a severe heart attack. As a result, the family-run restaurant will now be open only on weekends — allowing Bessie Vamvakas, her husband Pete and their sons to take the time to heal and care for one another.

“I just couldn’t sit back and have my condolences be enough,” Esse said. “It’s really important for us to be more involved in the New Haven community, and we owe it to people like Bessie and her family to give back.”

Esse originally set the fundraiser ceiling at $2,000. But following a “flood” of contributions just three days after the “Help Patricia’s” campaign was posted to, the initial goal was smashed.

To date, there are a total of 63 donations ranging from $5 to $300. Surprised and excited by the response to the fundraiser, Esse has since set the next milestone at $4,000.

“It’s really great to know that Bessie and Pete are so appreciated and loved by the Yale community,” Esse said. “I just hope people will keep sharing it and keep clicking on the donation button.”

Vamvakas told the News she wants Patricia’s patrons to know her husband is doing well, and that she is “so thankful” for the outpouring of love and support over the past few days.

Students who contributed to the fundraiser said they felt compelled to donate as soon as they saw the fundraiser page.

Si Affron ’20 said he appreciates Patricia’s unique atmosphere and does not want the restaurant to have to close its doors.

“Everyone has their go-to off-campus food spots, and for me Patty’s is definitely one of those,” Alex Gerszten ’18 said. “There are so many times when a slow, gray Sunday becomes so much better with an omelet, some crispy hash browns and a smile from Bessie. Patricia’s is truly one of New Haven’s hidden gems, and I hope Yale students can contribute to keeping it alive.”

Daniel Dager |