Eric Wang

After 10 years of business, East Rock’s Cafe Romeo has closed up shop, and Blue State Coffee’s fourth New Haven location will soon take its place.

On Feb. 4, Cafe Romeo founder and owner Chris Mordecai announced that he sold the cafe to another local coffee shop, though he declined to confirm which coffee shop when prompted by both the New Haven Independent and the New Haven Register. But in an email to the News, Blue State representative Kelsey Cote confirmed that they will open up shop at the Orange Street location in a few months, adding that the company is excited to become a part of the East Rock community.

Cafe Romeo has been a staple of the East Rock community for a decade, serving Elm City residents a range of items including coffee, pastries and pizza. Mordecai told the New Haven Independent he was motivated to close the show because he felt he just needed to do something different.

“We’ve been open 10 years,” he said to the Independent. “We’re open 364 days a year. It was just too much to work seven days a week, 364 days a year.”

Since Cafe Romeo’s opening in October of 2009, the only days he had ever taken off were on Christmas Day. And after announcing the Cafe’s closing, Mordecai told the New Haven Register that he would not sell the business to a chain operation, and instead find a “small local business” to move into the property.

Mordecai did not respond to requests for comment.

Kelsey Dunn ’21, who occasionally went to Cafe Romeo on weekends in order to get away from the downtown rush, said while she is sad to see it go, she is even more sad that it will be replaced by a Blue State.

“Blue State is always packed at all times of the day,” she told the News. “It’s impossible to get a seat, and it’s always filled with Yale students, which can be really distracting when you’re trying to get work done.”

Blue State Coffee –– which first opened in 2007 –– has eight locations in total, four in Connecticut and the remaining in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. In the Elm City, Blue State hosts two locations near Yale’s main campus on Wall Street and York Street, as well as a third at 320 Congress Ave. This new location is adjacent to the School of Management on Orange Street.

City Plan Commission chair Ed Mattison LAW ’68 said that though he will really miss Cafe Romeo and Mordecai, he thinks that Blue State was a fit choice for a replacement, as the cafe does not have a large-chain feel.

“I think Blue State is very well run and very friendly, which is why it doesn’t feel or act like a chain,” he told the News. “It feels much less like Starbucks, and it does a lot of good for the community.”

According to their website, Blue State associates coffee with “American values like equality, optimism, and the dignity of every individual.”

Blue State Coffee began as a family business that wanted to create an environmentally friendly, “community-oriented coffee shop” that would donate 2 percent of sales to local nonprofit organizations. In their 15 years of operation, the company has held true to that promise –– they reportedly have donated over $900,000 to more than 300 local nonprofit organizations, such as Connecticut Food Bank, New Haven Reads, Girls on the Run and Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. Every time a customer makes a purchase, they may use a token to vote for one of the 4 nonprofits the shop is supporting at that time.

Blue State’s fourth and last location in Connecticut resides in Hartford.

Caroline Moore | caroline.moore@yale.edu