Since the start of the school year, undergrads walking to class have passed by an unlabeled construction project inside a small University building across from the Yale Police Department. In a few weeks, the building at 100 Ashmun St. will no longer be an unknown site; it will open to the public as Petals Market, a dynamic convenience store that will offer made-in-house options like pizzas, paninis and salads in addition to many ready-to-go options like cold drinks.

“This [neighborhood] is something of a food desert,” kitchen manager Jefferson Gennerella said. “You have access to the food trucks, but there’s not a whole lot more. We wanted healthier options, grab and go, that you can rely on to not be full of additives.”

The staff expects to receive business from local students, University employees, community members and anyone else who passes the storefront. Gennerella acknowledged that the market would likely cater to many students and swould be more affordable than similar options in the area.

Because the staff is still waiting on some inventory, there is no firm opening date yet. Gennerella said the team hopes to open within the next two weeks. Other parts of Petals’ operation are also still being finalized. According to Gennerella, the store’s weekday hours are expected to last from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the shop has not yet finalized its hours on the weekend.

Petals owner Gideon Gibreyesus has a long history of involvement with the New Haven food scene. According to the New Haven Independent, Gibreyesus opened his first New Haven restaurant — Cafe Adulis — in 1991. He is now an advisor to the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology, a culinary-arts and behavioral-sciences job-training organization intended to help underemployed New Haven residents. According to Gennerella, there will be a strong link between Petals and the center.

On Monday afternoon, Petals invited employees from the non-profit organization New Haven Reads at the Bristol Street location to sample menu items. The staff held similar events for the Yale School of Forestry and the Yale Police Department earlier last week.

“What we wanted to do was reach out to the local neighborhood and let everyone know that they’re welcome here,” Gennerella said. “It’s about community building.”

New Haven Reads employees Jynelle Smith and Natasha Wingreen were among the employees who tried different items on the menu, which includes a breakfast pizza topped with scallions, bacon and a sunnyside-up egg.

Smith expressed her excitement that a store would be opening on the block. Smith explained that the area lacks options for breakfast and lunch, and the new convenience store is “really needed.” She added that she hopes to show students’ families and friends the market when it opens.

“It was a nice way to connect with the people who are working around here,” said Aimee Kurtis-Travgalini, the site director of the Bristol Street New Haven Reads location. “It was very thoughtful to have them call and [reach out] to us and have us to try what they’re going to be offering.”

Petals Market is currently hiring store clerks and cashiers.

Emiliano Gomez |

Allen Siegler |