New Haven storefronts evolve
Multiple beloved businesses have shut down in the last four years, with new favorites taking their places. As a result, the Class of 2022 is leaving a different New Haven than the one they entered in 2018.
Jose Davila IV
As the class of 2022 joined the New Haven community in 2018, the University had just held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new L.L. Bean on Broadway, and the Taco Bell Cantina opened adjacent to the New Haven Green. Both stores quickly became a hit with the Yale community, although the L.L. Bean pushed out the long-standing outdoor sports retailer Trailblazer, which decided that it wasn’t in the stores best interest to be sandwiched between the Patagonia and the L.L. Bean.
With these two major businesses opening stores in the Elm City came the closing of a few others, including Café Romeo, which announced that it had sold its storefront to another shop in February, 2019. The coffee shop became Blue State’s fourth New Haven location.
Many students expressed displeasure with Café Romeo closing, stating that the city did not need yet another Blue State.
“Blue State is always packed at all times of the day,” Kelsey Dunn ’22 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.”
Despite the increasing number of chain coffee shops in New Haven, smaller businesses also managed to make their place in the city. Only a few weeks after the decision to open another Blue State, Ankit Harpaldas announced that he would be opening the now-loved Sherkaan right outside Ezra Stiles College on 65 Broadway where the Indian restaurant Thali Too used to be.
Not only did Sherkaan draw New Haven residents with the intoxicating smell of food that emanates from the store daily, but Harpaldas also made it a point to keep Sherkaan’s prices accessible and focus the menu on Indian streetfood, a previously unrepresented cuisine in the Elm City.
“The overall theme is an old-world urban India. Even the lighting in here is to replicate if you walked down a street in India,” Harpaldas said.
Although Sherkaan’s opening sparked joy across the city, other long-standing stores still had to close in 2019. One of these was the popular cycling store Shift Cycling, which shut down abruptly after four years in March, 2019.
The owner and founder, Jenn Kuehn, emailed her employees on Tuesday that the store would be closed by Thursday, without giving them any prior notice to its closure.
“The news that Shift was abruptly closing came as an unfortunate shock to those who rode there, myself included,” Victoria Bonano ’21 told the News. “Shift provided not only a great fitness studio, but also an amazing group of people.”
At the same time as Shift shutting down, Lululemon opened their Broadway location. Joining the other higher-end stores on Broadway such as Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, and Patagonia, Lulu also became and remains a fan-favorite among Yalies.
Multiple students were unhappy with the opening of another high-price brand-name store on Broadway in the widely underprivileged city of New Haven.
“I personally don’t think we need any more big brand, high mark-up store,” Jacob Abdallah ’21 told the News. “Elite spaces like Yale already privilege and favor the wealthy, and having almost exclusively expensive retail stores on campus further exacerbates the already stark economic divide in the student body.”
A few months later, in October, 2019, New Haven witnessed the closing of the seven-decades-old pizza shop Wall Street Pizza. Yalies mourned the ability to sample Wall Street’s thin-crust pies and etch their names on the old wooden tables.
Originally called Naples, the restaurant’s closing devastated many members of the Yale community. Its patrons mainly included Yale faculty and students, as well as construction workers at nearby sites. The parlor did not evade scandal through its many years, however — in 2001, Wall Street Pizza lost its liquor license for selling alcohol to minors, which had a large effect on the establishment. Nonetheless, Wall Street Pizza was immediately missed by Yalies and New Haven residents alike.
“I [had been going to] Wall Street since I was in high school,” Maya Geradi ’22, an Elm City resident and Yale student, told the News. “It is such a great study spot and most of my friends loved hanging out there. The staff was also really friendly … one time I remember my friend and I were stressed about an exam; we had gone to study at Wall Street and they gave us free dessert because we were telling them about our exam.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, New Haven restaurants bore the brunt of the economic burden, with many businesses temporarily and permanently closing as a result of the lockdowns.
Next Door Pizza, opened by Doug Coffin ’76, was cherished in the New Haven community until Coffin had to shut down due to the pandemic. Luckily Coffin was able to reopen once pandemic restrictions lifted, as did multiple New Haven businesses throughout the pandemic. As it stands, only a small handful of stores closed permanently as a direct result of the pandemic, including Jojo’s and Beer Collective.
Yet, there was still hope for New Haven during the pandemic, as many businesses were also able to open their doors throughout 2020 and 2021. Among these was Havenly Treats, which reopened in fall 2020. The nonprofit restaurant, which employs refugees in the Elm City area, reopened on 25 Temple St, where it still stands.
Many Yalies were very excited about the prospect of enjoying some goods from Havenly.
“Havenly is a great way to help the New Haven economy while also helping local refugee women,” New Haven native Yasmin Bergemann ’24 said. “I’ve seen the way it involves people from all over New Haven, and it’s a great way to meet new people and make new connections.”
Unfortunately, the 2021-22 school year underwent the closing of one of the most beloved New Haven restaurants to Yalies: the Taco Bell Cantina. Having closed its doors in October 2021, the Yale microcosm that supported students through remote learning and heavy pandemic restrictions will not be around to celebrate the class of 2022’s graduation, despite opening within their first few weeks at Yale.
Yale University Properties manages many of the retail stores that have opened on Broadway since 2018, as they are Yale University commercial properties. University Properties states that it is committed to enhancing the quality of life in New Haven through construction of high quality retail stores.