Yale Daily News

Three of New Haven’s four Blue State Coffee locations closed their doors for good this Friday at 5 p.m. 

The three closed locations have been bought by Commons Grounds Cafe, another small Connecticut chain. The storefronts, located at Wall Street, York Street and near the Medical School, have operated in New Haven since 2009. Blue State’s fourth New Haven location, on Orange Street, will remain in business.

The closure came as a surprise to both regulars and employees, who are now out of work for the time being. Blue State Coffee Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Greenspan told the News that she felt confident Commons Grounds would consider rehiring the outgoing Blue State baristas and managers.

Greenspan described her time running the chain’s expansion to six locations across New England as a wonderful experience. But now, she said, is the right time to move on and focus on other projects.

“I am a grandmother now, and I have other things that I like to do,” Greenspan said. “The timing was just right for us.”

Blue State Coffee was founded in 2004 by Greenspan’s son, Andrew Ruben ’11 LAW ’17, with the goal of supporting nonprofits and creating a “ripple effect of positive change.” Blue State paused their donations over the COVID-19 pandemic, but previously gave 2 percent of all sales to nonprofits, resulting in total donations of over $1,000,000.

Employees at the three locations were informed that they would soon be out of work over email earlier this week. Many were surprised by the news, but said they did not feel animosity towards their employers. 

“I was walking with my boyfriend and ran into my manager, and he asked if I had checked my email,” one employee, who was granted anonymity due to professional concerns, told the News. “And then he was like ‘We’re closing on Friday.’ I was just in a huge shock. Nothing is too clear. I am still scheduled for this weekend, so I don’t really know what is going on.”

Other employees expressed similar confusion. Patrick, an employee who asked to be referred to only by his first name due to professional concerns, had only started working at Blue State Coffee last week. Patrick said that he had hoped to work at Blue State for a while, but is now unsure of what comes next for him.

The employees told the News they were hopeful that they would receive jobs at the new Common Grounds Cafe locations, but were not confident or clear on the terms that Blue State and Common Grounds had agreed to.

Greenspan said that the security of Blue State’s employees was the first thing she asked Common Grounds’ team about when they first spoke, requesting that they consider hiring their baristas and managers.

Some students mourned Blue State’s departure, recalling the chain’s several locations near campus and importance to some caffeine enthusiasts. Asked to describe Blue State’s impact in two words, Alvaro Perpuly ’23 said, “home, home.”

“The Blue State on Wall Street is a staple that I pass by every day,” said Emily Zhang ’25. “The world will not be the same without it. Ask me not how many times I have actually gone in there to buy something, but how many times I have been on the receiving end of vibes from there.”

Blue State Coffee’s last remaining cafe in New Haven is near the School of Management, at 534 Orange Street.

Khuan-Yu Hall is the City Editor at the News. He is a sophomore in Davenport, from Hartland, Vermont, double majoring in Statistics and Data Science and Ethics, Politics, and Economics.