7.07.2016

Where are They Now? An Update on New Haven Establishments

My most recent post lead to lots of conversation and many questions about New Haven with "I wonder what happened to....?" and "I remember when..." being the two most common responses.
Broadway, Gateway to New Haven
Broadway, Gateway to New Haven

Below is an update on some New Haven establishments that were popular in my day. I copied the list from my original post and added a few others based on what people have been talking about. There are a few times when I couldn't find the full story or my memory fails me, so I'll need your  help to fill in the gaps. Feel free to leave your stories in the comments section of this post. I am sure there are a ton of great places I am missing.

New Haven's Memorable Institutions & Establishments
  • Archie Moore's- Still kickin', still known for their buffalo wings.
  • Claire's Corner Copia - A vegetarian restaurant founded in 1975. Nice folks, unlike Edge of the Woods (See below).
    Cutler's New Haven, CT
  • Cutler's - Who didn't love Cutler's? New Haven's beloved independent record store was founded in 1948 and sadly closed in 2012. One of my first purchases as a college student was a Cutler's tie-dye t-shirt. It was in the sale bin because it said "Cutler's Records & Tapes" and they had to change their shirts as tapes were on the way out.
Cutler's was a big store with knowledgeable and friendly staff. as well as a good place for a college student to spend a lot of time and money. Interestingly, on the same block of Broadway there was another independent music shop that was more "alternative" with lots of imports, obscure bands and vinyl. I can't recall the name of it, but it was on the second floor a door or two down from Cutler's. I imagine it is long gone.
  • Daily Cafe - Popular coffee shop in the 80s and 90s before coffee shops were everywhere. A web search revealed nothing so I imagine they are closed.Wonder what the coffee scene is in New Haven these days?
  • Edge of the Woods - The big (I recall it to be supermarket size-not sure if that is accurate) health food store on Whaley Avenue not far from my place on Elm Street. In the late 80s and early 90s, natural food stores hadn't taken off like they have today, so Edge of the Woods seemed cutting edge and quite impressive. While I liked the store, it wasn't a place that put shoppers at ease.The folks who worked there were the sort who possessed the stereotypical superiority complex and condescending attitude that give health food store workers a bad name. I clearly remember one of the first times I shopped at Edge of the Woods.When I checked out, the girl running the cash register asked for my re-usable bags. When I sheepishly told her I didn't bring any, she barked something along the lines of,  "Well, I'll give you one today, but you better remember to bring your own next time!" Yikes! As you can imagine, I never forgot my re-usable bag again!
  • Fitzwilly's - They have closed. I don't remember much about it, but I had heard of it before I arrived and knew it was a New Haven institution.  It was comfortable and cozy place with lots of leggy, bushy plants and two floors of seating, but that's all I recall.
    Group W Bench, New Haven
  • Group W Bench - Founded in 1968 and still around. Jen and I visited during my last visit to New Haven in 2013, and I had forgotten how much I love that place. Jam-packed with jewelry, clothing, incense, candles and so much more, Group W Bench appealed to me as college-age Deadhead and although my Deadhead/jam band days are long behind me, something about Group W Bench still resonates strongly with me to this day. It is an eclectic shop that manages to combine a groovy head-shop vibe with a touch of class without being boutique-y and annoying.
  • Jazz on the Green - When I think of lazy summer days in New Haven, I think of Jazz on the Green followed by pints at Richter's. These days, the organization Jazz New haven keeps the genre alive in the Elm City with many performances throughout the area as well as a free concert on the green. 
  • Louis' Lunch - The oldest running establishment on this list; since 1895! Claims to be home of the hamburger. You only get it one way 'cuz that's they way they've always done it. Don't even think of asking to add or subtract anything. I've never been and am not sure if I'd dig it. But I do dig the idea of this place; of its legacy, culinary history and old-fashion charm. This article provides a great look at Louis' Lunch and if you scroll to the bottom of the screen you can find  a video from Jane and Michael Stern's visit.
  • Mamoun's- Glad to see that this middle eastern restaurant started in New York City in 1971 (New Haven location opened in 1977) is still around. My first experience with falafels. Mamoun's is located near Rudy's and was (and still is) open until after the bars close. Although it's hard to beat a post-bar slice of pizza, falafels can be a nice change of pace from time to time.
  • Miya's Sushi  - Run by Bun Lai, New Haven's celebrity chef, Miya's was founded in 1982 by Bun's mother. My friend Don introduced me to  Bun back in the day, and this was my first exposure to sushi. Miya's can be magical; it will rock your world. Bun adds ingredients to his sushi that will at first shock but then quickly delight. Creative and innovative yet still "real" sushi, Bun has the skill and the panache to pull it off. Miya's is a sushi place like no other.
    New Haven Advocate, independent weekly paper
  • New Haven Advocate - RIP. This was my first alternative weekly paper. You know the kind, filled with the latest on arts, entertainment, hip happenings, cool people, fringe thoughts and more. The back is has classified ads from legitimate and ordinary to risque and questionable.
  • Pizza places - Pizza still abounds in New Haven, and Pepe's and Sally's still dominate. For the life of me, I cannot recall the name of the pizza place across from Rudy's where I had many a late night slice. I don't remember if this place was any good, but when the bar let out at 2 a.m. and you could easily get a slice that was all that mattered.
  • Richter's - Sadly, the old Richter's has closed but a new pub called Ordinary now operates in the same location. You can read the history here. While I don't like the name Ordinary as nothing about this location is ordinary, apparently a town tavern was know as an "ordinary" in the 1600s so it is appropriate.
  • Rudy's - Founded in 1934 on Elm Street and moved to a new location on Chapel in 2010. A dive bar where I spent many a night. Dark and wood-paneled with a great jukebox, Rudy's had an intimate neighborhood pub feel that sticks with me to this day.  My initials, along with those of hundreds who came before me, are carved into one of the wooden tables. It's a bummer to think that Rudy's might not be the same as it's always been, but things change and I am good with that. This article shares the story of Rudy's move but the telling point comes from the readers comments section at the bottom of the article. Folks have fond memories of Rudy's and many are insistent that the new location will "ruin" it.
  • Third World International Cafe - I was only there a handful of times to catch a few reggae shows. As a college student fresh out of the exurbs of Northern New Jersey, Third World was an eye-opening and wild experience. Gritty and rough-around-the-edges, it wasn't one of my go-to establishments, but I'm glad I got to experience something like this; great music in a setting that was authentic and edgy. My web search reveled nothing so I imagine it is long gone.
  • Toad's Place - I heard about Toad's before arriving in New Haven as they had quite a reputation as place to catch bands. Bringing live music to the Elm City since 1976,Toad's has boasted its fair share of epic shows over the years. Early on in its history, it was a great place to catch a band on its way up. The walls of Toad's are lined with the names of bands that graced their stage over the years. and it is truly impressive. As a young college student I was in awe, but I'm not sure what the reputation is today. I check out their lineup from time to time and appears as if they are now catching bands on their way down.
  • Viva Zapata's- I hadn't thought of this place in ages but someone mentioned it after my last post and a web search revealed it's still around. When I think of Mexican food in the 80s, I think of the standard taco recipe of moms everywhere; crunchy taco shells, ground beef brought to life by the contents of a taco seasoning packet, garnished with lettuce and tomatoes. It wasn't until I got to college that I experienced "real" Mexican food. A junior from my dorm raved about Viva Zapata's and was quite excited to take a few of us there during my first week of college. My first margarita's, first taste of guacamole. Good memories, yes. Good food, I can't remember.
If you want to find out more, check out the New Haven Bucket List, written a few years about by someone actually living there.

This post is written by another New Haven dweller and is a walk down memory lane with a lot of good stories and memories in the comments sections of the post. Best line in the article, "New Haven is filled with sentimental chumps like me who remember every club, every restaurant they ever ate at, every store where they ever bought shoes, and lament their closings. If you don't believe me, there is proof on Facebook."