More than two years after Jason Sobocinski abandoned plans to open an outpost of his popular bistro on Whitney Avenue, he’s setting up a new operation in the old Richter’s bar on Chapel Street.
Earlier this month, a liquor permit request notice appeared on the door of the shuttered watering hole, bearing Sobocinski’s name, slightly misspelled.
Sobocinski (pictured), who runs the popular Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro at the corner of Trumbull and Whitney, offered the following brief statement:
“We’re here to take over the old Richter’s space, restore it and turn it into a nice place for a relaxing drink in a beautiful atmosphere steeped in New Haven history. We’re keeping it secret for now until our Grand Opening! But we can tell you that this will not be any ordinary bar by any means. Think relaxed, adult, nostalgic, and 100 percent New Haven.”
Richter’s closed in June 2011. Owner Dieter vonRabenstein said he was no longer able to make ends meet in a tough recession. Richter’s had opened in 1983, in a space that featured 150-year old carved woodwork.
On Monday, workers could be seen through papered-over windows at the location, preparing the bar for a new life. Richter’s is next door to Shake Shack, the trendy fast food joint that opened last year amid much fanfare.
Sobocinski tried in 2010 to open a tavern on Whitney Avenue, called Bibere. The company listed on the liquor permit request notice (pictured) in Richter’s window is Bibere, LLC. Sobocinski, his brother Thomas, and Caseus manager Timothy Cabral are listed as the corporation’s principals on a state database.
Plans for Bibere on Whitney Avenue fell through because it turned out to be a more expensive proposition than expected, Sobocinski said in November, 2010. The Board of Zoning Appeals had approved the plan over the opposition of some East Rock neighbors. Sobocinski is unlikely to face the same push-back downtown.
posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on February 19, 2013 9:12am
Go Jason! You’re a New Haven treasure.
posted by: ebw1957 on February 19, 2013 9:21am
Reopening Richter’s will elevate the whole city- we miss that place.
posted by: aswallace on February 19, 2013 9:41am
That’s great news! Best of luck to Jason, Tom & Tim. Can’t wait to check out the new spot.
posted by: anonymous on February 19, 2013 10:38am
East Rock’s loss is Downtown’s gain.
posted by: Robbin on February 19, 2013 11:23am
Great news for downtown!!! Congratulations Jason!!!
posted by: DingDong on February 19, 2013 12:21pm
I thought there was some kind of problem with the requirement for having two fire exits at this property. Anyway, great news. I hope it opens soon.
posted by: Curious on February 19, 2013 1:12pm
Yeah, I thought the Richter’s didn’t have a back exit, and therefore needed extensive and overly-costly modifications to be a proper space under modern zoning rules.
PLease, please, please, Sobocinski…don’t mess this up. A LOT of people miss the old Richter’s, please hew close to that theme if you can.
posted by: robn on February 19, 2013 1:21pm
I thought so too. Wonder if a second means of egress has been found through the Taft?
posted by: robn on February 19, 2013 2:14pm
I don’t care how it happens…as long as there’s cheese and beer.
posted by: Babz Rawls Ivy on February 19, 2013 3:00pm
Oh to have a yard of beer again…
posted by: Margaret M. on February 19, 2013 3:04pm
This figment of Jason’s imagination is already my favorite bar.
posted by: woosterbill on February 19, 2013 7:21pm
This is exciting news. I was a regular at the old Richter’s until Prime 16 opened up and started offering better beer for better prices. Here’s hoping the new place combines the classic Richter’s atmosphere (including half yards!) with higher quality brews that are kept in better storage conditions than was often the case before the closure.
I’m already dreaming about a half yard of NEBCO Galaxy Pale Ale paired with some Caseus cheese and charcuterie…
posted by: Fairhavener on February 20, 2013 10:29am
Really excited about Richter’s making a comeback! May I suggest keeping, Richter’s in the name, bringing back the half yards ad has been mentioned and some decent beer (not necessarily $10 crafts) enough places for that but other interesting straight forward brews, maybe all local?
posted by: woosterbill on February 20, 2013 11:52am
Agreed 100%. It would be terrific to have a bar that specialized in high-quality but low-cost local craft beers, with an emphasis on low-ABV offerings. No one needs a $15 half yard of 10% Russian Imperial Stout, but I can envision a terrific selection of session(able) brews from great breweries like NEBCO and Two Roads. Who wouldn’t want to follow up a Workers Comp Saison with a Ghost Pigeon Porter?
posted by: ERockaway on February 20, 2013 3:43pm
This is great that Richter’s is being revived however, Jason is not a chef. He is the owner / mastermind behind Caseus and this new project but he should not be given credit for the cult following of food that leaves that kitchen. He has nothing to do with it… never has.
posted by: cbuzz on February 27, 2013 10:20am
Actually, Jason has everything to do with what comes out of his kitchen. As a former employee of his, I can tell you this as a fact. Menu items, specials, wine and beer are approved or conceptualized by Jason. He has an incredible BOH and FOH staff that have a great amount of input into what comes out of that Bistro but ultimately it is under Jasons vision and direction. I dont think its fair to state that he “shouldnt get any credit for the cult following of the food”. Jason is EXTREMELY involved in every aspect of his restaraunt especially the food….Always has.