Storied Richter’s Tavern To Open New Chapter
| Mar 26, 2013 9:30 am
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Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Food, Downtown
After months spent painstakingly restoring an iconic bar, securing locally sourced hand-crafted pies, and finding just the right ice maker, Jason Sobocinski is nearly ready to open ... an ordinary watering hole.
Sobocinski (at left in photo) and his three collaborators have taken extraordinary measures to achieve their vision for the new tavern they’re opening at the site of the former Richter’s Cafe, the storied Chapel Street bar that shut its doors nearly two years ago. Sobocinski said they’re just a few weeks away from pouring their first drink, at a bar they’re calling Ordinary.
The name invokes an archaic British word for a tavern. It also refers to the kind of atmosphere the owners want to create: an ordinary neighborhood bar where everyone feels comfortable and welcome.
That doesn’t mean bottles of Bud Light and plates of nachos. Sobocinski has made a name for himself in New Haven with Caseus, the Whitney Avenue fromagerie and bistro known for its carefully crafted cuisine. He and his partners are bringing that same foodie fastidiousness to their new venture.
Ordinary will feature imported craft beer on tap, a full selection of wines and artisanal spirits, fine cheese and charcuterie, hand-made savory pies, fancy chocolates, olives, pickles, and dried meats.
A recent visit to the in-progress bar found Sobocinski sampling cheese and salamis offered by traveling salesman John Stryjek (pictured), trying out items he might offer at Ordinary.
“Mmm, really smoky. Lots of pimenton,” Sobocinski said, appraising a mouthful of chorizo. “This is a gateway blue,” he announced of a triple-cream brie.
Sobocinski’s three partners wandered in: Mike Farber, who owns Mikro Beer Bar in Hamden; Timothy Cabral, the manager at Caseus; and Thomas Sobocinski, Jason’s brother. They gathered in the back room, which is now ringed with red leather couches, and stocked with tables reclaimed from a brewery in Brattleboro, Vermont. Farber passed around a bag of grass-fed beef jerky from Vermont.
“This is good! We should carry this,” Sobocinski said.
In the middle of the room was an enormous stuffed moose head, a relic of Richter’s bar waiting to return to the wall above the mantle. The moose was shot in 1908 by Richter’s founder Rick Elser’s grandfather. Its presence is one of a number of ways Ordinary aims to honor the history of the bar.
Workers have been laboring for weeks to restore all the bar’s ornate hand-carved oak woodwork, some of which dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Jason said all the woodwork was stripped down and refinished by contractors who became obsessed with the task, pulling out Q-Tips to get into all the nooks of the now-gleaming hand-carved grapes. Click here to see photos of the process, taken by contractor Brian Way, pictured in center of top photo.
In the hallway to the bathrooms, Ordinary has installed a timeline of the history of the site, compiled with the help of historian Colin Caplan. Fun facts: President Lincoln stayed in the building, as did George and Martha Washington, Babe Ruth, and Marlon Brando.
While Ordinary looks back at the past, Jason said the bar aims to create a new kind of place that doesn’t exist in New Haven yet.
“We’re not going to be Richter’s,” Jason said. “We definitely want to pave our own way.”
That means, in part, meticulous attention to quality when it comes to food and drink. The bar’s special ice machine, for instance, creates perfect 1.5-inch cubes of very dense ice, designed to melt more slowly, to chill drinks without diluting them, Cabral (pictured) said.
The ice will chill “interesting” and “esoteric” spirits and classic cocktails. Ordinary won’t have a “speed well full of crap,” nor will you be able to order shots, Farber said. Absolutely no flavored Absolut vodka and no “Sex On the Beach” cocktails, said Jason.
Ordinary won’t even have a soda gun to dispense mixers and seltzer. All mixers will be made in house, Jason said.
All the drinks will have suggested food pairings. If someone orders a tasting plate featuring a 70-percent cacao dark chocolate bar with burnt sugar caramel and alderwood smoked salt, for instance, the server will be able to recommend a good beer to go with it.
Ordinary will feature six beers on tap, said Farber (at right in photo). “We’re trying to stay away from being an American craft beer bar,” he said. Those already exist in New Haven at places like Prime 16 and Cask Republic. Ordinary will emphasize European beers over American, with “large format” 750-milileter bottles available in addition to drafts.
Despite all this attention to fine food and drink, Jason said he aims to “not smash you over the head with ridiculous prices.”
Cabral said Ordinary will sell food and drink at less than the standard industry mark-up. And Ordinary will save on overhead by forgoing things like white table cloths and “fancy ballooned glasses” for beer, Jason said.
“The aim is to be accessible,” Jason said. He said he wants the bar to feel the same for a guy in jeans and a T-shirt, or a guy in a tuxedo—like an ordinary place.
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posted by: robn on March 26, 2013 9:43am
awesome! can’t wait.
posted by: Curious on March 26, 2013 10:27am
Not a big fan of the name at all, I was actually kind of bummed out when I saw the sign this morning. Hope the pub is good.
posted by: Atwater on March 26, 2013 11:26am
Ugh. Another yuppy bar. Old Rudy’s (now Elm Bar) was one of the few bars in New Haven that could claim to actually posses the atmosphere of a “regular bar”, which this guy is trying to manufacture and sell. I’m sure the yalies and yuppies will love this place.
posted by: babadagre8 on March 26, 2013 11:39am
This sounds like it is going to be a great place to have a drink and a bite. Sounds like a lot of meticulous work and thought has gone into it, good for you guys, good luck. congrats, can’t wait to stop by, and I’m not a Yalie!
posted by: Stylo on March 26, 2013 12:03pm
This is going to be a really cool new spot. It’s something different, and they obviously restored it beautifully and are creating a cool atmosphere. Whether or not YOU like it, this is awesome for the city.
posted by: Curious on March 26, 2013 12:04pm
Atwater, my thoughts exactly. Richter’s and Rudy’s were some of the only “dive” bars we had, and were awesome. Now they’re both being upscaled. What’s left?
posted by: streever on March 26, 2013 12:14pm
I think Old Rudy’s was actually a trash dump, and vastly prefer the new location.
Omer said to me, right before opening, that he was worried that people would be mad that his new restaurant was so different, but, he realized half-way through construction and design that no one builds something to be a dump.
A restaurant or bar becomes that way over time, but even the original Rudy’s was not opened as a dump where no one gave a darn. He felt artificial and ridiculous trying to make his new place look like a dive, because that was something that history did.
I agree with him, and I’m glad that Jason & other entrepneurs have the good sense to build inviting and comfortable locations.
The reason why so many people love old Rudy’s has more to do with their memories and their experiences. I get really bored with this endless kvetching, this sentiment that the “new” Rudy’s will never be as good for some reason you can name or describe. It has nothing to do with the interior, in this case, any everything to do with a subjective experience you had.
While you may have a hard time letting go of the visual and the nostalgia, the reality is that plenty of people will form similar feelings and sentiments around places ranging from McDonalds to new Rudy’s to the Ordinary, the exact same sentiments and feelings you’ve ascribed to the old Rudy’s.
What is it about subjective emotional experiences that people need to dump on other locations? Just treasure your nostalgia and sentiments of the places you love, and let it go when it comes to a new restaurant.
I wish Jason all the best. I’m looking forward to having a pint at the Ordinary!
posted by: Noteworthy on March 26, 2013 12:30pm
The name is underwhelming, but the food and drink will not be I’m quite sure. Can’t wait for it to open and wish the good partners all the best. Small business, locally owned. Got to love it.
posted by: Babz Rawls Ivy on March 26, 2013 12:40pm
Ooh…Ahh I can’t wait to slide in for a beer(s) and ambiance and snacks (I hope they have some vegan treats!).
This is what I love love love about New Haven, you can eat and drink in any atmosphere you might fancy, from upscale bars, to dive spots, there is a bar for just about everyone and Ordinary just might have my name all over it!
posted by: vintanthromodernvintage on March 26, 2013 1:04pm
Can’t wait for this opening! I fully expect the service and food/drink to be as exceptional as Caseus’.
posted by: Atwater on March 26, 2013 1:07pm
@streever: I agree that the experience of a place is subjective. But, those experiences are a product of a location’s atmosphere, which is created by not just the interior’s appearance but the type of people that frequent a place. A bar that serves “upscale” micro-brews, fancy cheese and food will probably attract a clientele, that to me are boorishly uptight and uniform in basic appearance, attitude and behavior. Old Rudy’s was great because of the many types of people that went there, Yalies, Townies, and even yuppies. It served decent beer in a comfortable environment, sure not the cleanest, but it was comfortable.
This new bar “Ordinary” seems just to be another cookie cutter establishment that seeks to attract the high spending, ivory tower urbanites and/or the uptight high spending suburbanites. Either way, middle of the road workingmen and women, townies, and “regular folk” will probably not patronize the place. That’s fine. But, it’s just another example of the segregation and sterilization of the city’s downtown area. New Haven could use more neighborhood bars/restaurants that welcome the locals, all of the locals. Not just a small portion of them.
posted by: REM on March 26, 2013 1:39pm
Congrats to the owners of Ordinary! Looks like it’s going to be awesome and I cant wait to check it out.
As someone who works at Elm Bar I understand first hand how people attach memories and expectations to an old, familiar haunt. Whether people like change or not, it happens. Luckily, in New Haven, we have something for everyone. I enjoy fancy cocktail lounges as much as I enjoy dives. Nothing wrong with either, just depends on your mood. It’s nice to have variety and I welcome new options.
At the end of the day, whether this bar is someone’s cup o’ tea or not, I think we can all agree it is better than a boarded up store-front (or a chain restaurant). I can’t wait to try it, best of luck to them!
posted by: PH on March 26, 2013 2:10pm
Looks fantastic Jason, I am very glad to see the good old physical elements of Richter’s combined with the thoughtfulness of Caseus!
Streever—While I understand your desire to reproach Atwater’s failure to understand what Jason is doing, we wax nostalgic about old Rudy’s because it really was a special place: a mix of locals, Yalies, good music, unpretentious beer and reliable atmosphere for many, many years at a time when there were few other such options (and continue to be few such options). It started to change when the frites arrived and the bartenders began drifting away to Anchor and Firehouse. Then came TGIF Rudy’s and the artificial attempt to move nostalgia into a new location. It failed. TGIF Rudy’s may be an adequate bar, but it has lost all traces of old Rudy’s, including the people that made old Rudy’s so vital, and the distinction is well worth making.
posted by: exnewhavener on March 26, 2013 2:26pm
I think a big part of the old / new Rudy’s problem is the new Rudy’s ridiculously priced beers.
$8 pints? Really? Come on now.
That being said, good luck to the new place. That strip on Chapel is getting downright depressing to walk past, and this will be great for it.
posted by: momnprof on March 26, 2013 2:42pm
Caseus is my favorite restaurant in new Haven, and my partner is a longtime old fan of Richters. Cannot wait!
posted by: justice on March 26, 2013 2:52pm
Looks great! The best of the old Richter’s with better food and drink. And good ice! I’m telling you, until you’ve had premium ice, you have not had a drink “on the rocks.” Looking forward to it!
posted by: robn on March 26, 2013 3:08pm
There aren’t as many dive bars downtown because New Haven’s downtown isn’t as sucky as it was in the 70s and 80s.
There are 184 Yellow Pages listings for bars in New Haven; find a sucky place and you’ll probably find a dive bar.
posted by: smackfu on March 26, 2013 3:44pm
I appreciate that they have shown such respect for the space. It’s easy to pull it down and start fresh, but loses everything.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on March 26, 2013 4:23pm
woah woah, robn, speak for yourself.
If downtown was so sucky in the 70s and 80s then how come the Little Theater on Lincoln Street was used to film porn and the Crown Theater showed porn?
All there is downtown now is the yuppy, Yale-oriented and uber expensive Criterion Theater. Where are all the scumbags supposed to go now, huh!?
Although I do actually miss the York Square Cinema on Broadway, Criterion does offer $6 movies all day Tuesday when you sign up for the free membership card. There are some advantages and disadvantages to a gentrifying downtown - some affordable locally-owned furniture, clothing and hardware stores haven gone out of business, but many seedy establishments have been replaced by family-friendly businesses.
posted by: streever on March 26, 2013 4:42pm
The issue I take with Atwater is the extreme negativity and nastiness of their opinion concerning places that are not even open. Ordinary is a cookie-cutter bar? Sure, I can see how this person knows that, without ever having stepped foot in it or having seen the actual space.
Those of us who enjoy non-dive bars are boorishly uptight? Sure, whatever floats their boat. Personally, I find the greatest boors to be people who insist that their subjective experiences are the only truth, and that experiences they have not even had, yet still reject out of hand, are so easily dismissed and knocked.
I think it is personally valid to prefer Elm Bar, or the former Rudy’s, or to even dislike Caseus or the current Rudy’s. I think, however, that we should at least acknowledge that these are our preferences, instead of painting a broad-brush and hiding our personal preferences behind open disdain and hostility towards others. I think if you don’t enjoy a restaurant, you can simply not enjoy that restaurant, you know? I don’t think you have to say the patrons are nitwits or boors.
posted by: Stylo on March 26, 2013 4:45pm
exnewhavener: that strip is looking a lot better now. J Press is only there temporarily, but hopefully something lands in that spot. But you have Shake Shack (a huge win for the green), Chipotle and now Ordinary opening up within 6 months. There are a couple spots open, but I bet you will see them fill fast. There are rumors of a few of the spaces filling this summer.
posted by: SB on March 26, 2013 5:03pm
In the comments, there’s a lot of arguing about the loss of New Haven’s “Dive Bars” (ie the Rudy’s to Elm Bar transition) and Richter’s to Ordinary is being seen within that context. I find that “Dive Bars” can be just as exclusive as the trendy bars are. If you aren’t similar to the people who are drinking there (dress too nice, order the wrong drink, speak too well, aren’t drunk enough, or god forbid are reading a newspaper or book) you’ll be made to feel like you don’t belong. So really, I believe the tension between the trendy bar and the dive bar are nothing more than class tensions. Downtown New Haven is changing into a wealthier place. Why shouldn’t the bars and eateries change with it?
posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 26, 2013 5:05pm
Very excited on this…although I kind of wish they could of set up in the old dinner on Chapel and Howe. But Cheese guy is New Haven and to have a place to enjoy this on the next level is a good thing. Good luck!
Atwater has a point, I like old Rudy’s why because you could walk in the door no matter where you just came from. There is something wonderful about a place that you do not have to get all gussyed up for. But I to love new Rudy’s :) Streever well said.
posted by: SB on March 26, 2013 5:28pm
Dive bars are being nostalgically presented as more egalitarian, accepting, and welcoming than trendy bars. I’ve been to plenty and I’m not buying it. Making the mistake of ordering say, a mojito at a dive bar and you could not only get some abuse from the bartender but could get a lot worse from a few of the drunk and surly regulars at the bar. On the flip side, you aren’t going to get your ass kicked by ordering a Coors Lite at a trendy upscale bar. I’ve gotten crap on a few occasions for reading a book at a dive bar. I’m like “hey, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I’m enjoying a reuben. F*&* off.” But then again, I’m 6’5” and can get away with that.
posted by: Wildwest on March 26, 2013 5:47pm
Arguing about opinions is like…. well, just plain silly. I cant wait to try it and I hope the pints are not 8 bucks or I will be a one time customer.
I didnt have a chance to hang out at the old Rudys but I have at the new one and its just another yuppie pub besides a few of the regular stragglers that knew their bar tabs would be extended at the new location.
posted by: Adam on March 26, 2013 6:08pm
No 80’s mixed drinks? No shots?? R u kiddin me???
posted by: Lallements Ghost on March 26, 2013 11:34pm
Atwater, I completely agree, however isn’t he just proving your point as he’s the prototypical example of what you’re describing?
posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on March 27, 2013 5:38am
I have yet to see a photo of Jason where he doesn’t look like he’s having a hell of a good time and inviting all and sundry to share it with him.
Rock on, Jason!
posted by: robn on March 27, 2013 6:35am
Love the photo and the bawdy irony of the parking lot sign hiding behind the telephone pole.
posted by: Atwater on March 27, 2013 7:26am
SB hit the nail on the head. This is about class distinctions and downtown New Haven (and East Rock, Wooster, Westville) are becoming increasingly homogenous in their socio-economic composition and thus the bars and restaurants cater to that demographic. That’s fine, a business is a business. But, it is also disappointing. Not to beat a dead horse, but Old Rudy’s seemed to welcome all people from just about every demographic in New Haven. There are bars similar to this that are still in existence, i.e. Chris Martins, Dempsey’s, Anna Liffey’s, Christy’s, etc. I don’t need to go into Ordinary to know that I wouldn’t feel comfortable there. I’ve been to places like it (i.e. Crown 316) and the atmosphere is stuffy and patrician. Not to mention the beer is over-priced and the place looks like a set from a Stanley Kubrick movie.
Also, I do not think that New Haven is becoming a wealthier place, only a small portion of the city is experiencing success, the rest of the city is floundering. If gentrification continues, the economic segregation will continue and downtown will become a mere playground for the privileged bourgeoisie and the Yalies. New Haven used to be a city where the working class could enjoy themselves in relative comfort and at times hob-knob with the landed gentry of Yale and their ilk. Not anymore. As places like Ordinar spring up the working class is reminded that they are no longer welcome downtown.
But then again it’s just one bar. Right?
posted by: robn on March 27, 2013 8:27am
Your mistakenly conflating gentrification and design. If you think mom and pop america don’t like design, take a look at what’s on the shelves at Target.
posted by: anonymous on March 27, 2013 8:47am
I think the name is cool, especially if you can get a free drink by reciting by heart a certain Wallace Stevens poem.
posted by: ElmJackCity on March 27, 2013 11:04am
Atwater, I can relate. When the staff at Yale who serve your meals get off work will they spend their money at a bar downtown? Do they deserve to be able to get off work, take a short walk to a local bar, and have a drink?
To have a watering hole where all can share experience and a little revelry…
If you can’t relate to that then you never were likely a part of it past studying abroad. It’s about being outside of a defined comfort zone. Gentrification is all about defining a comfort zone for one group of people.
Anywho, my 2 cents. I’ll check out Ordinary but I’ll miss Richter’s yards all the same.
posted by: DingDong on March 27, 2013 12:03pm
In the mind: the tin plate, the loaf of bread on it, The long-bladed knife, the little to drink and her Misericordia, it follows that Real and unreal are two in one: New Haven, before and after one arrives.
posted by: DingDong on March 27, 2013 1:44pm
There are an awful lot of vacant store fronts around town. If someone wants to open up a dive bar, there’s still plenty of room.
posted by: Stylo on March 27, 2013 3:51pm
I like the name and logo too. It could easily be a new hot spot in LES or Williamsburg. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by: ElmJackCity on March 27, 2013 3:51pm
Vacant storefronts you say? Don’t downtown businesses pay overhead to Town Green Special Services for that? LOL! Maybe they should start a grant for someone wanting to start a dive bar.
posted by: robn on March 27, 2013 9:32pm
What’s missing in this comment thread is the true meaning of “dive”. Its etymology has to do with shame and lowliness; “diving” into basement speakeasies. The term has been expropriated by trustafarians and dilettantes in the 80s-90s and 00s who like to think they’ve taken a walk on the wild side but who in reality, have never been on the edge and have never contrasted celebratory bliss with life threatening danger.
posted by: Atwater on March 28, 2013 7:41am
@streever: one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole barrel. Sure one person might defy the majority, but the majority still remains as such. Whether or not you are in fact a “yuppy” is beside the point. One cannot deny that there are class distinctions in New Haven and those distinctions are clearly seen when one examines the tenor of the local businesses, especially ones downtown. To not say that most of downtown’s bars/restaurants cater to a specific demographic (i.e. moneyed, “cultured”, and patrician) is to ignore a blatant fact. A workingperson can no longer buy groceries downtown, buy hardware or home goods, produce, or clothing (reasonably priced) and now they can’t even enjoy a cold beer after a long day of work, unless they want to shell out $6 or $7 dollars for the privilege.
I’m not an egalitarian, far from it. I am a person who is tired of the “haves” looking down on the “have-nots” and pushing them to the margins of society, both in New Haven and in the wider, more general sense. The culture of the bourgeoisie have made it impossible for the modest workers to live in the city, Ordinary is a facet of this culture, that’s why I am dubious about its opening.
posted by: HewNaven on March 28, 2013 7:56am
I think this town needs more meat and cheese and alcohol dispensaries. There’s not enough fuel for our vitriol! We’re in an energy crisis!
posted by: Curious on March 28, 2013 9:53am
Wait, so some people felt they didn’t belong at Rudy’s or Richter’s? Then don’t go there. Rudy’s and Richter’s were pretty much the antithesis of Gpscy, the Yale-only pub that’s run by graduate students on York Street.
There’s no more Rudy’s and Richter’s, but there is still a Gpscy, and Ordinary seems like more of the same…a 116-Crown type place. If it ends up being a Gpscy-like establishment, then no thanks.
I’ll reserve judgment until the place opens, but I am disappointed that it seems geared more for gownies than townies.
posted by: HhE on March 28, 2013 11:29am
Guys, it’s a bar.
posted by: DingDong on March 28, 2013 11:38am
While you are certainly right that downtown is gentrifying, the fact that “A workingperson can no longer buy groceries downtown, buy hardware or home goods, produce, or clothing” really has to do with the fact that Walmart, Target and all the suburban malls have taken retail out of downtown and put it in the suburbs. In fact, before the “yuppies” (Elm City Market), no one could buy groceries downtown.
posted by: SB on March 28, 2013 12:12pm
While reading through all this I realized something a little funny. For all the intelligence we’re displaying here (and there really is quite a bit of good thought going into this debate) we’re missing something key. Richter’s closed down. It went out of business. Not because it wanted to but because it couldn’t afford to stay open. I heard that for the last few years it was open, the owner kept saying “this’ll be my last year” and then the last year it was open, it was being kept open by the other bars downtown who were donating kegs (which I think is really touching). Not enough people were going to it – or it wasn’t selling enough to the people who were going to it – there were simple economic mechanics at work there. Intellectual arguments about right or wrong, best or worst mean little to nothing. Though it’s not the only factor, the good people of New Haven voting with their wallets is usually the biggest factor that keeps a New Haven business open. I loved Richter’s – loved it being there – did I go often? Not really – mostly because the food was terrible and the bar was usually packed with surly, rough-looking alcoholics who were downing $3 But Lites and plastic bottle McCormick whiskey. They came not out of local loyalty but because $3 But Lites etc. could be had there. If Richter’s had raised their prices, the alky’s would have moved on and others would have moved in. Maybe it wouldn’t have had to close down. Think about it – PRIME location, established, attractive, comfortable interior that’s rich with history. What went wrong? Has anyone ever considered that the cheap drinks brought in a crowd that drove everyone else out? Ever bring a pretty girl into a dive bar? Don’t. It goes over like Katy Perry visiting the boys in Cell Block 5. Every Joe at the bar loses his mind and stares like he’s never seen one before. Who wants to go to a place where girls can’t/won’t/don’t go?
posted by: robn on March 28, 2013 12:42pm
Can working people not afford groceries at the Stop&Shop; downtown?
posted by: Fairhavener on March 28, 2013 12:58pm
@Atwater: come to Fair Haven—plenty of the non-yuppy—, quite inexpensive, think $3 dollar beers, type bars you seek.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list: Porky’s (full bar and food), La Molienda (full bar and food), El Tapatio (beer/wine? and food), Carissa’s Cafe (almost re-opened, full bar and food), Macchu Picchu (beer and wine and food), Boat House Cafe, (just got their wine/beer license, serves food and lastly the Wagon Wheel Cafe (full bar, never been so not sure about the food).
Interestingly, most of these are either within walking distance, or a short 1-mile trip from Atwater Street. Not sure if you live on Atwater or not, but thought to mention that fact.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 28, 2013 1:44pm
ok I am going off topic here…
Robn…I can not afford stop and shop! I go there for a few things when they are on sale but I can not afford it. And I can not afford any of the shops downtown way out of my income bracket. So I at most times agree with you but have to agree with atwater on this.
Fairhavener WOW!! Ok ya see that is an impressive list and sounds very in my income bracket. I wish there was a way to market that community so that the people that do not live in could know about it hmmmm….If I remember correctly some of the business and residents had a great idea and I think there alderman thought is was to.
posted by: Atwater on March 28, 2013 2:02pm
@robn: I wouldn’t consider the Stop & Shop to be downtown. When I lived on State Street it was quite a walk and/or bus ride to get there, while the city’s center wasn’t as far. It would’ve been nice to have something there.
True, this is only a bar. And I am not advocating for “dive bars”, though some are nice, others are just trashy. I am advocating against the cultural homogenization of our fair city. And I am also advocating for an end to the socio-economic segregation that continues to expand as Yale expands and as moneyed interests flock to the more “desirable” districts of the city. Working people (myself included) cannot sustain themselves with the city’s high rents/property taxes, poor public transit and unavailability of essential goods and services. So, yeah it is just a bar. Or is it just another sign of a greater, and I would say dangerous, cultural shift. For me New Haven is becoming less and less attractive of a place to live. It almost feels as if a certain demographic is no longer welcome in the “nice” parts of town and must remain outside.
posted by: SB on March 28, 2013 2:17pm
**Conversation sliding sideways fast**
Ok folks, comeon, focus here - we’re talking about a bar - and debating the pros and cons of Dive Bars and Trendy Bars in light of the transition from Richter’s to Ordinary and Rudy’s to New Rudy’s. Next someone’s going to bring up Obama or Gun Control. : )
posted by: robn on March 28, 2013 2:36pm
I’m not sure how to respond except that a grocery on Dixwell was specifically pursued by the city because there are a lot of underserved, very poor (jobless) people in that area. If you’ve found a way to stretch your dollar elsewhere, thats great but, my anecdotal experience tells me that the S&S on Dixwell is patronized by many low-income people.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on March 28, 2013 3:41pm
There are definitely low income people that shop there. I for one do not have the same access to funds for food as others. So yes I have to make every dollar stretch. (that was the nice way of saying it).
I get all my meats and frozen vegs at Ferraro’s My can goods I go to at least 4 different stores for and my hair care products (top of the line products)have not paid for in years because I rock the coupons. Working poor is what the call it.
posted by: robn on March 28, 2013 4:04pm
I’m not exactly sure where “downtown” officially ends but even if you use the most conservative definition (the 9 squares), S&S is an 11 minute walk from York and Elm.
Good businesses that yeild as much income as they can do not hurt New Haven, they help it by increasing property values, generating more taxes and providing jobs; remember that New Haven taxpayers are bearing an excrutiating debt load to support a new school system in the hopes that we can recruit better teachers and so that families can be lifted out of poverty. The only way out of this debt is to increase our grand list and you’re not going to do that by resenting and/or supressing downtown values. Look at it this way, you’ve got two world class art museums that are free, an arts festival thats free, concerts on the green that are free, one of the biggest per capita park systems that is free; a beautiful town beach that is free; access to many university lectures that are free; a great public library system with internet access that is free; my point being that $3 beers downtown isn’t a big priority for a struggling city thats trying to improve itself.
posted by: JuliS on March 28, 2013 5:58pm
the people complaining that there aren’t enough ‘dive’ bars where ‘regular’ people can get a drink: wasn’t richter’s one of them? and didn’t they close because they were struggling?
if you want to argue that there should be more of those type of businesses downtown, it seems silly to do it on a comment section of an article about a new type of restaurant opening precisely where the type of one you are advocating for failed.
i wish these folks all the best in their new endeavor. it sounds like a nice place to relax to me, whether i am dressed up for a night on the town, or fresh off a long bike ride, or just getting out of work.
posted by: REM on March 29, 2013 10:21am
So I’m reading all these comments and I’m sort of confused…to those who say they prefer a dive bar and miss “old” Rudy’s, Elm Bar is open in that very spot and doing well. There is still music on thurs and sat nights, cheap beer (as well as fancier stuff), and a mix of the casual and less casual crowd. Everything you say you miss about downtown dives… these things are alive and well at Elm Bar.
That said, everyone’s tastes are different. Go where you feel comfortable. If you want dive bars to exist, you have to go to them to keep them in business. :) If others enjoy a tad more upscale bar, who cares? To each their own. But I will say this, as divey as Elm Bar is, we don’t mind when people order martinis or read a book in the corner. I have many patrons who do so and no one “gives them crap”. LOL.
Off-shift, I enjoy a variety of bars. I think that Ordinary is going to be a bit fancy but still comfortable- we’ll have to see when it opens. We get attached to our haunts, especially when we thought they’d always be there, waiting. But when it’s time to move on, animosity for the new is futile and you may just miss out by not giving it a chance.
posted by: Abdelnoir on March 29, 2013 5:43pm
@ Streever… funny you pointing out the boorish behavior of others while using terms like “trash dump” to describe the places you don’t care for.
posted by: SB on March 30, 2013 10:57am
I made a pretty controversial statement above (which I do believe to be true) and nobody jumped on it! In short I claimed that Richter’s may have gone out of business BECAUSE it had become primarily a “dive bar” and may have lasted if it had gentrified itself a bit (raised their prices to drive out the alkys). Many of the early commenters (who may have dropped out of the discussion by now) were stating that it had such value to downtown BECAUSE it was a dive bar - and I’m saying it may have closed for the same reason - and no one seemed to notice! (pouting) Anyway, in long form this was my point (to save you from scrolling up): “I loved Richter’s – loved it being there – did I go often? Not really – mostly because the food was terrible and the bar was usually packed with surly, rough-looking alcoholics who were downing $3 But Lites and plastic bottle McCormick whiskey. They came not out of local loyalty but because $3 But Lites etc. could be had there. If Richter’s had raised their prices, the alky’s would have moved on and others would have moved in. Maybe it wouldn’t have had to close down. Think about it – PRIME location, established, attractive, comfortable interior that’s rich with history. What went wrong? Has anyone ever considered that the cheap drinks brought in a crowd that drove everyone else out? Ever bring a pretty girl into a dive bar? Don’t. It goes over like Katy Perry visiting the boys in Cell Block 5. Every Joe at the bar loses his mind and stares like he’s never seen one before. Who wants to go to a place where girls can’t/won’t/don’t go?”
posted by: HhE on March 30, 2013 10:40pm
I am impressed by the amount of thought that has gone into a discussion about a bar.
SB, I found your post not “controversial,” but rather very sensible and compelling.
Maybe why many stores and service establishments prefer to cater to the well healed is that they have more money to spend?
If anyone really wishes to go to a dive bar, my I recommend the Taurus Cafe on Winchester?
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on March 31, 2013 2:28pm
My guess is that the dive bar supporters would say the Taurus is an “urban” bar (I’ll let you figure out what “urban” means). Just like the affordable clothing stores downtown like Renderzous or Blue Nile are “urban” and not “working class”, or all the affordable grocers and delis in the Ninth Square aren’t for “working” people, but for other groups without much disposable income. No one can deny that downtown is changing, but constant change is precisely what defines downtowns - the Ninth Square used to have only large lot single family homes afterall! There are still affordable places to shop for clothes, groceries, and drinks downtown despite many of these changes, but I suspect that a slightly misplaced sense of nostalgia has played an overly large role in many of the contrarian comments aimed at Ordinary in this article.