News Haven Closing; Panera Taking Its Place

Thomas MacMillan PhotoAfter 20 years of weekly visits to News Haven on Chapel street, Bob Breitenstien will have to find a new source for the latest on British grouse-hunting.

Breitenstien (pictured) was among loyal customers of the downtown newspaper and magazine outlet grousing about the latest sign of the times Friday: A Panera Bread bakery-cafe is moving in, and News Haven is moving out.

The popular cafe chain is moving into a 4,000 square-foot space at 1060 Chapel St. next to Starbucks near the corner of High, according to John Wareck, whose family real estate firm owns the building.

Part of the space is now empty. The Allegra photocopying shop used to occupy it. The rest of the space is occupied by News Haven, which has sold newspapers and magazines there from around the world for the past 30 years.

Navin Jani, who has owned News Haven for the past 12 years, said Friday he plans to vacate the space in mid-October. He said he doesn’t fault the owner for bringing in Panera rather than renewing his lease.

“He was good to me. He has to do his business,” said Jani, although he did want to remain in the space.

Panera is the latest chain to come to downtown New Haven. A Shake Shack opened earlier this month; a Chipotle Mexican Grill outlet is opening a block away to 900 Chapel St.

Wareck said Friday he doesn’t yet have an opening date for Panera, which he said has already signed a lease. Wareck’s company has to wait until News Haven moves out to begin retrofitting that space.

Jani said he does not plan to reopen News Haven elsewhere.

Wareck said Jani’s lease expired 18 months ago. Jani wanted it renewed. Wareck said he lowered the newsstand’s rent as the Internet cannibalized the store’s business—in an era when people can get the latest issue of Le Monde, for instance, immediately online rather than have to wait for it to be shipped to a newsstand in New Haven.

Some people still prefer to hold the dead-tree versions in their hand. Among them is the 76-year-old Breitenstien. The Woodbridge man, wearing a waxed canvas jacket, shorts, and wielding a wooden cane, popped into News Haven Friday afternoon to see if the latest issues of two British periodicals were in. Breitenstein is a loyal reader of “The Field” and “Country Life,” which he called “the most bloody civilized magazines in the whole store.”

News Haven stocks hundreds of titles on a wide variety of subjects—music, science, cars, pornography, news, art. Jani, who’s 60, prides himself on stocking magazines that can’t be found anywhere else nearby. He said the store stocks magazines and newspapers in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Croatian.

“You name it, we got it,” he said.

“I had a good time,” Jani said of his 12 years running the store. “People were nice.”

Jani, who commutes to work from his home in Queens, said the closure of his shop is just the latest example of a big corporation pushing out a small local store. He predicted Panera’s arrival would mark the end of other local business—sandwich shops that will lose their customers.

He also predicted Panera won’t draw the interest that his store has. “I’m the guy who brings a lot of traffic here,” he said.

Jani said he was offered another spot for his business, two blocks down Chapel towards the Green. He said he turned it down. “People down there don’t buy the magazines. They steal the magazines.”

“I heard they’re forcing you out,” said Bryan Coburn, a security guard at the Yale Center for British Art who said he often comes in for Diet Dr. Pepper and the New York Post. “That’s not right.”

“That’s a bummer,” said Breitenstein. “That’s a bad deal.”

He said News Haven is the only place in town to buy certain magazines. “New Haven doesn’t even really have a shoe store. It’s a city where no one wears shoes. And now nobody reads periodicals.”

“It’s an amazing selection,” said Nico Silins, 35-year-old from Ithaca, NY, who picked up a copy of Le Nouvel Observateur, a French news magazine. He said he’s a skateboarder who lived in France for four years, and was happy to see that News Haven has a good selection of both French magazines and skateboarding magazines. “They have everything here.”

Jani said he plans to put a sign in the window on Monday announcing the closure, and will shut his doors finally on Oct. 15. In the meantime, people have been finding out one-by-one at the cash register.

A woman buying a Coke offered her condolences. “We’re going to miss you.”

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posted by: RCguy on September 28, 2012  2:42pm

NewsHaven is awesome. It will be missed. Wait a minute, the building owner is kicking NewsHaven out rather than NewsHaven closing of it’s own accord?

posted by: FromTheHill on September 28, 2012  2:53pm

What a sad day.  I hate these chain places.  There making our city’s into suburban malls.

posted by: Stylo on September 28, 2012  3:08pm

Meh, a character-less addition to that block, which is gorgeous and has an old world feel. I guess it’s better than empty storefronts, but Panera would’ve been more fitting in the empty space next to the OTHER Starbucks where it could join BWW, Chipotle, and Shake Shack.

posted by: PH on September 28, 2012  3:08pm

Why would anyone go to Panera when Atticus is right there?  I’ll be supporting the locally owned business, not the Au Bon Pain Corporation.

posted by: Adam on September 28, 2012  3:13pm

News Haven has been a Downtown fixture since I was a teenager and it will be missed. And to replace it with a chain like Panera bread just adds to the commercialization of the area directly around the Green. Small, ecclectic shops is what this city was built on. Keep the chains where they belong like Hamden & North Haven.

posted by: anonymous on September 28, 2012  3:20pm

That’s too bad - hopefully someone else will open a good news stand. Maybe Book Trader could carry more magazines? Even though Panera competes with other local businesses, on the whole, it will probably bring more traffic to the area. The problem with that is that it will result in higher rents - which means that in the future, more local shops may be replaced by chain stores until the area eventually looks like Harvard Square.

posted by: ISR on September 28, 2012  8:06pm

Ugh. Panera, the home of faux artisanship.

posted by: HhE on September 28, 2012  8:32pm

What a shame.  NewsHaven is not just our best source for periodicals, it is the best news stand I have ever been to.

posted by: MsMoneypenny on September 28, 2012  10:44pm

Well, this is depressing.

Miss the 1980s and 1990s when most of the stores in New Haven were Mom & Pop stores. Chapel St. (and much of the rest of New Haven) is turning into a mall. I’m sticking to independently owned stores/restaurants, thank you very much!

I could see the writing on the wall every time I went in News Haven lately. Fewer titles, employee looking disgruntled, didn’t even look like they were trying.

posted by: Gauss on September 28, 2012  11:29pm

While I am sad to see Panera move in (so many chains moving into downtown all at once!), I must say that I never found News Haven particularly friendly. Yes, they stock magazines you cannot find in other places but the “no browsing” signs and security cameras throughout never made it a comfortable place for me to shop. I subscribe to the magazines I am really interested in. I do wish something more interesting than a Panera’s would move in, though, and wish the owners all the best.

posted by: Jim VC on September 28, 2012  11:39pm

What’s next.. an Olive Garden at Viva Zapata

posted by: stuckinNH on September 29, 2012  7:57am

savitt’s jewelers, and now nh magazine….and yet nh residents still keep voting in destefano????  uunbelievable!!!!!!!!!

posted by: Cinderella on September 29, 2012  10:15am

Panera is probably a steady and good tenant. Pay the rent on time and pay what the landlords need to get to pay NH taxes, which are OUTRAGEOUS. So, kudos to the Wareck family for snagging them. The real skinny on this latest food debacle is that city property taxes are forcing these landlords to snag the chains that can pay up.
BTW,  where is there a decent downtown breakfast/pancake/egg place?? Hint, hint, Mr Wareck, check out Portland OR and see their Mom and Pop Indie Bistros and cafes———“Mothers Bistro and Cafe” so good Alice Waters eats there.

posted by: Cinderella on September 29, 2012  10:19am

Oops, forget to mention the NewsHaven is one of the reasons the block even has any panache. What this store offers you can only find in NYC. Will miss it terribly.

posted by: ramonesfan on September 29, 2012  10:26am

I used to like browsing through the newspapers and magazines before the original owners sold the store.  They would allow people some time to look before making a purchase.  The new owners aren’t as accommodating, and can be downright brusque to customers at times.  That attitude probably hurt their business.

posted by: streever on September 29, 2012  7:00pm

The real tragedy is that Panera is barely a place where you can buy food—their disgusting concoctions don’t qualify.

The other tragedy is that Jani wouldn’t move. A few blocks down is going to ruin his business? I wouldn’t bet on that.

posted by: Lifer on September 29, 2012  10:29pm

Panera dumps their factory-made soup from a giant plastic bag into a heating vat.  I’ll continue to take my business to Claire’s and Atticus, thankyouverymuch.

posted by: MsMoneypenny on September 30, 2012  8:42am

Agree wholeheartedly, ramonesfan. I’ve heard customers being scolded and leaving in a huff. Not the best way to conduct business.

And I don’t understand WHY a move just a block or two away wasn’t an option. I surely would have continued to go there. I just got the feeling that ownership was indifferent. Felt that way for quite a while.  I wish a more proactive owner had had the place.

posted by: MsMoneypenny on September 30, 2012  8:54am

And I will stick to mom and pop stores/restaurants as long as New Haven has them!!!

posted by: anonymous on September 30, 2012  7:39pm

Stick to the mom and pops- in the end, it is up to us to support people who live in town, instead of sending our money to Saudi investors. A dollar spent at a local owned business is several times more likely to stay local, supporting your neighbors instead of some new development in the Saudi desert. I hope people protest in front of the new chains to help expose their internal practices.

posted by: just my view on September 30, 2012  11:00pm

Why is Panara the bad guy here???  The owner commutes from NYC daiy (with today’s fuel prices, the business is circling the drain due to lack of customers, the landlord has allowed him to pay lower rent for months and months, he has been offered a space down the street and declined - but Panara catches the beating?

Golly… Where is a big corporation pushing out gne small guy. He doesn’t have a viable business model anymore,

posted by: HhE on September 30, 2012  11:17pm

“Stick to the mom and pops- in the end, it is up to us to support people who live in town,...”

I agree.

“...instead of sending our money to Saudi investors.”


” A dollar spent at a local owned business is several times more likely to stay local,...”


“... supporting your neighbors instead of some new development in the Saudi desert.”

Come again?

“I hope people protest in front of the new chains to help expose their internal practices.”

How about just informing us, with perhaps some credible sources, peer reviewed articles, or studies.

posted by: newsreader on October 1, 2012  9:03am

News Haven was a great place to purchase obscure magazine and out of town newspapers years ago but the current owner probably lost a lot of customers with their policy of no browsing, security cameras, and bad customer service. I’m an avid reader and will spend a pretty penny on magazines, newspapers but when I was told by an employee of News Haven to leave the store and wasn’t given an explaination at all,other to assume it was my ethnicity and race, I vowed to never give them a dime of my money!!! With the attitude of the owner that if he moved the stand two blocks away from his current location “they” don’t buy magazines, “they ” steal them was out of line and his sterotyping is not needed in New Haven. God definitely doesn’t like ugly…good luck and God bless to Mr. Jani…

posted by: streever on October 1, 2012  9:57am

@Just my View
I’m actually with you on that, in that I don’t see Panera as a “bad guy” in a conflict with a “good guy”.

The people I see competing with them are the local casual lunch places.

Panera makes awful factory grade industrialized food which (bizarrely) many otherwise informed and educated palates claim to love—I think because the marketing distinguishes it from McDonalds—but the food is nearly identical, from similar sources and with similar ill-effects.

McDonalds: Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit(Regular Size Biscuit)
4.9 oz (140 g) 420 calories 210 from fat

At Panera, a similar breakfast is the bacon, egg, & cheese on a ciabatta roll (they do not offer anything lower calorie)
6.5oz (187g) with 510 calories!  220 from fat

Chicken sandwiches are even worse: the Panera grilled chicken sandwiches are 700 calories +. At McDonalds, a grilled chicken sandwich clocks in at UNDER 500 calories. (Crispy (aka breaded and fried) chicken sandwiches are STILL lower in calories than the Panera, at sub 600)

You’d actually have to order a turkey breast sandwich at Panera to have a lunch as low-calorie as many of the McDonalds sandwich offerings.

My view is that we shouldn’t be happy or excited about mediocre food, which purely tastes good because the bread they use is literally crammed full of cheese, salt, and sugar, but should instead continue to support local producers of healthy bread like Whole G.

posted by: streever on October 1, 2012  10:34am

@news reader
absolutely! I read that comment in the story and was horrified. TWO BLOCKS is not a war zone—two blocks from him, toward the green, is absolutely not a dangerous place. Prime 16, Temple Grill, the Omni, are hardly a war-torn land.

Good riddance to attitudes like that.

Still, Panera, UGH.

posted by: HhE on October 1, 2012  11:48am

Well said streever.  I have eaten at a Panera, and now I know why I liked it.  Yuck. 

I don’t see anyone as a bad guy here.  Mr. Jani has a none viable business; customer service (or lack there of) and his commute may or may not be the a greater issue than the changing times and technology.  I can certainly see why a landlord would rather rent out an entire space than just part of it. 

I do not care for chain restaurants, and I am saddened that the trend in our city is moving away from interesting a really good mom and pops to something a lot more same-same corporate you-can-find-it-anywhere.

posted by: Pedro Soto on October 1, 2012  1:01pm

Several people have already said, what I would say about this, but I do want to say that the arrival of chains to the city is not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it validates the downtown revival that is happening here, and that has now attracted national attention.

I have long stated that the arrival of the Apple Store would set a cascade effect down the line for renewed interest in New Haven’s downtown scene, and we are now seeing the results of this. Shake Shack, Chipotle and Panera are all chains that never would have considered the New Haven market and would have been content in the suburbs.

None of this is going to make small business life in downtown new haven any less competitive, but that’s not a bad thing.

National chains have to bring their “A” game to the city, or else fail just like any other business, or do people forget Cold Stone Creamery and Quiznos?

National chains also don’t automatically mean the end of local chains.  Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts didn’t kill independent coffee in the city. Look how many new coffee shops we have in the city today.

Atticus will certainly have some competition on their hands, but I think they are up to the challenge. They are going to have to improve their customer service, however. A quick lunch there is never “quick.” But again, this is competition. This is what business is all about.

posted by: MsMoneypenny on October 1, 2012  6:38pm

It’s the Disneyfication of New Haven and I’d rather shun corporate food places/book places, etc. I might try Shake Shack sometime out of curiosity but I am FAR more likely to patronize Louis’ Lunch for hamburgers, Educated Burgher for sandwiches, Book Trader Cafe for coffee/tea and books, etc. etc. etc. The Apple Store was a nice addition, I will admit, but where am I going to get my magazines???

And @newsreader, I so agree with you. I’ve heard customers be yelled at in News Haven. NOT the best way to conduct a business. I wish someone else could have taken over and made it like it USED to be.

posted by: Chip on October 1, 2012  8:42pm

So very sorry to see News Haven go. They were one of the last great longstanding businesses left on Chapel St after Copper Kitchen, Savitt, Seychelles, etc. They were not just a magazine store but a community spot where people could stop for a minute to mix and discuss local and national affairs. That won’t happen at a chain. Don’t know if Tony is still there but he was a great local character and full of local and magazine knowledge. They’ll be missed big time. Shop local!!!

posted by: jcp on October 1, 2012  9:25pm

This reminds me of when the small group of stores on College St. closed due to impending development.  That development never happened but maybe this is the fallout?  Losing independent stores to mega chains=losing our character.

posted by: Bill Saunders on October 1, 2012  10:33pm

When Dominoes moves to Wooster Street, we will all know the endgame is very near….

posted by: CDaniel on October 2, 2012  12:19pm

With the advent of smartphones it it now easier to find niche magazine content online. I’ll miss News Haven because of the sensory overload that would overcome me every time I would look for something on the racks.

As for Panera, they have a fan base. I think the competition will be good for the local places. Yes, they will be selling breads and pastries, and their loaf breads are excellent. However, locals know that brear at Atticus is made on James St…......not to mention when Atticus runs out of a dressing for a salad it is because they make a small batch by hand and need to make more (or when Claire’s runs out of their homemade Cuban Black Bean Soup that means there is no more of that particular soup for the day - and there isn’t a 2 gallon plastic bag of soup to replace it like at Panera).

If someone wants convenience and the efficiency of food-assembly (or as I like to call it , McFood), places like Panera, Papa John’s, Dunkin Donuts are for them. I know that if I want great bread I go to Atticus (or ElmCity Market), or if I want a vegetarian lunch made from scratch I go to Claire’s.

I just cant see my aunt doing away with her coffee table magazines for a single solitary iPad.

posted by: MsMoneypenny on October 2, 2012  3:19pm

I used to love Copper Kitchen. “Sigh”

And Bill Saunders- lol, excellent point!!!!