Adil Chokairy is hoping that if you’re famished before or after a busy day of shopping in the Broadway District, you’ll fuel up with a crêpe.
On Thursday, Chokairy, along with Yale University Properties and city officials, cut the ribbon on his newest eatery, a kiosk called Crêpes Choupette on the Broadway parking lot island. It is his third restaurant venture in the Elm City since he started selling crêpes from a bike-propelled cart back in 2014.
His latest venture is bigger than the bike cart he started with but a bit smaller than his other two restaurants on Whitney Avenue, Choupette Crêperie and the Swiss-inspired cheese restaurant Au Chalet. The new kiosk at 56 Broadway is uniquely positioned in the center of the Broadway District, with the new home of L.L. Bean rising across from it on Elm Street, and Patagonia and other stores positioned across from it on Broadway. This is his third lease with Yale Properties.
City Economic Development Administrator Matt Nemerson said what Yale and the city have achieved a retail mix in the Broadway District that you’re more likely to see in larger cities. He noted that Chokairy, who he joshed is building an “empire,” adds to the sophistication.
“When we think about New Haven, one of the things that we keep trying to educate people is that this is not a larger Branford. This is a smaller Boston,” Nemerson said. “And the only way that happens is by having the continued imagination to bring an Apple store, to bring in L.L. Bean, to bring a Patagonia.”
Chokairy demurred on whether or not he is building an empire.
“I don’t think it’s an empire,” he said. “I think it’s more pressure, and I didn’t achieve anything yet. Work is still ahead of me. I don’t want to disappoint.”
Branford has had tow creperies fail, (Creme de la Crepe most recently) so this may decide if New Haven is, in fact a smaller Boston, or a bigger Branford.
posted by: brownetowne on February 1, 2018 3:26pm
Hey Nemerson: I don’t think it takes a lot of “imagination” to bring three large national retail chains to the heart of our downtown shopping district. I’d say it’s the exact opposite.
On the other hand, I’m sincerely impressed with the imagination needed to construct a new outdoor kiosk in that underutilized location for the purpose of housing a crepe eatery. We need to see more of this in NH, and less of the Apple store thing.
posted by: __quinnchionn__ on February 1, 2018 4:50pm
I would hope that 9th Square, Church Street South and Long Wharf turn out to be similar if not better than what Broadway is currently. New Haven is much larger than the area in which Yale owns. In terms of attractions there should be some more of everything in the city. New Haven = A smaller Boston, New York, Charlotte, D.C, Atlanta and San Francisco.
posted by: 1644 on February 1, 2018 6:05pm
Browne: Apple stores are few and far between. New Haven is extremely lucky to have one. I used to have to drive to West Farms for Apple service. Now, everyone from Madison, Cheshire, Milford, etc., comes to New haven for their Apple stuff. That’s a lot of folks who wouldn’t otherwise come to new haven, folks who eat crepes (we hope). :)
posted by: Pat from Westville on February 2, 2018 5:51am
Actually it’s a relief that something other than yet another clothing store is opening. I’ve come to think of Broadway as Yale’s Garment District.
posted by: JCFremont on February 2, 2018 8:29am
The crepe’s sold each year at the Connecticut Open Tennis Tournament are always the best bang for the buck. I always wonder how an operator of a brick and mortar restaurant feels about the competition of the towns love of food trucks especially the ones on Whitney Avenue that park outside a restaurant?
posted by: LorcaNotOrca on February 2, 2018 9:06am
This is a great addition to Broadway, a nice looking structure, and best of all it’s a local business. Seems to be open later than the Whitney Ave. location too, which is also a plus. Perfect way to nab the foot traffic. Best of luck to them.
posted by: Stylo on February 2, 2018 9:31am
No @brownetowne, we need both. That’s what makes cities successful.
Congrats to Adil, a wonderful person. I wish him success!
posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on February 2, 2018 10:21am
And here I thought, when they were building it, that it was a bus shelter.
posted by: opin1 on February 2, 2018 11:28am
This is a great addition to Broadway, nice work. Speaking of the Broadway shopping area, does anyone know the status of the old J. Press building on York? I think they demolished the building about 4 years ago, and it’s looked like a construction site ever since.
posted by: HewNaven on February 2, 2018 12:13pm
It takes imagination to sustain local businesses in an era of Amazon and Wal-Mart. Nemerson would rather team up with Yale to create a DISNEYLAND effect for parents and students alike. Great Job, guys! You really love New Haven.
as a city resident and long-time skateboard enthusiast, i feel compelled to comment here and memorialize the “broadway bump,” one of the downtown’s best meet-up spots. RIP.
posted by: wendy1 on February 2, 2018 4:13pm
City still has some mom and pops….good thing.
posted by: 1644 on February 3, 2018 1:04pm
HewHaven: I am not sure what you are trying to say. This business is local, and a result of Yale’s, and, possibly, Nemerson’s efforts, although I suspect it was mostly Zucker and Alexander. You are right that Yale wants what you call a “Disneyland”, and what I call a “Potemkin village” effect. Broadway, and to a lesser extent Whitney, have always been populated by businesses that cater to Yalies, not townies. In my school days, there were Broadway as well as York pizza, David Dean Smith stereo, Tyco printers, Blue Jay cleaners, Whitlock’s Typewriter repair, Whitlock’s rare books, Liggett’s Drug Store, Phil’s barbershop, Quality Wine Shop (a favorite for kegs), Cutler’s and Rhymes Records and clothing (blue jeans and flannel shirts for all) , plus some army surplus, Yankee Doodle and the Educated Burger (which I think replaced the cleaners), plus, of course, the Co-op. Before my day, the place was dominated by men’s furnishers, like J Press, Gentree’s, the shoe store,White’s and something with an F where Gant is now. I think White’s was replaced by Wawas in my day. All these business catered to Yalie’s. Alexander has tried to shift the focus more upscale, appealing to Woodbridge suburbanites, in part because students are gone 5 months of the year, and in part because he wants to area to look good to aspirational students, even if they cannot actual afford to shop there.
posted by: HewNaven on February 6, 2018 11:42am
You are absolutely right about this. “Potemkin Village” is a much more appropriate label for the Shops at Yale.
From the Wikipedia entry:
A Potemkin village is any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is. The term comes from stories of a fake portable village built only to impress Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1787.
The Shops are there to impress potential Yalies and their parents, to reassure current students from elite backgrounds, and to entice suburban shoppers who believe New Haven is dangerous. It’s highly-orchestrated and dangerously synthetic.