Blue State Replacer revives the cafe plan


Photo of Christmas Sims

Former pharmacy site: New coffee still in barrels.

File photo of Allan Appel

Common Grounds co-owner Dena Jara and attorney James Perito with coffee photos at an East Rock executive team meeting in November 2018.

A The ‘Common Grounds’ cafe duo are still planning to open a long-delayed new cafe at the former East Rock Pharmacy site on Orange Street – even as their growing business takes over three now closed Blue State Coffee locations in the center -town and on the hill.

It’s the latest caffeine-fueled cafe with a Connecticut coffee company rapidly expanding its local presence, and another rapidly closing (most of) its doors in New Haven.

The growing coffee business is called Common Grounds.

The business, run by Northford-based couple Wilson and Dena Jara, has already opened stores in Branford and Hamden, as well as two in Shelton.

On Friday, the Yale Daily News reported that Common Grounds would take over three longtime Blue State cafes at 84 Wall St., 276 York St. and 320 Congress Ave.

Sims Christmas Pictures

The now closed former Blue State Coffee on Wall St.

Common Grounds, coming soon to Wall and other spots.

As of 5 p.m. today, we are permanently closing our cafes” at these three New Haven locations, Blue State Coffee posted on its Facebook page Friday afternoon. Blue State will, however, keep its current location at 534 Orange St. open, as well as its Hartford and Providence stores.

A sign posted at the location of the Wall Street cafe on Monday says Common Grounds Coffee Roasters & Fine Teas will be opening there soon. Another sign posted in the same location reads: Blue State Coffee is a family business and we believe now is the right time for this change. We appreciate our owner, Yale University Properties, for their incredible support over the years and for helping to make this transition a smooth one. A new tenant will begin operations at this location later this month.

Read more about the sudden closure of three Blue State stores here in the Yale Daily News.

View inside the 763 Orange shipyard.

The upcoming Common Grounds takeover of these three former Blue State sites raises the question of yet another cafe the Jaras have been trying to open for years.

This is the old storefront of the East Rock Pharmacy at 763 Orange St.

Since the end of 2018, the Jaras have been planning to open a new Common Grounds site on this former pharmacy site. They bought the three-story building for $878,000 in April 2019 and won zoning relief from the Board of Zoning Appeals later that year to allow 20 spaces in the future cafe and sell baked goods. in a residential area.

Three years later, the old pharmacy site remains a half-completed construction area.

The Independent was looking into the latest Orange Street coffee project when the Yale Daily News broke news of Common Grounds plans to take over Blue Street Coffee’s three local locations.

So. What’s up with the East Rock Pharmacy-café conversion?

In an email comment sent to the Independent this week, Wilson Jara said the pandemic had delayed construction of the cafe at 763 Orange St. He said he hoped to open the new cafe there in February 2023. He also said he hopes to reopen the three former Blue State Coffee locations as soon as he obtains the necessary permits and plans to work with the former Blue State Coffee. employees.

Jara added that the recently opened Atticus Market just across the street has not affected our plans” to open a Common Grounds cafe on the East Rock Pharmacy site. We are thrilled to be part of the East Rock community,” said Jara.

The Independent also contacted the city’s building manager, Jim Turcio, last week to ask if he had any updates on the half-completed construction work on the future cafe site. Turcio told this reporter that the Jaras are still working very slowly on the building.

Although the property’s windows are covered in paper, a glass door reveals the progression inside. Tools, ladders and tarps scatter what Wilson Jara hopes will be the fully operational cafe.

According to the city’s online building permit records, the Jaras have obtained two building permits for the former pharmacy site so far this year. One, obtained in April, relates to the renovation of the basement of the site to allow storage. The other, from June, will allow the installation of an accessible elevator.

This reporter recently dropped by the adjacent and always bustling outdoor seating area of ​​Atticus Market to see what this grocery store’s customers think of the opening of a new cafe just across the block. A loyal customer of Atticus, who declined to share her name for this story, said Atticus is a great corporate citizen” and that a new cafe would certainly reduce their activity.

Another customer who also declined to share his name for this article said having two cafes on the same corner would be redundant, like having two gas stations. She suggested that the old pharmacy site could be better served by a new restaurant.

According to this recent Shelton Herald article, the Jaras opened their first Common Grounds site in Branford 25 years ago.

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