The closing of Clark's Dairy, and the news that Rudy's will be relocating to a location that bears absolutely no resemblance to the place it's been since it opened in 1934, have bummed me out significantly, but I think I can handle it. What made me realize I had to snap out of it (particularly in regard to Clark's) was the act of stumbling on a copy of Enjoying New Haven: A Guide to the Area, by Betsy Sledge and Eugenia Fayen.

This is a little paperback that I remember my parents having a copy of in the late 1980s. I don't think I ever looked at it then but I do remember throwing it out when they moved out of their apartment downtown. The edition I remember -- and which is now sitting on the desk next to me -- is from 1989 and was published by Sledge and Fayen as East Rock Press, Ltd., and it is a fine little guide to the city with some really lovely prints. I found a copy of it a couple of Saturdays ago. I had spent the day at the Institute Library, a wonderful quiet place to go when you need a place that's wonderful and quiet, and on leaving, I went into the English Building Market, which is a couple of doors down. I cruise the place fairly regularly but hardly ever do I look at the books; however, this book caught my eye: I thought, "Oh, what the hell," and bought it.

So let me tell you: reading a guide to New Haven from 1989 is a trip. It's really a strange experience. I found myself remembering shops that I had really and truly forgotten about, though they were once landmarks of downtown New Haven. Scribbles, a shop on Chapel Street, beneath the Yale Center for British Art: you went there for stupid doodads, stickers, obscene greeting cards, and other things no sane person would spend money on. I'd forgotten all about that place. And what makes that awful is, I actually worked there briefly. For about two days. The job was so deplorable that, at the age of 16, I phoned them and said, "Yeah, hi, I won't be coming in. No, I don't need to pick up the paycheck. Keep it." I never wanted to set foot in there again.

How could I have forgotten about Scribbles? And yet I did.

The guide mentions Gentree's, a fairly dignified restaurant that used to be on York Street, in a building that no longer exists because Yale tore it down. It was on York near Chapel, a site now housing the new part of the Art and Architecture school. Gentree's was originally a men's clothing store; I own an overcoat from there, which I acquired at a tag sale on Orange Street simply because I wanted an article of clothing with the Gentree's label. The men's shop closed, and somehow Gentree's was re-conceived as a restaurant, the kind of place where you could get decent burgers and serious drinks. Plants; dark wood; 80s yuppie heaven. Gentree's closed, and I was sad; it wasn't that it was such a great restaurant, but it was reliable. Fitzwilly's, which was on the corner of Park and Elm Streets, was a similar establishment, but much larger, and I was very sorry when they closed, too.

And the Old Heidelberg! Which is now a Thai restaurant! How can it be that the Old Heidelberg is a Thai restaurant? Well, it is the case, my friends. Been that way since 1991. Which means that the Old Heidelberg has been gone for almost twenty years. Which means that there's at least one generation of people to whom that space has "always" been a Thai restaurant.

A sobering thought.

New Haven is, I suspect, no different from any other small city, or even town, in this regard: any business establishment that opens and then lasts longer than three to five years becomes, simply out of its survival, an institution. Some institutions are more entrenched than others: Rudy's may thrive in its new spot, but it won't be Rudy's, really; it'll be something else -- but even so, you know that for the next ten years, there will be people sitting around bars around town going, "Man, remember Rudy's, that night when...." I know that's how it is with the Grotto, a club on lower Crown Street that closed in I think 1988 or maybe it was 1989. New Haven is filled with sentimental chumps like me who remember every club, every restaurant they ever ate at, every store where they ever bought shoes, and lament their closings. If you don't believe me, there is proof on Facebook, even about the shoe store: Cheryl Andresen's shop Solemate, which started on State Street and moved to York Street, is much missed by many. I still wear shoes I bought from Cheryl and her shop closed in 2000. Are people more sentimental in New Haven than in other places? I have no idea. But when I meet someone who has been here a long time, inevitably our first conversation includes a litany of "do you remembers": the Daily Caffe; the Willoughby's on Chapel Street; The Moon on Whalley; the Third World International Cafe... it's always sort of romantic, actually, these conversations. We woo each other with our memory banks of the Nine Squares and the streets that radiate from it. Tight friendships are born out of these shared memories of places long gone.

Mamoun's is still here. Mysteriously, Clarie's Corner Copia is still here. Ashley's is here. All true.

But I miss Thomas Sweet. I miss the pancake restaurant that used to be on York Street. (Not the crepe place; I mean the pancake place; it was where Bangkok Gardens is.) And don't even get me started on the bookstores.

35 Responses to Enjoying New Haven: A Guide to the Area by Betsy Sledge and Eugenia Fayen

  1. Donald says:

    I'm certainly no oldtime resident, but I'm amazed to think I've been in the New Haven area for 16 years! I remember when the Yorkside Blue State that was Koffee Too? was a Willoughby's. And I remember when Starbuck's was an art store.

    What I miss most is the Rainbow Cafe. But what about Book Trader? I have no idea what used to be there, but how was it possible to have downtown without Book Trader? And now, speaking of Blue State, I'm glad there's a coffee shop on Wall Street, not that I ever wondered why there wasn't.

  2. zoe p. says:

    You know what else is fun? Those funky cartoony city maps from the 1970s-80s, of New Haven, that some businesses still have up. I'm trying to remember where I saw one recently . . . It's eye-level, near the door, has Fitzwilly's on it . . .

  3. Eva Geertz says:

    Donald: Thomas Sweet was in the space where Book Trader is now. Ice cream. I used to go get Thai food and then get some ice cream. It was wonderful. Believe me, there was a downtown before there was Book Trader! Book World was just a few doors down (and before that, across the street), and OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY.

    Zoe, those maps are fun, aren't they! I'd forgotten all about them. Thanks for reminding me...

  4. West of 11, the first restaurant in the space now Scoozi. Named for the location being west of the 11th structural element (not sure what the right word is) of the Btisih Art Center.

    Annie's Firehouse Soup Kitchen on Edwards.

    THE YALE CO-OP.

    Sweet Wishes aka Sweet Bitches on Whitney Ave.

    The M&T

  5. Fantastic post! Things have changed dramatically even just in the past 12 years I've been here.

    At least it isn't suburbia, where nobody notices. The city is a locus of collective memory.

  6. Colson Whitehead's got a good line on this about New York: "You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now."

    Though he overstates a bit, I love that line because it's generous: I think it's true of lots of places, big and small, and It's definitely true of this place. Which is why I like it so much here.

  7. Leslie says:

    I'm remembering places from the 70's, Eva:

    Olivia's, which was next to where the Starbucks is on Chapel - open nearly all night, if I recall correctly. I once sat in the window wearing a see-through blouse (it was the 70's remember) smoking a cigar.

    Loews-Poli Theatre on College where the defunct Palace Theatre sits, next to it a very cool eatery famous for milkshakes (name escapes me), and next to that a shoe store to die for. I bought Capezios in many hues in that forgotten shoe emporium. Smelled of the finest calf leather, mmmmm.

    Gordon's on Chapel just down from Ann Taylor's, fabulous clothes for when you needed to look less like a hippie for your mother. Nice boots, bought some green suede over the knee boots there and wore them to death.

    Papillion in the mall. Much like Scribbles, but just more of it. Park Place on Park Street, everything to outfit your really cool hippie pad. I could go on, but I'll spare you. New Haven, I love you.

  8. Eva Geertz says:

    Katharine: every single place you named has been on my mind since I wrote this post. Every single one. Also, The Paper Caper, I believe it was called -- a more G-rated version of Scribbles that was on Whitney near Audubon, next to a snooty wine bar; Alibi Books; Alluveia Olde Ways (sp?); Bonnie and Clyde; Broadway Pizza (where they served me Heineken Dark long before they ought to've done); Gag's; the drug store on Crown Street between York and Park...
    The video store (Filmfest?) that was on I believe College Street, and then went to Chapel Street (whatever happened to Kenneth who worked there?).
    Rhymes Records. The Ritz. All the vintage clothing shops on State Street. Hatsune...

    Warms my heart the way people have responded to this. Proof that I'm not the only sap in town.

  9. Cal Morgan says:

    Bookstores . . .

    Of course Whitlock's bookstore, upstairs on Broadway. It's not still there, is it? Like having a small corner of the Yale Library all to yourself, with all books available for purchase.

    The Yale Co-Op, which should be the subject of a magnificent essay by a writer whose formative years it shaped--there must be hundreds if not thousands.

    And, Eva, perhaps for personal reasons, you omitted Bookhaven, which I know is gone--what is there now?

    And other things: The York Square Cinema, where I got my introduction to foreign film, Hitchcock, and early-1980s alt culture (what little of it I felt comfortable with).

    And High Street between Elm and Wall.

  10. Cal Morgan says:

    And, if I remember right, Thomas Sweet was famous as the first ice cream store to have blend-ins, aggressively executed with an enormous and disturbing steel screw.

  11. Moishe in Vermont says:

    elegiac yet not unduly sentimental - I like your tone. you should write a guidebook that blends (recent) past and present. The thin membrane of time... M.

  12. Eva Geertz says:

    Cal:
    I was omitting bookstores in general -- god knows I've got things to say about New Haven bookstores -- not singling out Book Haven for neglect... but it's true, Book Haven is no longer. The space is now home to Labyrinth Books (but kept the Book Haven phone number, if anyone cares).
    Thomas Sweet didn't invent the blend-in; I think that honor goes to Steve's, or was it Herrell's, in Cambridge. But Thomas Sweet was the only place in New Haven that did it, and they were cherished for their contribution. There was also a Thomas Sweet shop in Georgetown, as I recall; does anyone know if it's still there? (The kind of thing a Google search takes care of in a nanosecond...)

    High Street between Elm and Wall: one of my favorite "ah, I remember when" spots.

  13. The Henry bookstores -- Bookhaven and Foundry, are much missed.

    Jackson-Marvin Hardware on Whalley Avenue, and the much more recently vanished Bunnell Hardware on Orange.

    The four-hour Chinese dinners at Peter Cheng's on Park Street.

  14. Adam Berger says:

    Nice piece, Eva! My memories are mostly food-related, since I ate out the first 3 months are so I lived in New Haven. I was always fond of the Educated Burgher (loved the name), and Naples, which still has the sign in the window but is called something else, but at least Yorksides is still around. Is that used record store on Broadway (2nd floor) still around? Forget what it's called, but I used to buy a lot of great albums there nobody else wanted to listen to.

  15. Donald says:

    Eva: you had me at OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY. But, re: BT, I still prefer it to ice cream; Ashley's is tempting enough. But my Thomas Sweet recollections take me back to grad school in Princeton. They had two in town. Last I knew they were still there.

    Speaking of Princeton, on a visit back once with my daughter I said: the reason "you can't go home again" is that you don't want to go back to where you came from, it's that you want to go back to it as it was at a certain time, and you can't. As Proust says, "the streets are as fugitive, alas, as the years."

  16. david says:

    don't forget brick and wood!

  17. steve says:

    Hi- I also remember Book World on Chapel st and Ben Bernie on the corner of Crown st across from Malley's. There were also several neighborhood bars on Crown near Orange .BTW where was Gag's bar located ?- I forgot!

  18. David says:

    Great article. Naples was a daily routine when I worked at Yale, and Thomas Sweet was great, too. I didn't know that Clark Dairy closed -- I used to love their tuna melts. Hatsune was the best for sushi, but I assume they are gone. A great place to listen to jazz was the Foundary (Joey Milotti quartet! -- not sure about spelling). The old Horowitz Brothers -- you could get madras shirts for $4. And yes the Old Heidelberg; how indeedcould it be a Thai restaurant? It was a Yale classic since 1751! The Greenery was ok to pop into as was Kavanaughs. And of course Mexican food was not the only thing you could score at Viva Zapata! Ah, the 80s!

  19. David says:

    And WOW! Heineken Dark at Broadwa Pizza. Same here -- long before I should have been served. But so did the Triple Crown! I am working to remember a place I think on York, across from Viva, that had a Cabaret license, which meant they could serve until 2 or 3 AM; Owned by an old Greek guy. And heading out of town a bit you could get a glass of stale beer for about 50 cents at a place called the Old Barge -- it was, well, an old barge.

  20. Susan says:

    Anyone else remember White Mountain Creamery (where Daily Caffe later was and now Ivy Noodle resides)? Loved their ice cream and they weren't around very long.

    • Anna says:

      I once tried to eat a White Mountain: 10 scoops of ice cream, four toppings, nuts, whipped cream, cherries, etc. This was after I'd had three pieces of pizza. I almost did it; one spoon before I was done, it all came back into the bowl.

  21. rob nelson says:

    Coming to this thread almost 2 years after its original posting: always late to the party! I lived in 10 apartments in the Elm City between 1982 and 1990. My work brings me in to New Haven many times a year, but the city we all knew then is mostly gone. Festoon's was the used record shop on the 2nd floor that Adam Berger talked about; I played many times at the Grotto as part of the Wishing Years and the Dumheads. Saw Winston Grennan live at Third World, the reggae bar on Whalley. There was also the old Agora ballroom which I think became the Twilight Zone. There was a sleazy disco on Dixwell called Daniel's that played Grandmaster Flash for the (mostly white) dancers. The beloved York Square cinema, where I saw "Liquid Sky" and learned to love Jim Jarmusch. Let us not forget the Rubber Match, land of tickets, futons and screens for your smoking pleasure (still there on Whalley Ave!) BookWorld on Chapel, after a night at Richter's orr the Anchor (still THERE!) where young would-be members of the intelligentsia could talk til dawn about Renoir or the Dead Kennedys!! A time now passed.......

  22. Michelle says:

    WOW! I am so glad I found this thread.

    I am researching restaurants I worked in 1980-1990 (undergrad and grad school years) and I googled Annie's Firehouse; your thread popped up.

    I returned to New Haven for the first time since 1990 in August, 2011 when I had surgery at Yale New Haven. Recovering from surgery in the hospital's housing for out of state patients, I wandered the streets for a week and I was mesmerized, transported to another time, reminiscing everything that has already been captured here.

    I visited all of my old apartments on Hotchkiss, Lynwood Place, Wooster Square. It was like returning to an elementary school classroom: everything seemed much smaller than I remembered (and my knees banged up against the itty bitty desk ; )

    I worked for Brian Alden (!) and as an employee we helped with the Summer Jazz on the Green concerts -- what a blast! I worked for Annie's Firehouse with Chani and Denise. David Byrne came up from NYC and ate there; we were beside ourselves! I rode my three speed to work at the Long Wharf Theater. I shopped at Conrans and Ann Taylor. I ate at Claire's Cornucopia and learned to love the smell of roasting coffee that clung to my clothes coming in the window of my apartment on Lynwood Place (tres Proustian!) just off Chapel. Claire was there on the day I visited last summer; I told her I hadn't been there since 1990 and she hugged me.

    My first real heartbreak took place to U2's Joshua Tree the summer of 1986 on the streets of New Haven. I still can't go by the Drama School or Yale Rep without feeling the heartstrings pull.

    Thank you, Eva Geertz!

  23. Laurie Williams says:

    What happened to Annie's Firehouse Soup Kitchen? It was so great in the 70's and 80's. Is there a successor? The breads and soup's were amazing, Thx! Laurie

  24. michael norquest says:

    Wow, my memories go back to New Haven in the early Fall of 1962 when I arrived for school at the Culinary Institute of America, then on Prospect Street at that campus where the Victorian mansion that we knew as Angell Hall was the main building on our campus. Now restored to it's former glory as the Davies Mansion, housing the Yale Center for Asian Studies, the downstairs has been returned to what it looked like before WWI, when it was still owned by the family.
    Downtown New Haven in 1962; those small stores and shops, so many catering to the Yale elites, bespoke this and tailored that. A coffee shop on Chapel known as "My Brother's Place" where the town and gown of a certain age hung out.
    The Hotel Taft; that fantastic Tap Room--dark wood, stained glass and a place to buy a drink now and then if you looked like close to the right age and had the right bartender. That spooky dining room at the Taft where the head waiter looked like "Lurch" from the Adamm's Family and the decor of that place looked like your grandmother might have left her gloves there in 1940, before the war.
    On College Street in those days; that Shubert Theater, the College Spa, a few doors down which had a decent soda fountain and lunch service, the Roger Sherman Theater across the street, not far away on College, the legendary Kaysey's with their refrigerated display window and that very traditional old school dinging room and bar..ditto for their waiters. Old School and very old New Haven. Louies Lunch, that funky little brick building that looked like a place out of time; those hamburgers, their way or the highway.
    The Edward Malley & Co. on Chapel Street before they moved into their new elegant building, on Church Street in the Spring of 1963. So elegant, so modern and so doomed because the store didn't have ten years left as a department store...not in a downtown location.
    The Paramount Theater, off Chapel, downtown where the Organ Impressario and muscial wizzard, Virgil Fox, would come up from New York to pump up the mighty Wurlitzer, one more time, before the theater was torn down for that Mall which had no better nor happier history than the Malley Company.
    At Howe and Chapel; a real diner, the Duchess Diner, not far from the Clark's Dairy, both were near the YMCA on Howe.
    Al's Restaurant out on Whalley Avenue where everyone went for their Pastrami Special Sandwiches, everyone including whomever might have been in town at the Shubert, those other theaters and nightclubs in Southeastern Connecticut, including the Rib Room at Les Shaws' Restaurant on Pond Lily Avenue and Whalley where on Saturday nights, WAVZ would do a live broadcast from that nightclub.
    When Whalley Avenue was New Haven's Auto Row, when the Bay Theater would show "Gone with the Wind", when the now closed Roger Sherman had "To Kill a Mockingbird" running for weeks, later where "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" had that World Premier in 1970.
    The Old Heildleburg where I had my first sit down dinner in New Haven--Lobster with a Caesar Salad and of course a cocktail..that for my 18Th Birthday and that cocktail, all very illegal, very underage.
    Wow, memories; I'm glad to have found this site.

  25. Heather says:

    Wow, what a blast from the past! I graduated from Yale in 1988, and I honestly sort of assumed that everything is still exactly as I left it 25 years ago. What a shock. Now I feel REALLY old! :-)

    • michael n. says:

      New Haven; as you get older you realize that it is possible to go home again just not the best choice nor even one that might work out if you returned to those places where you were young and tried to reconnect with the past. Too many ghosts, too many missing pieces--with New Haven too many missing buildings, familiar places. I still can remember taking those Fall walks on Chapel Street, from Howe Street to the New Haven Green--the streets and the Green is still there; the people who were part of our dorm and buddy group are not.

  26. Ronald says:

    Thanks for the post even though I just discovered it and wanted to add my two cents. I have a ton of memories about New Haven but I'll just put a few. I really miss when MACY'S was downtown. I miss the skywalk you had to cross over to get to Chapel Square Mall. I use to spend hours in Record World looking at the latest albums and tapes. Then being intriged by the new music media at the time called cd's and the long box they came in. Mall gone now just apartments, Starbuck's and a Buffalo Wild Wings Restuarant in it's place. I miss the record store that was on Church street across from the mall for years!
    I hung out on Broadway and York street. Glad to see Toad's Place is still standing. Miss Demery's. They had great Pizza. My heart finally broke when Cutler's Records closed. LOVED THAT STORE! I think the record store on the second floor use to be called Ritz Records during the 1980's. How about going to WaWa's on York st. for a late night snack? I use to have a girl friend who worked there. Those where the day's.
    Night clubs: Miss Montego Bay, Brick-n-Wood, Bopper's, Malcom's and Tony's.
    Miss David's Cookies. Love Educated Burger and Clair's. Miss Palce Theater. Miss the New Haven Advocate, before the internet, when it had great arcticles, event listings and personnel ads in the back. Miss York Square Cinema: Best time in theater ever when I went to see Talking Heads, "Stop Making Sense" and it was like being at a concert. Almost everyone was up dancing!! CRAZY and really fun!!!
    Things change but it's always good to have memories:)

  27. Chris Thomas says:

    I got here by searching whether I remembered the motto of Whirligig Comics correctly ("an amusing waste of time"), which led to a little reverie about buying used comics in the bins at Book World, which led me to Google its exact address.

    For 90s kids, or at least this 90s kid, everything centered around the Daily Caffe (I can still remember carefully collecting the exactly $2.00 in change required for student bus fare and a cup of coffee, which would unlock hours of shyly socializing with New Haven's punk rock glitterati). We would follow our poetry slam or idle chitchat at the Daily with a cloves-puffing walk to shows (or sometimes "raves") at Tune Inn behind the Mall, or hanging out on the grates next to Beineke, or shopping for used vinyl at one of the record stores near the Co-op, or perhaps getting a haircut at Hair on Broadway, whose weird yet catchy jingle I can still hear.

    Thanks to everybody for sharing your memories.

  28. I remember sitting at the bar in the Old Heidelberg, admiring the "Maxfield Parish" murals on the walls & columns. One night I happen to notice, in a dark corner of the restaurant area,John Voight, and Dustin Hoffman having dinner together with their families, after their off Broadway show at the "Long Wharf Theater". Circa "1977" (ish).
    Across the street from the Heidelberg was an Italian restaurant "Paulo's". "Long Wharf" stars used to frequent there too. I remember dating a guy who's uncle was one of the chefs, and experiencing my first taste of a fresh, made from scratch cannelloni, which melted in my mouth,35 years ago. Now that's a great meal!

    • After looking through the "Long Wharf" archives, maybe Voight & Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy co-stars) went to see Al Pacino performing in "American Buffalo". Circa "1980". In the mid "90's" Hoffman performed in the movie version of "American Buffalo. (Not a paparazzi in sight!)

      I remember hearing that the Old Heidelberg was owned by the parents of Robin William's former first wife, Valerie Velardi, who is supposedly from Orange, CT. No info. on line.

      "Maxfield Parrish" (spelling)

  29. Robo says:

    The Greenery Cafe!

  30. PS says:

    For some reason I thought about The Greenery restaurant today. Upon googling it, I came across this site. I dined at The Greenery numerous times starting with the day my family dropped me at Yale for my freshman year in 1982. Later I would return with classmates and visiting relatives. My final time visiting that restaurant came one evening when after enjoying a nice dinner with a friend, I paid the bill with a check, having no idea that the restaurant didn't accept checks. There was no sign and nothing in the menu to indicate that. The manager berated me and told me and my friend never to return. It was awful. I'd never had such an experience. Why do I still remember that 30 years later? Anyway, despite my bad, final memory of The Greenery, I enjoyed the walk down memory lane with other New Haven spots I fondly remember like Cutler's, York Square Cinema, Fitzwilly's, and Claire's. And I remember Macy's and the skywalk, too. :)

  31. Mitch Berger says:

    What a blast from the past! I lived in New Haven from 1979-1989. What a wonderful place and time to be there. I lived on Orange Street and was able to walk to all the great nightclubs in the city Like The Oxford Ale House and Toads Place. I could walk to work too.I worked at both location of Festoons Records On Whitney ave. I also worked at The Book Trade, Rhymes Records and I owned an antique store in Westville called Radiodrome. My sister lives near Pepe's Pizza now so maybe I will go back to visit someday.

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