(Photo Courtesy of Christina Maria Del Santo)
Employees got the word around 4 p.m. yesterday.
Within hours, it was all over social media-particularly Facebook-along with a petition demanding that Yale University reverse its decision to close The Anchor Restaurant and Bar, a local hot spot.
There are currently 922 signatures on the petition directed at Yale University Properties, which will not be renewing the lease for the popular establishment. It raises concerns regarding what nostalgic regulars call a continued practice of gentrification by the institution.
But the decision is one that both Yale and DWN Enterprises-which acquired ownership of the Anchor in 2012-tried to avoid, according to University Properties spokesperson Karen Peart. She says that DWN’s rent payments “became sporadic” in 2013. The parties took the matter to court in the middle of last year, and DWN was allowed to remain at the property.
“However, after a few months, DWN regrettably was not able to honor its commitment under the judgment,” Peart wrote in an email. “In autumn 2014, based upon the court’s judgment, DWN was given notice that it would need to vacate the space.”
In what direction this move takes the property is yet to be seen, but the most immediate impact is being felt by The Anchor’s 6 bartenders who, as of yesterday, are out of work.
“A lot of people are worried about where they’re going to have their next drink,” says Christina Marie Del Santo, who has always stopped by The Anchor after a night working her own restaurant gigs. “I have to worry about if my friends are going to have apartments.”
Even for service industry employees the area, The Anchor has always been the go-to, Del Santo says.
“It’s not just a townie bar or a Yale bar,” she says. “It’s where all the restaurant people go after work. When we’re done, we untuck our shirts and go to The Anchor.”
So a good portion of its customer base can relate to what its employees now face, Del Santo says.
“We couldn’t imagine if this happened to us,” she says. “Some of us have been in this situation.”
So they’re pulling together to provide a few friends with a cushion to, hopefully, get them through the worst hiring period-the window between New Year’s and Spring-for service industry workers of the year. The link for the fundraiser went up earlier today and is looking to collect enough money to provide each laid off employee with $1200.
“This is an absolute dead season,” Del Santo says. “It’s very hard to find a job.”
It has a lot to do with people cutting down on spending after the holidays, and the cold weather, she says.
“It’s a cross between people hibernating and their credit card bills coming in,” Del Santo says.
As of Tuesday night, they had raised just under $800.
“Basically one-tenth of our goal in 24 hours,” Del Santo says. “So, we’re psyched.”
In a phone interview on Wednesday, petition author Jesse Richards-another Anchor regular-said that he and other patrons still hope that Yale and DWN can still “work something out”, but that looks unlikely at best.
Plans are to eventually present the petition to Yale Properties, and hopefully use the issue as a rallying cry to address concerns regarding the exit of other popular restaurants and bars in the city.
“There have been a lot of other places that were important to people in this town and almost all of them are gone,” Richards said.