Yale community investment program supports Black-owned businesses

Yale University Properties helps Black-owned brick-and-mortar businesses thrive through its commercial investments in the New Haven community.
Neville Wisdom in his store

Working with Yale University Properties, Neville Wisdom, owner of Neville Wisdom Fashion Design Studio, was able to combine his retail storefront and manufacturing operations at one downtown location at 27 Broadway. (Photos: Yale University Properties)

In mid-June, Yale University Properties, the City of New Haven, and the downtown community celebrated the opening of Philly’s A Taste of Philadelphia, an independently owned, Black-owned restaurant located at 1008 Chapel Street. The restaurant, owned and operated by Shem Adams, serves authentic Philadelphia-style cheesesteak sandwiches.

For Adams, who opened his first Philly’s location in Norwich, Connecticut, more than a decade ago, the new location on Chapel Street had been years in the making. “I’ve had my eye on New Haven for quite some time now,” says Adams. “New Haven is the soul of Connecticut, so we knew our next restaurant had to be here.”

His instincts were right. And with the support of Yale University Properties, he says, the restaurant was able to hit the ground running and has achieved better than expected success.

The love we have received from Yale University Properties, town officials, press outlets, and the community has been second to none,” Adams said.

Yale and New Haven officials celebrating the opening of
In mid-June, Yale University Properties, the City of New Haven, and the downtown community celebrated the opening of Philly’s A Taste of Philadelphia at 1008 Chapel Street. The restaurant, owned and operated by Shem Adams (sixth from left), serves authentic Philadelphia-style cheesesteak sandwiches.

Black-owned businesses are an essential part of the New Haven community. Yale University Properties, which manages Yale’s commercial properties — including retail stores, office spaces, and residential units in New Haven — has played an integral role helping these brick-and-mortar businesses thrive through its community investment portfolio.

Yale helps support local tenants in a variety of ways, such as hosting merchant association meetings, organizing events to draw visitors, overseeing advertising and promotion efforts, investing in improvements and place-making, and, as the community endured the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, providing much-needed rent relief.

Earlier this year, Yale University Properties also celebrated the opening of More Amour Boutique, an independently owned, woman-owned, and Black-owned boutique at 1130 Chapel Street, offering edgy, fashion-forward women’s clothing and accessories that cater to a variety of styles and budgets.

I have always dreamed of opening my own boutique in downtown New Haven because of its walkability and stylish clientele,” says owner and operator Kim Poole. “Yale University Properties helped me locate and secure the exact retail space I wanted, and it is proving to be the best business decision I have ever made. I love being located on Chapel Street — it reminds me of my home in Baltimore.”

Yale University Properties is proud to support Black-owned businesses, said Lauren Zucker, associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University Properties at Yale. “Yale University’s community investment program supports independently owned businesses, bringing jobs to New Haven residents and expanding the city’s tax base,” Zucker said. “We are proud to continue to support a growing number of New Haven Black-owned businesses and look forward to their ongoing success in New Haven.”

The partnership between Yale and local business owners has helped promote many inspiring success stories. Some recent examples include:

  • B Natural Kitchen, now located at 260 College Street, has been a tenant of Yale University Properties since 2007. Owned and operated by Nebyat Shewaye, it has blossomed into a thriving, farm-fresh, build-your-own-bowl concept.
  • Ricky D's Rib Shack, which is owned and operated by Ricky Evans, began as a food truck operation in 2013. The business was so successful that Evans decided to expand in order to accommodate a growing customer base. In 2016, Yale University Properties paired Evans with the perfect space, a turnkey restaurant at 302 Winchester Avenue in Science Park, where it has become one of New Haven's most popular barbeque restaurants.
  • Also in 2016, Black restaurateur and Yale alumnus Karl Franz, who owns restaurants in Harlem, re-opened the Anchor Spa, located at 272 College Street, and reimagined the landmark restaurant’s menu into one with pan-Caribbean style food and upscale cocktails.
  • In early 2018, New Haven resident and Black business owner Neville Wisdom opened his second retail clothing store, Neville Wisdom Fashion Design Studio, at 1090 Chapel Street. Working with Yale University Properties, his dream of combining a retail storefront with manufacturing on one floor in a downtown location became a reality when he relocated to 27 Broadway, another Yale-owned property next to J.Crew and Lou Lou Boutiques, in 2020. The space was just the right size to fit Neville’s 27 sewing machines, computerized pneumatic fabric cutting table, and specialty machines while allowing room for retail space in the front section of the store.
  • Salon E’Selim, an independently owned, woman-owned, and Black-owned salon, which opened at 45 Whalley Avenue in 2018, offers a wide variety of services for men and women, including haircuts, extensions, coloring, bridal services, up-do’s, natural hair care, and more. The salon is owned by Ebony Selima Peterson-Dease.

In addition, Yale University Properties recently signed leases with two new Black-owned, woman-owned small businesses, MINIPNG and Soap-edi. MINIPNG, a creative fashion boutique, will be opening in September under the ownership of Eiress Hammond, a New Haven resident, at 77 Audubon Street. And Soap-edi owner Francia Fortune, who produces and sells all-natural beauty products, is planning for a fall 2022 opening at 1022 Chapel Street.

This month, in recognition of National Black Business Month, Yale University Properties has reiterated its support of these businesses by partnering with local radio station WYBC to promote 18 Black-owned brick-and-mortar retail, restaurant, and service-oriented businesses throughout New Haven. The two partners have run similar promotions for these businesses in the spring and during the holiday season.

We are so grateful to all of our tenants who add to the vitality and vibrancy of downtown New Haven,” Zucker said. “As we strive to support a diversified tenant base, we encourage prospective tenants to reach out to us for additional information.”

Enabled by Yale's community investment program, Yale University Properties is committed to enhancing the quality of life in New Haven through the development of high-quality retail and office environments and the revitalization of surrounding neighborhoods. As a result of University Properties’ community investment program, Yale University is one of the largest taxpayers in the city of New Haven. Learn more at ONHSA.Yale.edu.

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Media Contact

Bess Connolly : elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu,