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Adieu to the Anchor (UPDATED)

Thornton Wilder drank there, and so, quite possibly, did you. Esquire magazine thought it one of the 25 best bars in America. The Anchor Bar has been a fixture in New Haven since the 1940s, watching the decline and revival of the College Street area as its own moderne decor moved from hip to dated to hip again. But the Anchor abruptly closed last night, leaving fans disheartened—and wondering who to blame.

Word got out Sunday afternoon on social media that the bar would close that evening, and patrons rushed over for a final drink. By 9 pm, the doors were locked, and mourners had to find another watering hole.

At this hour, there are still conflicting stories about whether the Anchor’s owners packed it in themselves or were forced out. Like most of the businesses around it, the Anchor had Yale’s University Properties arm as a landlord, and one of the bar’s managers told the New Haven Independent that the university had declined to renew the Anchor’s lease (and that the bar had been behind in its rent). But Yale spokesman Jim Shelton said in a statement that the bar’s owners “have decided not to continue the business.”

What are your memories of the Anchor?

UPDATE, 4:20 pm: Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart followed up with a statement that Yale did in fact require the Anchor to vacate the space, after its operator failed to meet its rent and failed to abide by a court judgment. (See the full statement below.) On a conference call including officials from University Properties and the bar’s owner Charlie Moore, John Pollard of University Properties said that “Yale made repeated efforts to allow the Anchor Restaurant to continue.” Moore said that he “never had a complaint” about Yale as a landlord. “We hate to see it end, but our family has decided to take a different course. I have nothing but fond memories.”

Lauren Zucker of University Properties said it was too soon to say what might take the Anchor’s place. Asked if they would look for someone who could carry on in the Anchor’s spirit, she said “You could never recreate the Anchor.”

Statement from Yale’s Karen Peart:

In order to maintain the Anchor in New Haven, Yale University Properties entered into a lease agreement with DWN Enterprises, the new operators of the Anchor, in late 2012. Although University Properties made every effort to allow the operation to continue, DWN Enterprises continuously failed to meet its obligations under the lease. University Properties made many accommodations for DWN Enterprises since their rent payments became sporadic starting in early 2013.

After months of non-payment of rent, University Properties and DWN Enterprises agreed to enter into a court judgment in mid-2014 that would allow DWN Enterprises to remain in the space.  However, after a few months, DWN regrettably was not able to honor its commitment under the judgment.  In autumn 2014, based upon the court’s judgment, DWN was given notice that it would need to vacate the space.  As requested by DWN, University Properties agreed that closure would be in early January 2015, after the holiday season, in order to allow them ample time to inform employees.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Anchor Bar


  • Mykl Sivak
    Mykl Sivak, 11:32am January 05 2015 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Well, the Yale folks can always use another place to get froyo for the fam on parent's weekend and that's primo real estate.

  • Andy Letendre
    Andy Letendre, 3:41pm January 05 2015 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    had a birthday lunch there when comedian Alan King stopped by my table to wish me a happy birthday.

  • Unlearner
    Unlearner, 7:51pm January 05 2015 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Silly me, I though that the people who drank there in the mid 80s had actually read the books they talked about. Great motivator, though.

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