After a popular bar and restaurant in downtown New Haven abruptly closed its doors, locals launched a petition to breathe life back into the iconic eatery.
Calls placed to The Anchor went unanswered Monday amid reports that landlord Yale University Properties shut down the venue due to financial problems.
Within hours of the New Haven staple serving its last drink Sunday night, the lock had been changed and white paper plastered the windows of the College Street eatery.
Yale University Properties said the beginning of the end came when the restaurant changed hands at the end of 2012.
"Although University Properties made every effort to allow the operation to continue, the new owner continuously failed to meet its obligations under the lease," deputy university press secretary Karen N. Peart said in a statement Monday, adding that DWN Enterprises' "rent payments became sporadic" shortly after the company took over.
Peart said the restaurant owner failed to honor a 2014 court judgment that would have allowed it to continue renting the space, at which point University Properties notified the company that it needed to move out.
"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," Peart said.
But according to New Haven residents, it wasn't ample time for the public. Locals describe The Anchor as a mainstay in the city and said the closure has dealt a blow to downtown New Haven.
"It's really a time capsule, and there are very, very few places like it left in New Haven," explained Robert Greenberg, who has frequented the restaurant for 30 years. "It's an institution and needs to be saved."
Now a change.org petition is circulating, urging Yale to reconsider.
"The Anchor Bar and Restaurant has been one of the few remaining and well-loved local establishments in New Haven, and a place that most of us thought was safe from the slow homogenization/gentrification that Yale University has been imposing on our hometown," the petition reads.
"Yale seems to think that trading local businesses for another Starbucks or frozen yogurt chain will make Yale students more comfortable, and feel safe in our apparently frightening, terrible city- but in fact, the result has been a decline in town/gown goodwill, Yale alums no longer recognizing the place they lived in and loved, and a once culturally thriving, unique city now resembling little more than a strip mall," it continues.
The petition links out to a GoFundMe page endeavoring to raise $7,200 to help the now-unemployed staff of The Anchor. According to the fundraising site, the restaurant served its last drink Sunday evening.
The Yale Alumni Magazine reports that The Anchor, which has been listed as one of the 25 best bars in the country, "has been a fixture in New Haven since the 1940s" and once served Thornton Wilder.
"I think it needs to transition into new management, new owners, and I think it needs to carry on," Greenberg explained. "And I think the people who own the structure itself should look at it as a more valuable, historical place to go to."
For now, The Anchor's future remains uncertain.