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3 new restaurants open their doors in downtown New Haven at a time when many are closing theirs

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — At this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many businesses are closing, three new restaurants are now open in New Haven. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning for Crafted By Hand Cafe, Edible Couture, and Vegan Ahava.

RELATED: New Haven’s Restaurant Week kicks off months early, potential business boost amid pandemic

“I started off so small by doing lunches out of my house and selling food out of my house to try and build my clientele,” said Poreyah Benton, owner of Vegan Ahava. “To see a food truck and storefront here today, it’s unbelievable.”

Benton teamed-up with Tisha Hudson, who’s the owner of Edible Couture, to open up their store on Court Street. 

“That love for our trucks kind of brought us together,” said Tisha Hudson, owner of Edible Couture.  

It’s hard to believe, but not too long ago Hudson and Benton were complete strangers. Benton posted on social media she was looking for a business partner.

“They were concerned,” said Benton. “You don’t even know her, how are you doing to go into business with someone you don’t even know? Partnerships rarely work out. I just had a gut feeling about it and I just went with it.”

Both Benton and Hudson told News 8 they’re happy they took a leap of faith. When you stop by their store, you can buy everything from Hudson’s cupcakes to Benton’s sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, and cornbread.

Just around the corner on Orange Street is Chris Bateman’s new restaurant, Crafted By Hand Cafe.  He’s the chef and owner.

“The space was right, the city was right, everything I was looking for in an area,” said Bateman.  “Takeout is the way everything is going. I thought this was a good time to try a great idea like this.”

At Crafted By Hand Cafe, you can get sandwiches, salads, tacos, quesadillas, and more. Bateman said they’ve partnered with food delivery services to reach as many people as possible.

“It’s really exciting to be part of a community that’s still willing to get out and do things,” said Bateman. 

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker were among those who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at both locations. Mayor Elicker told News 8 it’s great to see and welcome new businesses to the Elm City.

“During a pandemic, it’s incredible businesses are opening,” said Mayor Elicker. “It means they’re taking a real risk, but at the same time, people believe in the economy of New Haven.”

Mayor Elicker said now, more than ever, people need to support local businesses and restaurants as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. One way to do that is by taking part in New Haven Restaurant Week 2020, which wraps-up this weekend.

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