Pioneering vegetarian restaurant Claire's Corner Copia, a fixture in New Haven for local and organic food, celebrates its 40th anniversary this week.
During an all-day party Thursday, guests will choose from a goody bag of potential prizes, including a $400 gift card that serves as a "30-day challenge to eat vegetarian." Other gifts include dinner and a show at the Shubert Theater and the College Street Music Hall. The restaurant will also serve a traditional "egg cream" beverage with organic milk, cranberry-hibiscus syrup and sparkling water - the red color nodding to Claire's "ruby" anniversary.
Claire Criscuolo and her late husband, Frank, opened the restaurant in September 1975. Over four decades, it's evolved into a destination for healthful vegetarian and vegan fare, including breakfast sandwiches, salads, Mexican dishes, flatbread pizzas and housemade burgers formed with organic grains, vegetables and walnuts. Claire's dessert case is also legendary, with a daily array of cupcakes, cookies and its famous Lithuanian coffee cake.
"I started out, I wanted to make food from everyone's grandmother's kitchen," Criscuolo told The Courant in a 2010 profile marking the restaurant's 35th anniversary. "I don't think I ever intended to go out and start this health-food revolution. I didn't think of it as health food. This is just the way we ate."
Claire's Corner Copia is at 1000 Chapel Street in New Haven. 203-562-3888, clairescornercopia.com.