Claire’s Corner Copia has served up vegetarian dishes for over 40 years

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NEW HAVEN -- For more than 40 years, Claire's Corner Copia has made a difference with its incredible menu and the people who work there. It is one of the oldest restaurants in downtown New Haven that serves up vegetarian loaded dishes made with locally fresh organic ingredients.

"Food has to taste good and of course we want food to be healthy," said owner Claire Criscuolo. "It should be delicious and it should be beautiful and it could only be that way if it is fresh."

Criscuolo's vision is homemade, high quality food to go along with a down home atmosphere which she says it's just plain good for soul.

"When I am working, I'll stop in the kitchen and just look out and watch the hum of the place especially when it's wild busy and when it's crazy," she said. "When you look around, you just feel the energy."

Criscuolo added that while the food is what brings customers in, it's her people who keeps them coming back.

"The busier it gets, the slower I want our staff to get because that's where a small, caring business is way ahead of the game," said Claire.

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the frosting, which is on what is perhaps the signature item, the Lithuanian coffee cake.

"People use it as their birthday cake or their special occasion cake," said Claire. "I've been told by groups at Yale that if they announce at a particular meeting that there's going to be Lithuanian coffee cake from Claire's, they will get a better turnout, ha ha. When you come to Claire's, you could only be in one place and that's right here in New Haven where we belong."

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