NEW HAVEN - A new coffee shop opened this week in New Haven, but unless you're a college student, professor or a college staffer, you are not welcome.
Shiru Cafe, on College Street, sells coffee and pastries, but the company said, in a statement, their purpose is "to provide career information to university students and connect them with potential employers." In other words, they're acting as somewhat of a job recruiter.
"a bunch of my classmates have been talking about it and I guess it’s pretty popular to study it sounds like you just have to give some information and you get some free stuff," said Marissa Elliott, a grad student in the Yale School of Public Health.
The company statement said, "Students register via an app with basic information like name, school or university, class year and academic major. Serving food and drinks to members is incidental to the career information service that Shiru Café provides to university students."
"I do think that could be kind of exclusionary," said another Yale grad student, Anthony Russell. "College students aren’t the only people, who are looking for jobs. So, you probably want to include all working professionals and young adults." 11:10:39
But the company says, "We’re really all about connecting students with internship and job opportunities. We believe as corporations face increasing competition for great talent. This new approach is serving the needs of many different aspects of the education and business communities."
And, Shiru Cafe says that their business model is perfectly legal.
"It's not something I would put my money behind," said New Haven attorney Michael Dolan.
But, he says it does not appear the business is discriminating against any one of Connecticut's protected classes.
"As long as they are a private entity," he said. "I assume they are not taking any federal or state funds to operate their business."
"It would seem to me that they should take some steps to notify people at the threshold (the door) that they are a private entity and not open to the public," said attorney Norm Pattis. 12:04:24
And Pattis believes it would serve Shiru Café well to put some notification on the door to avoid potential litigation.
A spokesperson for the city says they don’t concern themselves with business models, only conforming uses of properties.