Long lines greeted students at Fleet Bank on Monday, as many waited to cash in the $130 meal rebate check Yale now offers as strike continues to interrupt the regular dining schedule.
With this additional money that students are now receiving, as well as the limited dining schedule that Commons offers, many students have turned to dining outside the University. This has resulted in a sharp increase in business at local eateries.
“I only eat breakfast in Commons now. Every other meal I eat off campus,” Mehmet Tezgul ’07 said.
Mexicali Grill manager Jeremy Bond said his restaurant’s business has almost doubled.
“I would say definitely a 40 to 50 percent increase,” Bond said.
Many restaurant owners whose businesses lie within walking distance of the University have reported similar statistics.
The Whole Enchilada owner Dominick Splendorio reported at least a 25 percent increase in the number of students he served and says that his dinner hours have become much busier.
“I have seen a lot of new faces,” Splendorio said.
The proximity of the restaurant to Silliman and Timothy Dwight has made many students turn to eating there as opposed to dining in campus facilities. Koffee Too?, located on York Street, also reported a significant boost in business, so much so that it has become necessary to order more supplies.
“It has definitely been a lot busier around here,” said worker Mitch Doyle, as he rushed to fill the coffee orders for a long line of students.
Even the Yankee Doodle, a restaurant that has been around long enough to see its share of changes in New Haven life, has noticed a difference.
“The meal rebate brings more students out on the street,” owner Rick Beckwith said.
However, he said that although he has had to order more supplies, he has not experienced overcrowding.
“It has offset the fact that the Yale employees are not working and coming here to eat,” Beckwith said.
Yorkside Pizza co-owner George Koutroumanis reported similar sentiments.
“It has been a little busier but we have lost a lot of regular customers because they’re on strike. We have been slower during lunchtime because of this, but we have picked up some during evening hours,” he said.
Students who eat fewer than three meals a day have especially benefited from the meal rebate as many now find themselves with extra spending money.
“I don’t eat as much as I’m supposed to so it is a good deal to get the meal rebate,” Johnny Beski ’07 said. “It has definitely been working out.”
As restaurants and cafes have recorded more customers, Commons has had increasingly low attendance this school year.
“There has been a sharp decrease in students, especially as many freshmen opted off of the meal plan,” said David Davidson, director of University Dining Services.
In an effort to encourage more use of the college’s dining facilities, freshmen are now allowed to get back on the meal plan. Davidson sent out an e-mail to all students informing them that as of Sept. 17 at noon, freshmen can reactivate plans, an option that was not originally available.
The coordinator of the meal rebates, Jerry Schlauch, declined to comment.
As for the upperclassmen who have enjoyed past years of the Yale dining experience, many are not necessarily as optimistic.
“I would love to be eating at the University. I support the strike but I am getting a little tired of the Ivy Noodle and Mexicali Grille,” Lars Casteen ’04 said.