City waits for parents

While some students may be terrified at the prospect of seeing their parents within a ten-foot radius of their dorm room, New Haven restaurants and hotels said they are looking forward to a bustling, but manageable, weekend.

Many local businesses said the coming weekend, which is expected to draw hundreds of Eli mothers and fathers, will be among the busiest of the year. Restaurants and hotels have been swamped with reservations from parents coming to see their kids — the Omni Hotel has already begun receiving reservations for Parents’ Weekend 2007 and 2008 — but many managers said the volume of customers they anticipate this weekend is nothing they haven’t seen before, and will not strain their resources.

General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Terry Rawstern said his hotel was fully booked for Parents’ Weekend three months ago. While this weekend will be among the busiest of the year for the hotel, he said there are a number of other events throughout the year — such as the Pilot Pen Tennis Competition — that attract equally large numbers of people, which makes staffing options for Parents’ Weekend more manageable.

“There are a number of other events that will push the city to near capacity from the hotel standpoint,” he said. “As our hotel tends to be quite busy year-round anyway, we can use our existing staff.”

Zinc general manager David Boyajian said while many hotels and restaurants will experience a significant increase in service, most will not need any extra staff to meet the rise in demand.

“They have been through all this before,” he said.

Boyajian said he expects Zinc – which will offer a number of specials to supplement its menu – to serve 33 percent more dinners than on a regular weekend.

But for some restaurateurs, Parents’ Weekend does not mean just increased revenues.

Jean Michel Gammariello, sommelier of Union League Café, said Parents’ Weekend is the only time when he gets to see students and parents he has known for years, many of whom ventured into his restaurant for their first Union League meal during their first Parents’ Weekend, and for their last during Commencement. To accommodate these customers, Gammariello said the menu for this weekend is deliberately diverse — everything from lobster to vegetarian and vegan dishes — to appeal to all tastes.

“We try to select the most convivial meal for everyone to make it a feast for the parents and students,” he said. “It is a very warm feeling to see families enjoying the weekend together.”

For many retailers, Parents’ Weekend is a unique event on the calendar, Wave Gallery Owner Phylis Satin said. While other occasions like Commencement draw as many potential customers, Parents’ Weekend is particularly busy because parents and students have more time to walk around the city.

“This is a really good time as it is not as programmed as other weekends, so there is more time for people to shop,” Satin said. “[During] Commencement there are a lot of activities that parents need to go to.”

Many local businesses have been trying to schedule their inventories to meet this weekend’s demand, Satin said. She said she asks the artists who supply her store to complete the bulk of their work early to be ready for Parents’ Weekend, which in the past has brought double the business of a normal day.

Director of Marketing for University Properties Shana Schneider ’00 said no promotions will be organized this weekend as many on-campus events have already been scheduled.

“There are quite a few other events that go on during the day, even in the evening, so there is really no time to create something in particular,” she said. “As parents and students are already going out and walking around and looking for places, there is no real need [for an event].”

Comments