Plastic wristbands may be added to the unofficial uniform of J. Press jackets — for those under 21.
Mory’s on Tuesday announced three new additions to its line-up of famous cup concoctions, but with one major change: the new creations are non-alcoholic. The Razz-A-Ma-Tazz, Strawberry Blast and Island Breeze reflect a change in restaurant policy instituted two weeks ago following inquiries by the Yale Police Department about Mory’s and other eating institutions’ monitoring of underage drinking.
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Under the new rules, which are aimed at more strictly enforcing underage-drinking laws, “mixed groups” — those featuring people younger and older than 21 — can no longer congregate in private rooms where alcohol is being served, and staff will issue wristbands to designate those who are of legal age, whether in a private room or the main room, upon their arrival.
On Jan. 22, Mory’s began advertising its upcoming “Mid-Winter Luau Cup Party” via e-mail to all members, regardless of age. The e-mails clearly indicated that alcohol would be served at the event, prompting YPD officers to contact Mory’s and encourage the eatery to re-evaluate its enforcement policies, Mory’s General Manager Jim Shumway said.
Such a move is appropriate, he said, given the YPD’s responsibility to protect students.
“I didn’t feel like we were being unfairly singled out,” he said. “And then subsequently, I learned from them that they are talking to everybody who is serving alcoholic beverages.”
Shumway said the restaurant used the YPD’s contact as an “opportunity” to re-evaluate their policies.
Given the two infractions for violations of underage-drinking laws Mory’s has accumulated in its 147-year history, the restaurant is eager to collaborate with the University to avoid illegally serving alcohol to those under 21, Highsmith said.
“The Yale Police have worked with local establishments for years,” she said. “If there are ads or posters up from local establishments for events that involve the sale of alcohol, and they’re focused on undergraduates, we remind these establishments that the undergraduates are mostly under 21.”
Shumway said the motivation to make changes came not only from the urging of the YPD but also from his observations about the changing environment of the University and a general shift in people’s attitude toward underage drinking.
“The atmosphere is becoming a lot more attuned to that particular issue of service to minors, as well as drinking too much for people even who are of age,” Shumway said. “It’s not that we feel we were permissive … we don’t feel that way. This just gave us an opportunity to re-examine our procedures and tighten up — it may have happened in the past, that something could have fallen through the cracks inadvertently.”
The renewed attention has some Elis fretting about the potential impact on a favorite Yale tradition.
Matt Dennet ’08 said he visits Mory’s three to four times a semester with the various student groups he is involved with on campus. Memories of toasting at Mory’s contribute significantly to his appreciation of Yale tradition, he said.
“Toasting has been a rich experience for the clubs that go there and do it, and it sounds like it’s going to be much more difficult to get a whole group in there and have the same experience as we’ve had in the past,” Dennett said.
Lisle Leete ’81 frequented Mory’s with his a cappella group throughout his four years at Yale, but with the drinking age set at 18, the cultural attitude towards alcohol was completely different, he said.
Shumway emphasized that the viability of Mory’s as an institution depends exclusively on the Yale community: Only current students, alumni, fellows and faculty can opt for membership, and the unique Mory’s experience that keeps members coming back is separate from the legal issues regarding alcohol, he said.
“It’s very easy to have a really good time at Mory’s without drinking a bit of alcohol. A lot of our party nights are indicative of that,” he said. “We work pretty hard so that you can have a good time at Mory’s without having to break the law, and we will always do that … after all, we want to be here another few hundred years.”
Chaim Bloom ’04, a former regular at Mory’s through his involvement with the Yale a cappella scene, said he agrees with Shumway that the appeal of the Mory’s tradition is not linked entirely to alcohol.
“I think cups certainly are a big part of the tradition there, but they’re not the entire tradition,” Bloom said. “Hopefully, this kind of attention to Mory’s will spur it to be a little more creative in how it reaches out to people. There are … so many wonderful experiences you can have, and students just don’t know about them.”