At Mory’s, alcohol policies tightened

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.

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.”


  • Cupless in New Haven

    Nice article, but that must have been frustrating to write. Can't we have a follow up with what students really think of that place?

    The official statements are the most disingenuous fluff ever. They reek like stale booze. I'm also impressed you found a student to say Mory's is more than the … Really? Really? Really!

    I go to Mory's for the excellent culinary variety, clean bubbly atmosphere, quick service, the friendly and professional staff, the creaky doors that won't stay closed, and the constant reminder that in the good ol' days, Yale was a bunch of WASPy males. Keep it up Mory's, and you'll be Doodling sometime soon.

  • Alum '05

    What is this nonsense

  • y07

    Mory has such lousy food that these cups were the only reason to go there, ever.
    What is going to happen now? Very simple. Mory's will be serving non-alcoholic cups to the clubs, and the kids will just bring handles of vodka with them and spike the cups.
    I can't believe how stupid the American drinking laws are. All that police effort wasted for nothing in a place like New Haven.

  • DoodleLover

    Poster #1 is right. This is the death knell for Mory's. Many students never set foot in that place during their entire Yale career because it has absolutely no appeal. If they want to attract students, perhaps they should think about their overpriced menu, a rude staff which treats students like dirt while pandering to the "old school" alumni, and the declining quality of the cups. But alas! It's too late. Will the members of YPU, various sports teams, fraternities and a cappella groups continue to go to Mory's, only to be served $30 cups of Hawaian punch? Will tradition save Mory's? The organization so fervently believes in tradition! Well it used to be tradition for Yale students to go to Mory's, get sloshed, and have a good time (I am not referring to Prescott Bush's era. I graduated in 2001 and was a regular patron). Perhaps the Whiffenpoofs should get in touch with one of many fine restaurants in New Haven (Union League comes to mind), in preparation for Mory's inevitable demise.

  • Anonymous

    Well, guess I'll never be going to Mory's now.

  • Yale Grad

    "Mid Winter Luau Party" !?!? You've got to be joking. The police tend to leave private clubs alone as long as they stay quiet private clubs. Way to ask for attention.

    Mory's has changed a lot over the past decade, primarily with a change in management and staff. The attitude towards students has become rather negative, the nostalgia has gotten stale, and (worst of all), the cups are both a lot weaker and a lot less full (I'd say half empty, actually).

    People go to Mory's because it is Mory's, not because it's better than Bar and certainly not for nonalcoholic Razz-A-Ma-Tazz (you've got to be joking). Trouble is, it's not really Mory's anymore. A new solution needs to be found - this one is downright awful.

  • another Yale Grad

    I agree with Poster #6. There have been too many changes within the last few years. Management needs to be replaced, starting at the top because the success of Mory's can be only as good as it's leader. I know I won't be going there anymore.

  • Sneiderman

    I can get punch from the cafeteria and if I choose to eat bland tasteless cafeteria food, I'll eat at the cafeteria as well.