“Remember: Every burrito you sell supports Yale.”
Or so said the president of University Properties, which manages Yale’s commercial portfolio, upon walking into one of the newest of Yale’s tenants: Moe’s Southwest Grill.
At Moe’s, which opened May 1 on Whitney Avenue just as students were leaving for the summer, co-owner Mary McMillan said she is looking forward to her business “blitzing the whole area” — reaping profits both for herself and for her landlord, Yale — once new student promotions take effect.
Moe’s is not the only restaurant to open its doors in the Elm City in recent months. In the past semester alone, Woodland Coffee & Tea, Sushi on Chapel, Thali Too and Kumo Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse joined the New Haven culinary scene. Despite the faltering economy, feedback from these new businesses has been “very positive so far,” Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Communications Coordinator Nicole Salvatore said.
But not all businesses are faring as well — Dozo, a Japanese eatery on Whalley Avenue, shut its doors just 10 months after opening last October — and even some of those that are surviving are resorting to innovative steps to stay afloat.
Chatting among a hungry lunch crowd last Thursday, McMillan spoke about recent deals designed to attract a student clientele to her Tex-Mex joint. In addition to meal coupons distributed in freshman welcome bags, she said plans are set for a “free burrito day” in September, T-shirt giveaways and raffles for a year of free burritos.
McMillan said Moe’s fresh-off-the-press liquor license, pending happy-hour specials, free chips and salsa and varied discounts for students are important steps in acing the often pivotal first impression as students return to New Haven.
Many freshmen interviewed Tuesday said they had not noticed the coupon in their welcome bags and did not know Moe’s had opened in New Haven.
“I would only eat there because I had a coupon,” Courtney Fukuda ’12 said. “Especially because freshmen are forced to be on the full meal plan.”
Across town on Church Street, another new eatery, Buffalo Wild Wings, opened its doors July 28 by awarding the first 100 customers free wings for a year.
“It was 8 a.m., and people were lined up at the door,” kitchen manager Colleen Murphy said.
Marketed as a sports bar and grill — with a fleet of screens broadcasting “every game imaginable” to prove it — Buffalo Wild Wings is also offering numerous specials to appeal to students looking for a balance between eating out and saving money.
Murphy said the average check is about $11. With specials such as 40-cent-wing Tuesdays and all-you-can-eat-wing Mondays for Monday Night Football, she said the restaurant is shooting to attract students on a budget, who might only eat out once or twice a week.
Liv Coates ’12 and Holly Butler ’12 both said they anticipate eating out only on special occasions, no more than twice a week.
“If you’re on a meal plan, there is really no reason to eat out all the time,” Butler said.
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