Renovations halted at Mory’s as fundraising lags

Renovations to Mory’s have been halted until the shuttered club can raise enough money to pay its contractors, the president of the Mory’s Board of Governors, Christopher Getman ’64, said this week.

In an interview, Getman said that the pause in renovations could push the club’s reopening to late fall or perhaps even the spring. While the club has raised close to $700,000 for the project, he said an additional six-figure sum is still needed to allow renovation work to continue.

After a century as a Yale icon, Mory’s closed over winter break, citing financial difficulties.
Charles Francis
After a century as a Yale icon, Mory’s closed over winter break, citing financial difficulties.

The architect planning the renovation of Mory’s had originally suggested that the club might be able to open its doors for the centennial of the Whiffenpoofs in October and be fully operational by the Harvard-Yale football game the next month. But fundraising has been particularly challenging this summer, Getman said, postponing construction and thus throwing a wrench into those plans.

“We’ll be lucky to be open by the Harvard game,” Getman said, adding: “We’re going to do it right, and if that means opening in the spring, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll open when we’re ready to open.”

In the interview, Getman said Mory’s has hired a general manager for its restaurant, Ben Bloom, and named its comptroller, Robin Soltesz, to serve as general manager of the club. With those officials in place, the club will be able to draw up menus and fashion a more thorough business plan that includes food costs — a step that Getman said he hopes will reassure potential donors.

“People have been holding off, not donating, because we don’t have a serious business plan,” he said.

Mory’s has also launched a new Web site and recently placed an advertisement in the Yale Alumni Magazine, Getman said.


  • yale2012

    Hardly surprising, but-


    Yale, get it together.


    Come ON !!! Mory's building is not that big! $700K to renovate, including a new professional kitchen, should be far more than adequate to do a wonderful job! Including new furniture, too!

    Someone is overbidding, and someone else (evaluating the bids) is not aware of the real cost of renovation and does not understand the process. I own two 100-year-old, three-story multifamily houses in the city and overhauled both in the past couple of years, including new roofs, bathrooms, kitchens, windows, etc., for much less, and they look fantastic.

    Sounds like some savvy contractors' reps have put a huge amount of effort into putting together impressive drafted plans and power point presentations to the people shepherding Mory's through this process--administrators who have no idea what renovation costs and the nuts and bolts, literally, of the process.

    I can't be too critical -- I wasted a lot of money until I understood the process and could identify truly talented craftsmen who would do a great job at a reasonable and fair price.

    Too bad I don't have another antique house to renovate! Here I've finally found all the perfect people to design and do the work -- and the work is done!

    Mory's supporters: Please find someone who knows what they're doing to identify the work to be done, choose the right people to do it, and get it done quickly.

  • Hieronymus

    Lisa: have you offered your services? Sounds like they need you.

    Mory's: howzabout a nice deal on life membership?

  • EAH

    Chris Getman is overextended. He has served well, walking Handsome Dan at home football games, among other tasks, but someone else needs to lead this campaign. Or, perhaps, Mory's should die.

  • Snippy oo

    All you concerned alums and do-gooder hangers-on, if u care so much put up or shut up. What ? no mullah ? Then we have no choice but to raze it.

  • Anonymous

    why does the YDN care so much about this particular issue? why didn't it cover the downfall of hammer jacks and the rise of sinergy? students care quite a bit about these fine establishments as well. i know of several tradition-based instrumental groups who had performed at HJs before it went under. the editorial board should try to broaden its perspective.

  • Yalie

    Mory's should definitely stay open. Have they axed the unionized waiters and all that nonsense?

  • The Contrarian

    Renovation is Cheap.

    Historic Preservation is Expensive.


    Dear Hieronymus (B?):

    I'm not in the contracting biz, but I have come to work with really skilled and trustworthy people as a result of my arduous renovation efforts on my very own properties in a Yale-related neighborhood. The points of my commentary: $700K can achieve a lot of great renovation, and I get crazed when I see a lot of money being thrown away! And if someone thinks $700K is not enough money to renovate Mory's … well, that someone doesn't have good budgeting and hiring sense. It's not like Mory's is the Battell Chapel or something.

    If Yale wants to contact me for names of these talented people, I will be pleased to share them. That's why I put my real email address on these messages.

    For the record, I do not have ANY piece of the action from anyone I might recommend to do work. I just am so ecstatic that after much trial and error I found really talented and reliable craftspeople who know how to do the work and aren't out to gouge everyone.

    For the record, I'm also not associated with Yale in any way. To be honest, what happens to Mory's won't affect my life, and there are lots of other places I'd prefer to go to for dinner or drinks. But I pass by there daily and I do value tradition, and I think that places like Mory's add to the positive atmosphere of New Haven.

    I get so outraged when I see people waste money that I had to write when I saw this article! Anyone who has donated to the Mory's fundraising effort should be on their feet, clamoring for reasonable, timely results!

    A side issue, of course, is how much money Yale wastes on other projects.

  • To be clear…

    One shouldn't conflate Yale and Mory's--culturally or financially.

  • HJ

    Wait, HammerJak's went under? When? I have some great memories of going to that place. While not as important to me as Toad's or Hula Hanks, it was still a fun place. Do you have anymore info or places I could find out about it?

  • 2010

    I don't understand why the folks at Mory's feel that they need to completely overhaul their establishment in order to be a viable business once more. A new menu, more relaxed policy and full bar would suffice.

  • The Contrarian

    Very easy to howl about "wasted" money without knowing any details… usually the mouthiest are the least informed. I know the Lizzie spent plenty doing sensitive additions & improvements. And for anyone interested in an institution/museum upgrade that would suit Mory's, I suggest a close look at Locke-Ober.

  • Alice Ann

    Sounds like somebody woke up on the wrong side of contract steering & rainy day renovation funds. Hey , still no plans in the works for the Agricultural expansion / renovation / demolishing ?


    Hi Contrarian:

    Historic preservation does not have to be done at a premium cost!

    Mory's? You're reaching. Mory's and its building are not all that. 700K is more than adequate for a venue of this sort.

    Everything old is not good. Not all antique designs and paint colors are good.

    I invite you, Contrarian, to my properties to see how well I managed both renovation AND historic preservation. Look at the extensive, beautiful woodwork I had re-created in cherry and mahogany--more effective to put in all new rather than try to strip and refinish the 100-year-old woodwork that had been varnished and painted over by decades of renters and landlords. 30 coats of varnish, blistered and blackened, bugs embedded … ugh. That new custom woodwork looks damn good. The new windows and roofs are lovely and environment-friendly. The refinished and re-built (as needed) hardwood floors are gorgeous. The pocket doors work. The exteriors have been lovingly restored, too.

    Too many people get sucked into spending more money by contractors or architects who try to sway them with terms like "historic preservation" vs. "renovation." Nothing about my renovations has been cheap, yet I've restored in a historically respectful manner. I invite you to take a look … :)

  • TD04

    Lisa: Did your projects require a professional kitchen, built to code? A wet bar? Are you aware of the health and safety costs of renovating a catering establishment? They are considerable.

    "A side issue, of course, is how much money Yale wastes on other projects."

    No, that isn't a side issue, since Yale has no role in, or obligation to, Mory's.


    Hi TD04:

    I have had no need for professional kitchens in the multifamily houses I have renovated.

    However, I have looked into investing in restaurants in New Haven, have read the financials, and am quite aware of the costs of building professional kitchens and facilities to code and meeting all health and safety requirements, with all proper permits etc.

    Meeting these codes/requirements for a venue the size of Mory's should not break the bank.

    I stand by my initial premise: $700K is more than enough to renovate Mory's to historical-preservation standards and to food-service code!!! Including the services of designers and architects who would oversee for historical-preservation purposes.

    Sheesh. Why are some of you so intent on raising more than $700K for Mory's?