Mory’s halts renovation

Just as Mory’s seemed to be moving forward, progress to reopen the famed Yale institution abruptly ground to a halt this summer.

Despite taking some steps toward reopening, renovations are currently on hold until the organization can raise enough money to pay the contractors to continue work. While Mory’s has raised over $600,000, Mory’s Board of Governors President Christopher Getman ’64 said the club needs another six-figure donation to proceed with the renovations.

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“The contributions keep coming in but not like the way we need them to to get back to work,” Getman said.

In June, the architect for the project, Richard Wies, projected that the club would partially open in October in time for the Whiffenpoofs’ centennial reunion and would open fully by the Harvard-Yale game in late November. Now, with nothing going on inside the gutted building, it is unclear when the club will be able to open, though Getman said the new target is early 2010.

While additions including a bar and an outside dining area will still be constructed no matter when the club reopens, Getman said, plans for a banquet room will be put on hold until more funds are raised.

“It’s just something we don’t feel we need to have to truly open,” he said.

The organization is in the process of developing a more complete business plan, based on new membership and pricing assumptions, in an effort to entice more donors, Getman said.

Also this summer, Mory’s decided to hire La Cuisine, a local café, market and catering company, to oversee the management of Mory’s, La Cuisine owner Ben Bloom said, and will hire a general manager for the restaurant.

“We’ll provide an interface between the Board [of Governors] and the management staff in the building,” Bloom said.

La Cuisine, which has been operating in the New Haven area for about 20 years, currently provides food to establishments such as Blue State Coffee, Bloom said.

While the Board of Governors is concerned with renovating the building, La Cuisine is looking to renovate the food. La Cuisine is in the early stages of developing a new menu, which will be a joint effort between the company and the Board of Governors. When Mory’s reopens, it will feature a new “pub menu” available between 11 a.m. and midnight, along with updated lunch and dinner menus, Bloom said.

“I think today’s diners are looking for food that’s a little lighter that’s presented a little more interestingly,” Bloom said.

The three students interviewed said they were to eager to resume toasting in a revamped Mory’s.

“It was disappointing to hear that they weren’t going to be open right away, but not entirely unexpected,” Yale Political Union President Alexander Martone ’10 said, adding that the YPU was hoping to host events at Mory’s for the organization’s 75th anniversary in October.

More important than opening immediately is developing a successful business model, said Scott Hillier ’10, a member of the Whiffenpoofs.

Although he agreed with Hillier that Mory’s should wait to open until the club is ready, Matthew Shaffer ’10, who wrote an article last year in the Yale Free Press arguing that students should help Mory’s, said he wishes he had more of a sense from the Board of Governors as to what is happening with the project.

“I’m still very unclear on what’s going on,” Shaffer said.

Getman said he hopes to draw in more students with the reduced membership fees. Membership for students, graduate and undergraduate, for their time at Yale has been reduced from $40 to $15 dollars with a $10 food credit.

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