Boxing out Toad’s

Box 63 may be taking a lot of Toad’s plus-21 crowd. Both establishments offer late-night entertainment to Yalies.
Box 63 may be taking a lot of Toad’s plus-21 crowd. Both establishments offer late-night entertainment to Yalies. Photo by Earl Lee.

After decades of dominating Yale’s nightlife, Toad’s Place might have some new competition.

Box 63, an American bar and grill on the corner of Park and Elm streets, opened this June and, since then, has seen a growing number of late-night regulars. While representatives for Box 63 said they did not believe they were taking business from Toad’s, many Yalies said they see Box 63’s atmosphere as an alternative to the popular night club. Seven of nine Yale students interviewed said they appreciated Box 63’s milder, Yale-only setting compared to Toad’s louder, more crowded parties.

“Most of the time I’ve been to Toad’s there was a Yale crowd. Box 63 does that consistently, including nights where Toad’s doesn’t have the Yale crowd. I’ve only been to Saturday-night Toad’s a few times and it was always a huge mess,” said Carlos Morales ’12.

Bethany Thompson, Box 63’s marketing manager, said that the restaurant has seen an unexpected surge in late-night customers, something the venue never planned for. When Box 63 opened, she said, none of the managers realized Wednesday and Saturday nights would be so popular.

“Last Saturday the line was out the door,” Thompson added. “It’s awesome to see our group of regulars expanding.”

Meanwhile, Brian Phelps, president of Toad’s Place, said that recent crowds have been a bit slower, adding that he does not consider Box 63 a rival, just another competitor. Thompson agreed and told the News that she thinks the two locations have completely different vibes and crowds, so it was unlikely that Box 63 would take many of Toad’s customers.

Thompson added that the biggest difference between Toad’s and Box 63 is that the age of the crowd at Box is older, since the bar only allows those over 21, which she said sacrifices a larger crowd for a more intimate atmosphere.

“While Toad’s lets you come as a freshman, we only allow juniors and seniors, and we’re tough about IDs,” said Thompson. “Toad’s is amazing because it’s available to all of Yale.”

Another difference, according to Thompson, is the type of music played. Box’s playlist tends to consist of older, classic songs, such as “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believing.” Sean Rainey — a local bar pianist — plays on Wednesday nights, usually leading to sing-alongs with the crowd.

“We play some modern rock, but you’re not going to hear Britney Spears here,” Thompson said. “Sean might play some Lady Gaga on Wednesday nights, but that’s as close as you’re gonna get [to today’s pop music].”

Some students said that the music at Toad’s could be overwhelming to people trying to socialize. Students also mentioned that Box’s Yale-only crowd made the place feel more intimate than Toad’s, where the parties can be packed with people from Southern Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac and other schools.

Ohioma Oni-Esleh ’12 added that he likes Box 63 more for its upperclassman crowd, and that he thinks atmosphere is more conducive to socializing.

I can’t even hear my own thoughts at Toad’s dubstep night,” he said.

And for her part, Thompson said that Box’s future looks bright.

“I’m so glad people like the vibe here,” Thompson said. “Sure people love loud music and dancing, but they also like socializing and drinking their face off in a fun environment.”

“Not that I condone binge drinking,” she added, laughing.

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