Across the city, businesses are preparing to open their doors to Yale students and their parents for Family Weekend.
While all hotels, restaurants and stores around campus know that this weekend will be one of the busiest of the year, newcomers and mainstays are taking different approaches to prepare for families’ arrival. Some younger establishments like Box 63 and The Study are hoping to draw in customers with special features, but Yale staples like Mory’s and Atticus are planning to conduct business as usual and rely on their reputations to bring in the crowds.
The Study, located on Chapel Street, opened just two days before families arrived in New Haven for FamilyWeekend in 2008, and director of operations Anthony Moir said since then the weekend has been an integral part of the hotel’s business. The Study sold out for the weekend six months ago, and raised its prices for Family Weekend from its usual $219 to $239 per night to $429, said Moir.
This year, The Study’s lobby will feature the Kibera Photo Project led by Tegan Bukowski ARC ’13 as an extra draw. The project provided cameras to children in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya, and allowed them to capture images of their daily lives. Guests at The Study will be able to take photos of themselves with the project to send back to Kibera.
Incontrast, the Omni Hotel on Temple Streetand the Courtyard Marriot New Haven at Yale on Whalley Avenuedid not raise their rates. On Thursday, the Omni still had Family Weekend rooms available according to Jill Flynn, director of sales and marketing. She added that the Omni will feature special food and drink options in itslobby throughout the weekend.
At Box 63, an even more recent addition to New Haven,co-ownerCarl Carbone said he is “flying blind” for his first Family Weekend, but is hoping to “share the Box 63 experience with the parents.” In their honor, Box 63 will be having an ’80s and ’90s video party on Saturday night.
In addition, Box 63 has partnered with Colleges Against Cancer and will donate 10 percent of brunch proceeds to breast cancer causes for the last two weeks of October, including Family Weekend.
But veterans of the Yale area are not putting on a show for incoming families.
Ben Gaffney, general manager and chef at Atticus, said the restaurant will not be offering any specials for Family Weekend, but instead will simply try to weather the storm of the increased demand. He added that the surprise closing of Scoozzi on Tuesday will only make things busier for Atticus.
Barry Cobden, owner ofthe apparel store Campus Customs,said “you never really know [whether it will be a big weekend] until it’s over, but we’re looking forward to it.” He added that Campus Customs will allow students and parents to enter araffleforone of itsYale winter sweaters over the weekend, and the winner will be picked on Monday.
Ken Adams, the new general manager of traditional Yale venue Mory’s on York Street, said he is excited that its recently added “Temple Bar”will be open for its first Family Weekend. George Koutroumanis, co-owner of Yorkside on York Street, said “sometimes parents want to go upscale,” but many come to the more casual Yorkside because they just “want to see where their students hang.”
“We think Yorkside is the only side of town you need to know,” he added.
Compared to other important Yale weekends like Commencement and move-in, employees at several establishments agreed that Family Weekend is a tamer affair.
Moir said Family Weekend is “more relaxing than move-in weekend” because families are not helping students settle in to school. Gaffneyagreed, adding thatitis also more casual than Commencement. Family Weekend, he said, is a time when most parents are “just happy their kid is at Yale,” whereas during Commencement many worry about making their visit perfect.
Before 2009, Family Weekend was called Parents’ Weekend.