New Haven restaurant owners predict an increase in customers when Yale dining hall workers go on strike next week, but most anticipate no serious problems as masses of students pack local lunch counters.
The University’s strike contingency plan calls for meal rebate checks to be sent to students’ Yale Station post office boxes Monday morning. While meals will be served in Commons and the residential college dining halls will open for continental breakfast, many students will journey off campus for food.
During the last strike in 1996, most students chose not to eat at Commons.
Tony Rescigno, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said he thought the strike might yield positive and negative effects for city restaurants. He said restaurants will probably see increased business from students as well as media and other visitors brought to town by fanfare surrounding the strike, but worried there might be problems as well.
“I would hope there’d be no disruption and people would be able to get into town and patronize the restaurants,” Rescigno said. “I just hope there isn’t any negative impact on the city.”
Bella Carlson, the manager at Clark’s Pizza and Restaurant, said she hoped the strike would draw in students who normally take their meals in the dining halls.
“I hope it has wonderful effects for us,” Carlson said.
Most restaurant owners and managers said they were not making any special plans for the strike. Frank Perrotti, the working manager at Kavanagh’s, said the restaurant was not planning any changes to its menu or prices. He predicted that things would be essentially similar to the way they were before the strike.
“I don’t assume any sort of problem at all,” Perrotti said. “The students are going to be well taken care of in New Haven.”
The story seemed the same at other city restaurants. Frank Patrick, the manager of BAR, said since “the kids have to eat somewhere,” he believed there would be an increase in customers next week but had no plans to increase staff, since once at capacity, the restaurant is at capacity, regardless of whether there are more people wanting to eat.
Of the restaurants contacted, only Au Bon Pain is considering increasing staff, a manager said. The restaurant might bring on one or two more people in anticipation of more business.
“I don’t know what to expect, since this is my first year taking over the store,” she said.
Many restaurant owners were reluctant to take sides in the strike and simply planned for business as usual.
“We appreciate everybody’s business,” said Mary Irwin, co-owner of the Rainbow Cafe.
During the last strike, many students chose to spend their money on groceries and other supplies instead of going out to restaurants. Residential college dining halls will be open during the strike so students can use the microwaves to make their own meals.
Of course, some students have plans for their checks that do not involve food.
“I think I’m just going to keep my money and spend a portion of it on food,” Tim Hutter ’06 said. “I’ll save the rest of it for recreational use on spring break.”