While most students will be using reading week to study, the Yale College Council hopes they will also find time for some adventurous eating.
Next Tuesday, the YCC will be sponsoring the Ninth at Nite kick-off event, which will feature 20 percent discounts at selected restaurants in the Ninth Square district of New Haven. Although the area is only about a 10-minute walk from Central Campus, YCC representatives said many students are unaware of the district and its offerings, and they hope the event will bring added attention to the locale.
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Joshua Blair ’09, a JE representative on the YCC and chair of the its New Haven Economic Development committee, compared Ninth Square with New York City’s sleek atmosphere characterized by upscale restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries.
“The Ninth Square restaurants are a bit out of the price range for a normal day, but given the discounts, it could become more of a weekly or monthly thing for people,” he said. “By having this kick-off event, we’re hoping that students will see the area is not that far away, has good food and is not that expensive.”
For Tuesday night, restaurants Miso and Thali have agreed to give students a 20 percent discount in addition to 10 percent discounts on a permanent basis. YCC has also approached restaurants such as Nini’s Bistro, Central Steakhouse and Bentara about similar discounts. Although these restaurants have not officially signed on to the project yet, YCC representatives said plans will be finalized by the end of the week.
Office of New Haven and State Affairs Program Director Reggie Solomon, who has worked with the YCC to organize the program, said the Ninth Square district has a natural appeal to students because of its wide-ranging and affordable cuisines, and is ideal for those looking for a place to take their parents for dinner.
“It is an area downtown that is just right for student interest,” he said. “There are some [restaurants] that have some wonderful price points that would be great during lunchtime, and also places that would be great to go for appetizers.”
Yoo Jin Cheong ’09, another JE representative who chairs the same committee as Blair, said the idea began as a question of what the YCC could do for students and the Ninth Square district and progressed into planning the kick-off event.
“With the discounts, we’re giving students incentives to go out of the campus bubble and help foster a relationship between New Haven and Yale students,” he said.
Executive Director of Town Green Special Services District Scott Healy said that while increased student foot traffic in the Ninth Square district will not have a significant impact on the restaurants, which draw most of their clientele from greater New Haven, he hopes the YCC program will attract students to parts of the city outside the traditional student comfort zone of Temple St. and enhance their experience of the city.
“The idea is to get the traffic moving from the Yale campus further beyond the old school comfort zone [and] to see there is this vibrant neighborhood that is not that far from the campus,” he said. “It is not so much about enthusing restaurants with foot traffic … It is really about changing [students’] mindset [of the city].”
Despite YCC and New Haven officials’ enthusiasm, students such as Brandon Berger ’10, who had not been aware of the Ninth Square district, are unsure that the kick-off event will encourage them to leave campus and try the restaurants.
“It’s possible that I’ll check [Ninth Square] out, but the likelihood of me remembering on Tuesday night isn’t that great,” Berger said. “Plus, it’s so easy to walk downstairs and get a meal that I’ve already paid for.”
Ninth Square is named after the nine-square original layout of the New Haven city center. Formerly a depressed commercial district, it underwent a massive revitalization effort in the 1990s that included a $10 million investment by Yale.