Citing “long lines” and “overcrowded areas,” students from Yale and Quinnipiac universities are working with the management at Box 63 so that the restaurant and bar and grill can better serve college students.
Under the management of Carl Carbone, Box 63 formed two student focus groups — one composed of 12 Yale seniors and another of 10 Quinnipiac seniors — to gather feedback on the student experience. In response, Box 63 will begin using identification card-scanning technology to track and reward frequent guests as well as to prevent underage visitors from misrepresenting their ages. Though the incoming policies have no specific timeline for implementation at this point, Carbone said he hopes the changes will improve students’ visits.
“It’s about recognition — if you frequent a place often, you want to be treated differently than someone who doesn’t,” Carbone said. “People at Yale want to be recognized for that.”
Once the new system is installed, he added, frequent visitors will be able to bypass the entry line, avoid cover charges and bring a guest. Also, managers and bartenders will be able to give a “subjective bump” to guests, letting them skip to the front of the line. Along with these privileges, a student-generated “secret society” will be formed, which will have even broader access to Box 63 and continually provide feedback on student experiences, Carbone said.
An unknown member of the Yale focus group drafted a proposal of the above policies after conversations with other Yale students about their experiences.
“Yale students can no longer expect to head to Box on Friday and Saturday nights to hang out with other Yale students,” the letter obtained by the News said. “Students will either face difficulty gaining entry or — after gaining entry — frustration that their friends were left outside.”
The letter offered four different options to serve as discussion starters to counter these issues. Two of the proposals included creating a “Yale-only” night on Saturday when only Yalies 21 years and older would be allowed to enter Box 63. The other two options considered creating membership cards for the bar that would be discounted for students.
The panel’s letter incited a satirical piece in the Yale Herald that critiqued the proposal.
“The flood of students who come from outside New Haven’s borders to steal our spots at the bar represents an infringement on our inalienable right,” David Rossler ’17 wrote. “Their flagrant actions are matched by the individuals congesting the entrance line, who may have been born in New Haven but don’t look quite like us Yalies.”
In an interview with the News, Rossler said he thought the letter was ironic because the same people who are quick to condemn faraway issues are unable to recognize that similar issues might be happening on a local scale.
Another Yale undergraduate — who requested anonymity since he frequents Box 63 and is under the legal drinking age — said the proposals in the letter were exclusionary for people of low socioeconomic status.
For Carbone, because some Yalies think of Box 63 as their “Manifest Destiny” and feel attached to the venue, it is difficult to balance the situation as a business owner.
“We’re making sure that Box 63 realizes that Yale University is its foundation,” Carbone said. “These focus groups are helping us re-establish how we serve that foundation.”
But regardless of who gains preference on busy nights, Box 63 remains a downtown bar for regulars and visitors to attend on weekday nights. While visiting New Haven on Monday night, West Haven resident Justin Sinaly came across Box 63.
“Box is good. I heard the manager making sure everything was in order, so it seems like they run a tight ship,” Sinaly said. “It’s a lot better than West Haven’s bars.”
Box 63 opened in 2011.