51 Main vs. The Grille: Got Beef?

This Thursday night there will be two competing Pub Nights: one MCAB-sponsored night at 51 Main featuring Reed Waddle and one non-MCAB-sponsored at The Grille featuring the student band, The Dead Jetsons Power Owl. After over a year, looks like The Grille and 51 Main are finally willing to go head-to-head and ratchet up the competition. Where will students go?

Last week, the Middlebury Campus called changes to the traditional MCAB Thursday Pub Nights a “renovation.” The article quotes Jamie Herther ’10, President of the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) and Alex Revelas ’10, MCAB Concert Chair:

“We noticed a big lagging in attendance to Pub Nights,” said Herther. “We began to notice that we were really only servicing one group of students.” So this year, according to Herther, MCAB is going for “quality, not quantity.” They will host just two Pub Nights a month, on the first and third Thursdays, rather than on a weekly basis, as they have in the past. The first will be held at The Grille, as usual, while the third will be shifted downtown to 51 Main at the Bridge.

“Both The Grille and 51 Main are College institutions that need our support,” explained Revelas. “Also, we think we will service a very different crowd. It’s a great way to get off campus, and a great mingling space. People can even just pop over before heading to the bar.”

Ever since the opening of 51 Main, there has been a tension between the two college-owned establishments. Both have have help from the College and MCAB is trapped in the middle. MCAB helps subsidize drink specials and brings bands for students on Pub Nights. When MCAB moves Pub Nights down to 51 Main, The Grille/Juice Bar loses some business from sales of Grille food and drink. The Grille is going from four Pub Nights per month last year to one per month this year. Financially, it’s a murky situation because the College provides funding to not only The Grille and 51 Main separately, but also for MCAB itself.

In the end, though, it’s all still the College. Moreover, the two venues can probably support different audiences/customers even on the same night. Some students are too lazy to get to 51 Main on a Thursday night. And it should be noted that a lot of events occur simultaneously each week. But with limited resources (read: money), the mentality of trying to out-compete the other College-owned venue with the same type of event (remember, both events are named “Pub Night”) seems a little ridiculous. Let’s try some differentiation instead. Either way, we’ll find out this Thursday, if students turn out at both venues, one venue, or neither.

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4 thoughts on “51 Main vs. The Grille: Got Beef?

  1. Has anyone in the College Administration considered where the tipping point is that making cuts to programming – whether that be lecture series or pub nights – will considerably change the college experience, especially for people who pony up 51K a year thought they were paying for? And too, regardless of all the cuts. I thought the student fee per semester was strictly used to support stuff like Pub nights and other student stuff not tied in with the rest of the college’s budget. Is that not the case? Are they coming up with new venues and events to replace the reduced number? OR are they simply trying to make the events they do have, better?

  2. You pose some good questions, Moe.

    You’re right that money comes from different places and in this case, it’s an complicated mix of College funds and Student Activity Fee (SAF) dollars at work. MCAB gets money from both the College (for use programming The Grille) and the SAF (for any student social use). The College cut their contribution to social life funds some last year. And both 51 Main and The Grille try to operate as close to businesses as possible. So the resulting situation then is a bit of jockeying.

    But do you really want the administration determining exactly what happens every night for you? Probably not, it’s good to have a diversity of programmers. Steps have been taken in the past few years to increase the amount of coordination and for that we should be thankful. I see this Thursday night as weird new competitive territory, though. For more precise information, contact Doug Adams in the CCAL office.

  3. Just to correct something in the article: We’re not The Dead Jettsons anymore; we changed our name to Power Owl. Ryan, any way you can amend the article? Thanks,
    Charlie

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