Curtain Call Takes a Bow

Sarah Chandler

Without a renewal of its lease by the Hamilton Initiative, Curtain Call catering company has stopped taking orders and will have to vacate its location at 3 Lebanon Street by February 28.  After multiple setbacks and failed attempts to find another viable space within the community, Curtain Call will be closing its doors after 17 years of providing catering services to the Colgate community.

Curtain Call was opened in 1997 by Rob and Julie Standish. Originally started as a 12-seat sandwich shop, the business evolved into a catering company to capitalize on the high demand from Colgate for catered meals. The company has grown over the years and catered many events on campus including Women’s Studies Brown Bags, faculty receptions and Career Services functions. Standish estimates that over 95 percent of their business is catering on the Colgate campus.

The Standishes’ request to extend their lease an additional 10 years in August 2010 was denied by the Hamilton Initiative, but due to efforts from staff and faculty, the decision was reversed and Curtain Call’s lease was eventually renewed. Previously, Vice President for Community Affairs and Auxiliary Services Joanne Borfitz had stated that with the renewal came the agreement that it would only be for one year until January 31, 2014 and that it would be the absolute last extension. Believing that Curtain Call was not generating enough foot traffic into the village, Borfitz said that the decision not to renew the lease for longer was based on the perception that there are better uses for the space.

However, one month ago, Curtain Call’s place in Hamilton seemed more secure after the Standishes began negotiations with Wayne Foster who, according Rob Standish, offered them the deli space in the former Wayne’s Market. The space required only minor renovations and would have allowed Curtain Call to stay in Hamilton and continue catering events.

In light of these negotiations, the Hamilton Initiative decided to extend Curtain Call’s lease from January 31 to February 28 in order to give the Standishes time to finalize their plans and move into a new location.

Started in 1999, the Hamilton Initiative is a for-profit group which has purchased 11 properties in downtown Hamilton. According to Borfitz, Colgate University is the sole member of the Initiative and it is the vehicle the University uses to invest significantly in the village of Hamilton to vitalize the community, which in turn helps with recruitment and retention efforts of, students, faculty and staff.

The one-month extension of the lease was encouraged by new Vice President for Finance and Administration Brian Hutzley who helped re-open dialogue between Colgate and Curtain Call.

“Some people had some major concerns about the closing of Curtain Call and I felt that, as a new person, since someone asked me to look into it, I looked into it. I met with [the Standishes]; they were at a point where something had changed, it felt significant, and so we made the decision to give them the extra amount of time. They’d started to draw up plans with the Department of Health and met with potential location owners, and I felt as if they were moving forward. We felt that they’d made forward progress so we signed an extension. There was a hope and we were really excited,” said Hutzley.

Harvey Picker Professor of International Relations Fred Chernoff met with Hutzley and Borfitz at their request in order to discuss the best plan of action regarding Curtain Call. Chernoff has been an advocate on campus for Curtain Call and last semester he sent a letter in support of the business to

the administration.

Chernoff stated that the closing of Curtain Call would have the greatest impact on Colgate, which is why he felt as if he needed to make people more aware of what the company’s loss would mean.

Contact Sarah Chandler at [email protected]