Night On The Town Can Be Arranged

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From The New York Times Published: February 3, 1985; retrieved: May 26, 2014

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Published: February 3, 1985


By Alvin Klein

FOR all the cultural and gastronomical treats served in the state, sometimes Connecticut residents want a night or a weekend ”on the town,” and that town is Manhattan.

And people who can afford it often want to be pampered – with choice theater tickets, restaurant reservations and a limousine in waiting.

With that in mind, Mark de Solla Price of New Haven formed Preview Guild, an entertainment consulting organization to perform such services for individuals or corporations.

Members of Preview Guild pay a $55 annual fee that entitles them to call the guild anytime with questions about shows or restaurants. They are charged $100 an hour for the time Mr. Price and his five-member staff spend arranging a night out for them, not including the price of events and meals. Nonmembers pay $150 an hour, in addition to the cost of the items, such as tickets and restaurant tabs.

Whatever the occasion, Mr. Price said he is prepared to coordinate it.

“We haven’t come up empty- handed yet,” he said.

Among the events Preview Guild has coordinated was a weekend for six members of a prosperous Texas family who were visiting New York and wanted to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade in style.

Mr. Price booked a private breakfast at a restaurant with a view of the festivities, complete with video monitors. Later in the day, a dinner of the traditional turkey and trimmings was delivered to the hotel where the family was staying. The entire weekend, which included tickets for a Broadway play, cost $10,000 – including the cost of hotel rooms and entertainment.

Mr. Price’s organization also receives a 10 percent commission from all arranged attractions, such as restaurants and booking agencies. or suppliers. such as florists.

Usually, an evening will consist of a client and his entourage dining out, attending a show, ballet or musical performance and then club-hopping.

Thus, Mr. Price is constantly in touch with Manhattan’s trendy restaurants and discotheques, as well as the more established ones. Such connections are necessary so that Preview Guild’s patrons can “get through the huge throngs, especially if they are not used to the New York hustle and bustle,” he said.

Mr. Price’s customers are “mostly corporations and the multi-millionaire crowd,” he said.

Coming up are a luncheon for group of investment bankers and a dinner party that will involve the presentation of a gold-plated elasticized stocking to the new president of an orthopedic-hosiery company.

“That won’t happen until March, and between now and then, I’ll be an expert on how to have a stocking gold- plated and mounted,” Mr. Price said.

Explaining the genesis of the Guild, he said, “In Connecticut, people were calling me up, asking for ideas and information about where to go and what to do. They needed a service.”

Consequently, Preview Guild, which started out as a service for Connecticut residents, has evolved into a more expansive information resource.

“Our customers want a concierge – and we’ll do it all smoothly: the tickets, the cars, the flowers,” he said.

At age 24, Mr. Price, who studied to be a chef, was an aspiring actor, worked at a computer concern in Stamford and co-produced the musical “Tallulah,” calls himself a “generalist,” a “host,” a hired “friend, yenta, Dutch uncle, adviser,” and a “matchmaker.”

“We match people up with what’s best for them,” he said.

Preview, the bimonthly newsletter published by Preview Guild, contains arts news and play and restaurant reviews.

In his lineage, Mr. Price numbers “a great-great-grandfather who built the St. James Theater in London and a great-great-uncle who was the composer of the Harrigan and Hart shows. He was Ned Harrigan’s father-in-law.” “Harrigan ‘n Hart,” a musical about the famous vaudeville team which originated at the Norma Terris Theater in Chester, opened on Broadway this month.

In the Manhattan loft from which Preview Guild emanates, Mr. Price holds Monday evening get-togethers for clients and members – a salon of sorts. “People tease me and say I aspire to be Gertrude Stein,” he said.