It has been nearly two months since Campus Dining Services converted former dining hall Eva J’s to Southeast Asian restaurant Sabai.
With the grand opening in the past, the question of Sabai’s success arises.
“I wouldn’t say we have brought in large crowds,” Sabai manager Nancy Monteer said. “We have good numbers, but we are not seeing the crowds we wanted to be seeing.”
Students who might be in that “missing crowd” category shared their reasons for lack of attendance at the restaurant.
“I haven’t gone to Sabai, and I don’t really plan on it,” junior Marie Milford said. “You don’t know what the portion sizes will be like or how the food will taste. I don’t want to risk the money. Unlike a regular dining hall where you can go back and pick something else out if you don’t like what you’ve chosen without paying again, Sabai doesn’t really give you that option.”
Monteer said the food focuses more on the authenticity of Southeast Asian cuisine.
“People may be a little disappointed because they may be wanting more of an Americanized version of Thai food whereas we serve more of an authentic version,” Monteer said.
Even though some students eat at Sabai, they say Eva J’s is still on their minds.
“I’ve eaten at Sabai, and I liked it,” junior Carolyn Lacey said. “I liked Eva J’s better though. I miss a lot of their food.”
CDS Marketing Manager Michael Wuest gave reason for the change.
“We saw our numbers at Eva J’s drop so we thought it would be best to have another facility with a limited and focused menu,” he said.
Wuest said the focused menu was modeled after one similar to Baja Grill.
A more focused menu might not have been ideal for some students.
“I think no one is eating there because it is not a need that needed to be filled,” senior Allison Repking said. “Removal of a dining hall may have been more of a detriment than a help. Instead of converting the whole dining hall they could have just expanded the Asian food section of Eva J’s.”
Some students who are fans of Sabai have given it complimentary comparisons.
“The people we have that come here regularly think it’s the best,” Monteer said. “Some have even compared it to Bangkok Gardens downtown.”
Sabai employees said they are trying to bring in more customers with new menu options.
“We are continuing to add to our menu,” Monteer said. “We just added chicken skewers. With this we hope to broaden the choices people have when they come to eat here.”
Wuest said Sabai isn’t quite up there with the more popular dining halls.
“In terms of customer numbers, we are about even which in our opinion is very well,” Wuest said. “However, we don’t have the same peak as them at lunch time as Rollins or Plaza.”