DUSDAC hears pitch for sushi eatery

At DUSDAC’s meeting Monday evening, seniors Trevor Ragan, Shaan Puri and Daniel Certner (pictured left to right) present their plan to open a quick-service sushi eatery on campus next Fall.
At DUSDAC’s meeting Monday evening, seniors Trevor Ragan, Shaan Puri and Daniel Certner (pictured left to right) present their plan to open a quick-service sushi eatery on campus next Fall.

As early as next Fall, students may find a specialized sushi option closer to home.

At the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee’s meeting Monday night, seniors Daniel Certner, Shaan Puri and Trevor Ragan presented their plans to open Wasabi, a quick-service sushi eatery, on campus.

Wasabi differs from typical sushi restaurants because of its “have it your way” ordering system that allows patrons to customize their rolls, Puri said. The eatery will sell affordable sushi in an upbeat, casual atmosphere. The concept combines two popular trends—high-quality sushi and assembly line preparation.

“As Duke students, our sushi options are extremely limited,” Ragan said. “We think Wasabi is the new fresh twist to dining we’re all looking for. Imagine if the Apple store sold sushi.”

Ragan, Puri and Certner were inspired by growing chains like Chipotle and Subway that emphasize made-to-order options. The three seniors are prepared to put their post-graduate plans on hold and invest full-time in this enterprise, Puri said. Although they initially considered other locations, such as Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, Ragan, Puri and Certner want to open the first restaurant site either on the West Campus Plaza or in the Bryan Center.

The seniors plan to petition funds from several different outlets. If they are unable to get funding from the University, they will look to outside vendors to cover the initial startup cost of about $150,000.

“I think [Wasabi] has a huge novelty appeal,” said DUSDAC co-Chair Jason Taylor, a senior. “In the first year or two, it’ll be a hit since you’re selling the experience and the brand. As for just selling sushi in itself, I’m not sure how successful that will be, but I don’t want to dismiss it until I see it.”

In other business:

Director of Dining Services Jim Wulforst also discussed the University’s dining policies in cases of inclement weather. During severe weather days, keeping the Marketplace open on East Campus is the first priority because of the mandatory freshman board plan. Key West Campus eateries like The Loop and Armadillo Grill are also priorities, Wulforst said. Only a few dining locations on campus, such as The Refectory, Panda Express and Joe Van Gogh coffee shop, were closed due to the recent inclement weather.

“I don’t think a student should ever have to worry about where to eat on campus,” Wulforst said.

He praised the efforts of University staff who provided transportation for more than 20 employees.

“The managers from Armadillo Grill slept here over the weekend. They didn’t go home,” Taylor said. “I’m sure it was difficult working with strained staff and feeding all the hungry kids on campus. I was thoroughly impressed.”

Also, Wulforst announced that the new Central Campus eatery is on schedule to open March 1 and will be located in the space previously held by Uncle Harry’s General Store. The 3,200 sq.-ft. restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night options, as well as takeout foods like packaged sandwiches, salads and fruit. Beer and wine will also be offered.

The option of tipping with food points at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and Dale’s Indian Cuisine on Ninth Street should be available soon, Wulforst added.


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