Grace’s Café, an eatery in Trent Hall on Central Campus featuring Asian cuisine, will close at the end of this semester.
The restaurant’s closing is due to several factors—including unusable kitchen conditions and the opening of West Union June 1—said Dayla Bonds, customer service coordinator for Duke Dining. Grace’s owner Jack Chao, who also owns Quenchers, a smoothie and health food vendor in Wilson Gym, said Grace’s participated in a menu-tasting competition to try to earn a spot as a vendor in West Union, but Duke Student Government and Duke University Student Dining Committee members instead unanimously opted for new vendors Ginger + Soy and Gyotaku.
Ginger + Soy will feature East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines, and Gyotaku will be a sushi bar.
Bonds noted that renovations on the kitchen ventilation system in Trent would cost $500,000, making it impossible for any vendor to remain at the facility.
Several students expressed disappointment about the departure of Grace’s.
“I really like the authentic feel of Grace’s,” said freshman Evangeline Marecki. “I’m definitely disappointed it is closing down, and I hope that any future Asian restaurants will even compare to Grace’s.”
Sophomore Adam Yaseen described news of Grace’s closing as “a serious disappointment,” noting that it had been the dining option that came closest to offering authentic Chinese food.
Bonds wrote in an email that making sure there is authentic Asian cuisine on campus is a “top concern” for Duke Dining.
“[The West Union] will have the capabilities to produce a variety of authentic Asian fare along with providing a real sushi bar experience,” she wrote.
Bonds noted that offerings at Ginger + Soy will include a full service sushi bar, ramen noodle bar, dumplings (dim-sum), buns, Asian bowls and custom stir-fry.
Ginger + Soy and Gyotaku will be run by Don Yoo, the owner of Maru, located in Cary, N.C., which specializes in authentic Japanese and Korean cuisine and a sushi bar. In addition to offering these Asian options, Duke Dining is looking to expand its ethnic, vegetarian/vegan and allergy friendly choices with the opening of West Union, Bonds added.
New vendors will include Tandoor, which will serve authentic Indian food, The Farmstead, which will feature healthy food prepared with local ingredients and The Sprout, which will exclusively serve vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Bonds noted that although there will be an opportunity for new vendors to deliver, nothing has yet been determined. Students could order from Grace’s through the Merchants on Points program. DUSDAC is currently looking for new vendors for the program.
Chao noted that he is hopeful that Grace’s departure will not be a permanent one.
“We’ve been open since 1998,” Chao wrote in an email. “I hope we can come back very soon.”