There's something new at the Blue Room this semester — hot entrees from Shanghai restaurant now alternate with Kabob and Curry to serve the nightly dinner crowd.
The Thayer Street Chinese restaurant has been serving Blue Room visitors for the past year with their Lotus brand of sushi and cold noodles. Starting this semester, the Blue Room also offers a line of Shanghai's hot food options available for purchase with meal credits, points or cash.
The idea of buying prepared foods from local restaurants came during the renovation of the Blue Room, said Jacques Larue, director of retail dining. Because the eatery would be open at night for the first time, Larue said administrators wanted to provide a new entree option for students. They chose ethnic foods, because they were not previously available at late-night eateries. Since the Blue Room does not have the necessary equipment to create its own entrees, they decided to outsource to local restaurants.
After a successful year of partnership with Kabob and Curry, Larue said the administration decided to team up with Shanghai in an effort to offer more variety. Ray Hugh, owner of Shanghai, said he was delighted to be chosen.
Shanghai is available at the Blue Room Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and Kabob and Curry is served Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, Larue said.
Hugh said the partnership is a matter of trust between the restaurant and the University, which has a sizeable account with Shanghai and accounts for approximately 15 percent of the restaurant's business.
Hugh is "very conscientious about his product," said Linda Whittaker, assistant manager of retail operations for the Blue Room and Campus Market.
"What I serve on my own dining room table, I serve at Brown," Hugh said, adding that he is dedicated to providing a variety of fresh, high-quality food with excellent service and integrity. He said the restaurant is not making money through its partnership with the Blue Room, but he is happy to provide for the Brown community.
"It's more of an honor than anything else," Hugh said.
Sanjiv Dhar, owner of Kabob and Curry, said selling his food at the Blue Room has had a detrimental effect on his business. Students are less willing to go to the restaurant when the Blue Room is more convenient, and restaurant traffic is down 15 percent compared with last year, Dhar said.
But Dhar said he owes Brown a lot after it helped him grow his business. "It's my way of giving back to the University," he said.
Kabob and Curry was notified about three to four weeks ago that they would be alternating with Shanghai at the Blue Room. "I'm fine with it," Dhar said. "It's the decision of the Brown dining room."
The Blue Room will also continue to feature entrees from the Sharpe Refectory kitchens, said Aaron Fitzsenry, culinary manager of retail dining. But this year, he said, they will pick and choose the most popular items instead of simply serving the Bistro option.
"I don't really like Indian food, so I'd always have to get cold sandwiches for dinner if I ate at the Blue Room," said Jessica Claflin '13. "I'm psyched that there's more options now. Plus, I really like Chinese food."
"If the students are happy, we're happy," Fitzsenry said.