Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Y Thai Eatery (and Betty) in the Daily Illini

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hidden YMCA restaurant: “Thai It, You’ll Like It”

Hidden in a small room on the first floor of the University YMCA is a restaurant that thrives on personal interaction and affordable, traditional food. Though they may not be well known, the Y Eatery promises its customers: “Thai It, You’ll Like It.”

Photo on Flickr.
Although it has changed quite a bit since its start, the University YMCA has included a restaurant for many years. Originally, the eatery was located in the basement of the building and was called the K Rooms, according to Betty Earle, director of operations for the YMCA. Until about 1985, the K Rooms dished up three meals a day and served as a place for students to spend time together while getting a bite to eat.

“I know this is hard to believe, but there weren’t that many restaurants on campus, so this was a big
hangout place for students,” Earle said.

After the K Rooms closed, the YMCA decided not to continue running their own eatery, but instead to
lease the kitchen space already existing on the first floor to another restaurateur. From this, in 1985, the Y Eatery was born.

Today, Saensuk Mokaphan owns and runs the Y Eatery with his wife. The pair took over the business
together last year. The eatery’s Thai theme stays true to Mokaphan’s heritage, although he says that’s not the only reason they choose to serve Thai food.

“For Thai food, there are only two, three stores around here. We wanted to keep more choices for the
customers,” Mokaphan said.

Mokaphan explained that the Y Eatery focuses mostly on keeping their food healthy for customers. There are vegetarian options available every day, and the owners make sure there is no MSG in the food.

The eatery is also dedicated to serving students in multiple ways. Patrons get their money’s worth of food, paying small amounts for large portions, which works well with the college student’s budget. The owners also employ University students as part-time workers in the kitchen.

Students say that being situated just off the quad and right in the middle of campus makes the eatery a good place to grab a quick meal between classes.

Ben Murphy, graduate student in Library and Information Science, decided to give the Y Eatery a try this semester. He said that the restaurant’s proximity makes it a great place to go when he’s working at the library.

Although the Y Eatery may not be extremely well known on campus, it gets consistent business from
patrons of the YMCA and brings in new people and new awareness for the YMCA.

“We definitely like having it as part of the Y. It draws people into the Y, we always want more people
coming in. It also helps get our programs out into the student community, as well as the non-academic
community,” Earle said.

Being housed in the YMCA building provides an atmosphere that’s welcoming to students and non-
students alike, according to Earle. She believes that all the elements of the Y Eatery are good enough to keep people coming back.

“We still have students that, when they come back on campus, they want to come on Friday because they want to go back to the Y Eatery,” Earle said. “Its reputation is far and wide, and it’s got a good one.”


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the
two informative, well-written, well-presented articles by the two YMCA interns. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed!