The Daily Illini

Is Teamoji good enough for Green Street?

Students wait in line to order at Teamoji on Oct. 16, 2017.

Students wait in line to order at Teamoji on Oct. 16, 2017.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

Students wait in line to order at Teamoji on Oct. 16, 2017.

By Brian Loh, Columnist

Out with Mashawi Grill, in with Teamoji: A tea shop that offers fresh takes on flavored teas and drinks never seen before on campus.

Except we have seen them. On Green Street alone, there are eight places that offer bubble tea within a one-block radius of one another. To be fair, Teamoji does offer a unique bubble tea that the other seven don’t, in the form of their signature “cheese float.”  But is more tea really worth taking up a two-story building with plenty of dining space?

College towns are breeding grounds for new and different kinds of restaurants. Because colleges usually have large and diverse populations, restaurants of all sorts can open without having to worry about whether or not their menus will be too ethnic for their locations.

In our area, the variety is obvious. If you want Asian cuisine, you can go to 6th Street and eat at JipBap. Or if you’re feeling some Mexican food, you can eat at Chipotle or Maize. And if you want both, Seoul Taco offers an Asian-Mexican fusion.

But for students who are without a car, the only restaurants that are easily reached are on Green Street, if they want to get something other than dorm food or avoid cooking for a night.

Because Green Street is a food hub, there is an abundance of restaurants packed into just a few blocks. If a restaurant wants to stand out, it needs to offer something unique.

However, Teamoji isn’t unique—not even close. It doesn’t add diversity to the offerings already on Green Street, and taking such a prime location seems like a waste.

But if it’s going to be there, it should make an effort to win students over.  Many already have a favorite bubble tea place, and if Teamoji wants to convert some Latea devotees, it needs to offer outstanding food.

Baked goods would be nice complements to the tea, but adding a bakery doesn’t seem tenable at this point. Alternatively, its menu could provide suggestions for items that would go well with each drink.

Mashawi Grill leaves Teamoji with some very big shoes to fill; until it can show it has something different to offer, Teamoji will just be another bubble tea shop with cheese on top.

Brian is a junior in Engineering.

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