Bento Cafe to open in Plaza on University
Among the many new renovations happening this year in the UCF area, Bento Cafe will join the list of convenient restaurants for students.
The cafe will make way to the UCF area, with the latest location opening at The Plaza on University.
"The Plaza was chosen because it's new construction, it's a perfect time [and] location where they have student housing and it's in front of the campus so it's perfect for students," said Ariane Hernandez, media director for Bento Cafe.
The exact location opening date cannot be disclosed, but the restaurant will look to open by the new year.
Having started off in Gainesville, Bento, Hernandez said, was very popular because it was where a lot of the student traffic occurred.
"Moving to a location where we know the demographic is one of the reasons we wanted to move to UCF, as well," she said.
The new cafe will join two other Orlando locations, which are in the Downtown Orlando and Sand Lake areas.
"The food is just fantastic and the atmosphere is so welcoming and modern," UCF senior elementary education major Courtney Ray said. "My favorite thing on the menu is the spicy cream chicken."
"I'm from Gainesville and there are two there; it's definitely one of my favorite places," Ray said. "I seriously can't wait for the Plaza one to open. I've driven to the downtown location a few times."
Founded in 2002 in Gainesville by UF alumni Jimmy Toung, Johnny Toung and David Yu, Bento Cafe offers a creative Asian-inspired mixture of dishes on its menu, from stir-fry to fire-grilled items, using the finest Asian spices and the freshest meats, the website states.
"The concept is [that] it's cooked-to-order and prepared in minutes. Students would order whatever dish from the menu, cook it up and it will be made right away, under seven minutes," Hernandez said. "Time is essential for college students who are in a rush."
With its name originating from the Japanese word meaning "boxed meal," Bento Cafe aims to bring a unique way to serve authentic Asian food quickly and efficiently, the website states.
"What sets us apart in the UCF area is the type of food we have. It's not strictly Japanese and sushi," Hernandez said.
The Plaza location will also become the second Bento location in Florida to offer a bar.
Items from Bento Cafe's menu include appetizers, entrees, desserts and alcoholic beverages.
"It is an array of different foods from all over Asia," Hernandez said. "We also offer different food options like the bento box, rice and noodle bowl."
Along with the normal kitchen menu, a separate menu will be provided that is an all-sushi menu that offers items made-to-order from the sushi bar.
The sushi menu is categorized into rolls, including: classic, large executive, vegetarian, kawaii, sashimi and raw.
With prices starting at $4, customers can order rice or noodle bowls, bento boxes or a wide variety of sushi.
"I've been there a couple of times. The atmosphere is nice and the food tastes amazing," said Deon Cooper, a junior international relations-comparative politics major.
Cooper, who is also majoring in political science and sociology, also mentioned that he thinks Bento offers reasonable prices and has a wide variety of items on its menu.
"The prices are not outrageously high and the sushi selection [has] a little bit more [variety] than other places I've been to," he said.
Every store location is designed differently so it can make visiting each cafe an experience for customers, according to the website.
Each store will either be designed as "Bento Red" with warm, red dragon colors or the "Bento Blue" with cool, blue dragon colors.
Bento does not have any locations outside of Florida but has plans to also expand to Tallahassee and Tampa.
"Nothing is finalized, except in Tallahassee, but it's not under construction yet," Hernandez said.
Although plans are not set in stone yet, Hernandez is planning different student specials that will be offered for the grand opening.
"The marketing team and myself are getting together to think of ways to get students through the door," Hernandez said. "We can't disclose any information right now, but once the time comes, we will definitely make a huge announcement about it through our social media, on campus or just word of mouth."
Bento will also be offering jobs with applications to be picked up at any of the locations in Orlando or on the Bento website.