The Cougareat surprised students at the beginning of winter semester with large wooden tiki decorations. These were put in place to advertise the new Hawaii-themed restaurant Aloha Plate.
The restaurant has seen great success since its initial opening, according to Joe Tiapson, general manager of retail dining at BYU.
Tiapson said the Cougareat has previously had two other restaurants in the same location as Aloha Plate, but both were either moved or closed because of the difficult location.
Most of the Cougareat’s traffic comes from the north side of the Cougareat, and this particular location is not as visible to most.
Despite the challenge of a struggling location, Aloha Plate has been far more successful than Tiapson anticipated. The restaurant is currently going head-to-head in sales with some of the nationally branded restaurants in the Cougareat. Over 8,400 orders were served in the first three weeks since the opening of Aloha Plate.
Aloha Plate’s menu features Hawaiian plate meals complete with rice, macaroni salad and the customer’s choice of meat. Dole Whip, a pineapple flavored ice cream, is a favorite dessert for fans of the restaurant. Tiapson’s favorite menu item is the kalbi steak strips.
“The steak is marinated for more than 24 hours in our special homemade recipe created by our culinary team. This makes the meat tender and flavorful,” Tiapson said.
Barbara Lettich, assistant general manager of retail dining, said her favorite dish is the katsu chicken. Most restaurants use a pressed chicken thigh to make their katsu. Often causing the chicken to taste more like breading and less like meat. Aloha Plate uses a pressed chicken breast that is hand-breaded and fried fresh throughout the day so customers experience a tasty, crisp filet.
Tiapson said Polynesian students seem to approve of the new Hawaiian restaurant. One student from Hawaii even told him the food “was almost as good as (his) mother’s cooking.” Another student emailed him saying “that was the best tasting lunch ever! Nailed the island touch,” which Tiapson regards as high praise.
Both Tiapson and Lettich said Aloha Plate is one of the best restaurants on campus for students to get the most value for their money. This was one of their biggest considerations made when adding Aloha Plate.
Lettich said the novelty and high value of the restaurant’s food are drawing people to try the Hawaiian cuisine.
Tara Kay Skeen, a junior at BYU majoring in advertising, helped test and develop the menu for Aloha Plate. She is an office assistant for the assistant general manager of the Cougareat and part of her job responsibilities include helping develop menu items for the various restaurants in the eatery.
“I mostly helped with product testing, but also had some input in deciding what to serve based on research done on different Hawaiian and tropical recipes,” Skeen said. “I tasted the different options for menu items and gave my feedback.”
Skeen was excited to help with the development of the menu and said all students should try the Cougareat’s newest restaurant.
“I love Aloha Plate. I was so excited about its opening when we tested it last semester and liked almost all of the menu items. It’s delicious,” Skeen said. “My favorite is the mixed plate with shoyu chicken and kalua pork. I think this is a great opportunity for students to get a taste of something new and unique at the Cougareat. It’s added a fun and exciting element to retail dining, and its popularity definitely shows that.”