Subaba: Raising the Bar for Washington Heights Restaurants
In the 2016 spring semester, a flashy green sign went up on Amsterdam Avenue near 187th Street, and there was a buzz around campus about the opening of a new restaurant. Students were used to using words like “greasy, unhealthy, and dirty” when referencing the restaurants on the YU campus. At times, they felt that they were spoken to rudely by employees and that they were rushed to leave the restaurant upon finishing their meal. This is exactly how Daniel Elam, owner of Subaba and YU graduate, felt in his time in Washington Heights. Said Elam, “I was one of those kids who always ate out at restaurants but I never felt warm and welcomed when I was there.” He decided to take matters into his own and to open a restaurant of his own, Subaba. With the opening of Subaba, students have noticed a difference. They have changed those adjectives to “clean, healthy, and tasty”, and feel at home in Subaba. “Our goal is to offer the best quality and healthy food to students and also offer a place for students to do their work, study, or just hang out with their friends,” explained Elam. “There are places like this in every other college campus, there should be one here too.”
The food sets the tone at Subaba. The management claims that they are not trying to be just another Israeli-styled restaurant. In fact, the owners of Golan and Subaba are friends and don’t consider themselves to be directly competing against each other. Elam described the restaurant as “a kosher version of Subway, with healthier options and the highest quality kosher meat.” Sandwiches can be made in subs or wraps and whole wheat options are available. Student-favorite dishes, which include the Bissili Schnitzel and the Tasa Subaba, can be mixed with a plethora of different toppings and sauces, with every order being a build-your-own style sandwich. The best meat on the market is used, and the chicken is cooked on the spot to ensure the highest quality of food for customers. There are also a slew of different build-your-own-salad options, with green options of lettuce, kale, arugula, and spinach. Subaba is committed to offering students healthy, tasty options at highly competitive prices for their customers. Junior Boruch Gralnik said “what has impressed me the most with Subaba has been the combination of quality food and a stellar customer experience.”
Subaba also wants to raise the bar of the overall restaurant experience offered to customers. Subaba’s delayed opening was partially due to the renovations Elam wanted to make to create the best atmosphere for YU students. There is Wi-Fi open for students to use for work as well as 4 outlets and USB charging stations next to every booth so students can charge their devices while eating. Furthermore, Elam plans on unveiling student lunch and dinner specials in the near future to help create the best value for customers. Speaking of prices, Subaba’s prices are in line if not cheaper than its competition in the Heights. Elam stressed the importance of being a restaurant that always has the students in mind; something that wasn’t available to him during his time at YU.
To the question of whether or not Subaba will be joining with YU and allowing students to pay with their Caf cards, Elam said “of course we want to be on the Caf card. We want to work with students in any way we can.” The holdup has been on the University side, as they have had difficulty adding another restaurant onto the Caf card. Elam expects Subaba to be on the card by the end of the month.
Overall, students want Subaba to succeed, because students want a place that they feel a connection to and a management team that they know will have their backs no matter what. While still in its fledgling days, we can already thank them for setting the tone for all campus restaurants, and hope that the care they show their customers will radiate the rest of Amsterdam Avenue.
photo credit: yeahthat'skosher