With the grand opening of the new branch of Tai Chi Bubble Tea, there has been considerable hype about having a cute new place where people can get off campus.

The new eating spot has got me thinking, reader: What makes a good restaurant? Of course, the first rule is that it has to have good food — whatever it’s selling has to be worth the money we’re shelling over. But there are many other factors that matter — it explains why restaurants with amazing food close, but why others that don’t get up to par stay open. But other factors matter. Why else would it be possible for some restaurants with amazing food to close, while others with sub-par food remain in business? Let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of what makes a restaurant “good.”

First, the food offered has to somehow be similar to the food advertised by the restaurant. If I’m expecting a barbecue place and I walk in and they’re serving Chinese food, you bet I’ll be miffed. Reader, do not misunderstand me — I love Chinese food. But if I’m expecting barbecue, I’d like to get barbecue.

The second thing is that the restaurant itself must be presentable. It’s the little things that count here — the utensils look clean, the glasses don’t have cracks in them, and the salt and pepper are in matching (or at least complementary) containers. Is the table wobbly, making you wonder if your drink is going to spill, or is it safe and stable?

The next thing is the ambiance. The ambiance must put one at ease — whether it’s a dancing environment or one where you feel like melting into the comfy chairs — you have to feel safe and relaxed. I swear if I’m sketched out by a restaurant, the food tastes worse. This phenomenon can be achieved in several ways. One way restaurants do this is by cutting off all interaction with the outside world. There are minimal windows, low lighting, and the only prevalent sound is the gentle hum of other people talking. Other restaurants go for this “bright light” idea. The “bright light” restaurant has plenty of windows to let natural light in, lots of open space, and bright colors that make one feel like they’re eating inside of a pastel snow globe.

There are other aspects of what makes a restaurant good: the marketing, the staff, and the overall personality. But as a broke college student, I know that one of the most important things is the price. Is what you’re paying worth the experience you got? All of the other factors are part of whether or not the price equals the experience — and if it doesn’t, that restaurant isn’t going to be sticking around for too long.

So in this new year, reader,  I hope you visit many great restaurants — and, hey, if you have any recommendations, send them my way.

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