Jasmine reintroduction incites praise for renovations

Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar reopened Sept. 21 after having been closed for renovations for 3 weeks.

Jasmine began restructuring on September 3, making a number of major structural and aesthetic changes to the restaurant in the following weeks such as the addition of a new coffee shop, a full bar, an expanded kitchen, new menu items and a refurbished dining area.

While the restaurant was being remodeled, customers were still able to purchase take-out food from Jasmine and items from their coffee shop, but it wasn’t until the 21st, after a brief re-opening ceremony, that people were able to actually go inside and experience the new Jasmine.

The re-opening ceremony was scheduled to take place at 6 p.m., however the opening was postponed thirty minutes due to unspecified last minute electrical issues.

While the crowd waited, they were treated to free samples of coffee from the new coffee shop and the short delay did not seem to put a damper on any of the curious patrons gathered, all eager to finally see the new improvements.

Lance Allison, president of the Murray-Calloway Chamber of Commerce attended the opening ceremony to show his support for the restaurant and to introduce David Szemeredy, Jasmine’s Marketing Director.

Szemeredy thanked those in attendance for supporting Jasmine and for allowing Jasmine to share its unique dining experience with the community.

While Szemeredy did note the many physical alterations made to the interior, he said the addition of later hours of operation and new menu items were equally important components to the new restaurant. He said they wanted to create a place in Murray where both young and old could sit down and enjoy dining late night, a service which was previously not available to Murray.

Szemeredy said the main purpose of the changes was to create a new intimate atmosphere for customers; a cool, classy place reminiscent of New York fine dining.

Compared to other restaurants in Murray such as Shogun Japanese Steak and Sushi and August Moon, Szemeredy said Jasmine is in a different class, and is a totally different experience.  He said Jasmine serves more traditional food, while the competition serves more “American-Chinese comfort food.”

Szemeredy backs up these claims of superiority with Jasmine having been voted favorite restaurant in Calloway County by the Murray Ledger and Times in both 2010 and 2011.

As a result of Jasmine now being open later, until 10:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and until midnight Thursday through Saturday, they will be hosting late night musical entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We’re going to try and have a nice mix of artists performing here,” Szemeredy said, “DJ’s, electronic music, techno, classic rock, jazz, punk; a little for everyone.”

Jasmine plans on advertising their weekly musical guest on campus, as well as promoting their actual product through a new agreement between Jasmine and Food Services allowing Jasmine to sell their “Jasmine Express” sushi at Murray State.

The “Jasmine Express” sushi is prepared daily at 5 a.m. at Jasmine before being shipped to Murray to be sold.

Art Charnpanichkarn, the owner of both the Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar in Murray, established in 2006, and the Paducah branch, introduced in 2009, said the feedback he has received from customers thus far has been positive.  He said customers have really been blown away by the new renovations.

Andrew Yee, a sophomore from Elizabethtown, Ky., who attended Friday’s re-opening, said he was impressed with the changes, and the new look.

“I like it, it’s a lot different,” said Yee, “It’s very mellow and doesn’t look like the typical, main-stream Asian buffets.”

Shannon McClellan, a sophomore from Temecula, Calif., said her first experience with the new changes at Jasmine was not a pleasant one.

“Higher prices and no soup or salad bar to go with the lunch?” said McClellan. “I don’t mind if it’s saving them money to cut back on the soup and salad, but $11 for something I originally paid $6.99 for?”

Despite the opening weekend electrical issues that caused Jasmine to not only close early Friday, but stay closed until 6 p.m. the following night, and some resistance to the new changes, Jasmine has now officially been reintroduced to the community.

Charnpanichkarn said the next improvements to Jasmine will be the possible future renovations to the Paducah branch and the further development of their new website from which customers will soon be able to order their food, see who is playing at Jasmine that weekend, and provide different promotions for users.

Written by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.