FoBoGro space trades sandwiches for sushi

Media Credit: Rhea Bhatnagar | Hatchet Photographer

An employee at Rolls By U assembles a sushi roll. The sushi restaurant opened in place of FoBoGro's sandwich shop.

Your go-to lunch spot in the basement of FoBoGro is serving up sandwiches no longer. In its place is Rolls By U, a sushi burrito shop similar to D.C. favorite Buredo.

Rolls By U, which opened for business Oct. 3 and already had a location in Arlington, Va., serves create-your-own sushi burritos, bowls and rolls. Although students cannot use their GWorld cards to pay just yet, employee Omar Castillo said they should be able to use them within a week.

Castillo said he thinks customers will enjoy Rolls By U’s points system, in which customers who enter their phone numbers can earn points from purchases toward free food and drinks. A “rito” will earn members 150 points that can be used to earn free items, such as the 60-point brownie, 50-point drink or 30-point chips.

The taste varies wildly among the sushi options, so be careful when you order. The Blueprint rito ($10) is filled with grilled tofu, kale, lettuce, cherry tomato, avocado, shallot and green sauce and tastes dull with little to liven up the relatively bland tofu. By contrast, the ByU Crunch rito ($11), filled with shrimp tempura, crabstick salad, cucumber, avocado, crunch, spicy mayo and lettuce, had a much zestier flavor. The portions are filling, like a Chipotle burrito, and they are sliced in half so you can see the colorful ingredients inside.

Future plans for the spot include adding outdoor seating and sushi sandwiches to the menu, Castillo said.

Rolls By U is owned by the same restaurant group that runs the Georgetown sushi restaurant Maté and the Andean restaurants Chi-Cha Lounge and Guarapo, the Washington City Paper reported.

FoBoGro’s former owner and alumnus Kris Hart said in September he was ready to move on from the issues that come with running a convenience store: cash flow problems, technical issues, covering shifts for employees who couldn’t come and 11 break-ins during the first part of this calendar year alone.

Despite the occasional hardships, Hart said running the 70-year-old business, which he renamed as FoBoGro from Foggy Bottom Grocery, kept him connected to his years as a student.

Hart said he frequented the store for ramen noodles and cheap beer as an undergraduate student before becoming the owner in 2009, at age 25.

“I was honored to be a small business owner on a campus I love,” he said. “It was my baby. I loved it to death.”

Hart said he wishes Rolls By U the best and he hopes that “the people around here get a taking to sushi.”

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