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Farewell, Yats: A South Bend tragedy

| Thursday, April 4, 2019

Lina Domenella | The Observer

Eddy Street Commons lost a hidden gem this past month. Tucked away amongst fast food giants such as Chipotle and Five Guys was Yats, a lesser-known chain that had twice as much charm as the other joints. Though not the first, second or even third option for most students on campus, those who have dined at the Cajun style eatery appreciated its quirks. I’ll never forget the first time I ever walked through Yats’ doors. I was taken aback by the chandeliers that hung casually from the ceilings. Each chandelier had Mardi Gras beads hanging down as a nod to New Orleans and its celebration of the holiday. Honestly, the sight of the necklaces on a cold November night just made me chuckle. These decorations were coupled with the History Channel on the lone TV above the bar and smooth jazz quietly playing from the speakers. The décor was unique to say the least, and so was the food — in the best possible way.

Yats served a variety of creole-inspired foods, such as crawfish gumbo and chorizo étouffée. The warm stews were served over a heaping serving of rice. Each item on the menu was rich and full of flavor (take notes, South Dining Hall) — there was no bad option. And while the gumbo was delicious (for Midwest standards), the side of bread was the true star of the meal. As an avid foodie, I can wholeheartedly say this is one of the greatest pieces of bread I’ve ever tasted. Yats transformed a plain piece of baguette by slathering it in garlic butter and Cajun seasoning. My heart sang the first time I tried it. You may think I’m exaggerating about the quality of this bread, but I have testimonies from the small population of students who have dined at the restaurant. The consensus is unanimous — their bread was unlike any other. Yats was perfect for cold South Bend nights, especially during the Polar Vortex. I would’ve walked (and in fact, I have walked) in the extreme cold if I knew I would be greeted by that comfort food. Over time it became a go-to restaurant for its short lines, friendly service and the bread, obviously. Chipotle and Five Guys pale in comparison to Yats — a hot take, I know. But the undeniable charm combined with the non-traditional fast food set it apart from other Eddy Street establishments. I guess it’s the good ones that are gone too soon.

What becomes of the broken hearted? While every other restaurant had lines of hungry customers, Yats sat peacefully with its jazz music and Mardi Gras beads. Those of us who graced Yats’ tables will forever miss its quirks and irreplaceable garlic bread. The students who didn’t give it a chance will only ever know fake recipes that fail to do the baguette justice (I know, I’ve tried). We 35 Notre Dame students who took a leap of faith and entered Yats’ doors thank the establishment for its warmth and comforting food. You will truly be missed, Yats.


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