The digs at 19 South Court Street have not been kind to businesses. GG’s Bubble Tea lasted only a year, and before that, 19 South Bar and Grill didn’t fare much better. Owner Dylan Armstrong, however, seems intent to remember lessons learned from the previous concept, and when The Dragon’s Cup opened in March 2012, it featured not only all of the menu of its former tenant, but also some creative new additions to make the business more versatile. In addition to the bubble teas, The Dragon’s Cup offers herbal teas of many varieties as well as some simple Asian dishes and treats from other local bakeries.
I have to say, it was a good idea to keep the same menu that the previous business offered. I liked GG’s bubble teas and smoothies, just not enough to become a frequent customer. I also like the expansion of the business with a tea house; Athens has plenty of coffee places. A tea house, one would hope, would bring in an entirely new demographic; and there’s little to no competition in town. I also like the idea of bringing food back to this business; one of the real failings of the previous business was that it relied too much on the namesake drink and became more a curiosity than a sustainable business.
These ideas are attractive in practice, but my complaint lies in their execution. The herbal teas and the bubble teas are great, but the menu itself really comes up short. We’re not talking a full-service restaurant here; it’s mostly rice bowls and ramen soups. I had hoped these would be creative or interesting, but not really. They’re as simple as they sound. Well, we’re in a college town here, and Athens isn’t a particularly wealthy town, either. Ramen noodles and rice are a staple of the local diet our of necessity, not choice. I don’t want to go out to eat to try them.
My other main complaint is the atmosphere hasn’t changed much, the restaurant has just seen a slight touch-up of paint. I get that The Dragon’s Cup is opting to be more of a quiet study place, but them why does it have “dance nights” on weekends? It’s a little confusing. The last business fell on its face after it failed to establish itself as a place people wanted to return to, and I feel like that charm is still missing here. The place needs a more solid identity; either through making itself a full restaurant with a bigger menu, or by making itself a late night study spot with more comfortable and intimate seating, or a dance club with alcohol. Right now it’s kind of all three, but not really. And once again, as much as I want to have a reason to come back, I don’t see one.
- The bubble teas and smoothies are great, and if you’ve never tried them, go for it.
- It’s hard to find an interest in tea if you never have, but the stuff has a lot to offer.
- Dragon’s Cup also has a lot of inexpensive stuff on the menu, so it gets points for being economical.