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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Student designs Rec restaurant

Student designs Rec restaurant

The UA’s remodeled Student Recreation Center now features a student-designed restaurant.

A classroom competition project allowed UA design senior Joseph Ekloff to design every aspect of Fuel, from the floor plan to the countertops to the backgrounds of digital menus.

“”There’s a lot more that goes into it. More than you think,”” Ekloff said. “”There’s a code for everything. There’s a budget for everything.””

Ekloff said budgetary concerns and code standards for disability accessibility of the center changed some of his original and more modern plans for the center, a project that went from design to completion rather quickly.

“”We started the middle of last semester,”” he said. “”We were introduced to the project and we have a few weeks to nail it all down.””

As one of three finalists, Ekloff’s design for the then-unnamed restaurant went through market testing with students and was eventually chosen for the final product.

Ekloff’s design for the patio was delayed due to budget reasons. Mark Zakrzewski, interim director of UA Campus Recreation, said he was trying to make the center open to the community and a better revenue source for the Rec Center as a whole.

“”We always try to enlist student help as much as possible,”” said Meredith Franklin, who handles marketing for Fuel, “”And what better way to do that but with a student?””

But for now, the concept, according to Franklin, “”is what makes sense for the center. We wanted to do something healthy because the Union as a whole is trying to move more toward healthy.””

The restaurant opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and is a partnership with Arizona Student Unions, according Zakrzewski. He spoke about the new restaurant in a presentation about new features at the Rec Center to the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

“”Fuel, our new eatery, just opened this week so there are some healthy food options,”” he said. “”We want to create a new model for the Rec. If you look at Rec Centers across the country, you won’t find a lot of people that are doing what we are doing.””

The remodel of the lobby, Zakrzewski said, gave them the ability to add new aspects to improve the Rec Center’s space.

“”We took that as an opportunity to add the academic components, the restaurant (Fuel), the retail space and make it a little more upscale and make it feel a little more, not necessarily like a spa, but more than a sweaty old gym,”” he said.

Franklin said the mission of the restaurant was to make salads, flatbreads and wraps, “”grab-and-go food,”” to make healthy eating after a workout more feasible for students. Also, she said, making sure the restaurant was using tomatoes from the UA farm, herbs from the Student Recreation Center rooftop garden and biodegradable take-away containers, all support the mission of the eatery to be more sustainable.

Even flat-fee refills on electrolyte water for any container a student brings in serves a sustainable purpose.

“”I would say Fuel is healthy eating on the go and you just don’t get that anywhere,”” Franklin said. “”There’s really no salad drive-thru’s.””

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