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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The Lab tries to break the ‘cursed’ spot’s history on University Boulevard

Michelle A. Monroe
Michelle A. Monroe / Arizona Daily WIldcat Students lounge in The Lab, the new bar and restaurant that replaced O’Hungry’s on University Boulevard. John Jareet, right, a business sophomore, said he and his friends used to go to O’Hungry’s and have continued hanging out at the spot despite the switch.

University Boulevard seems like the perfect place to open shop. It’s close enough to campus to be named “University,” after all, and already hosts an alluring lineup of restaurants and shiny boutiques.

Main Gate Square boasts eateries and trendy clothing stores, and is held in high esteem by college students striving to get off-campus, as well as visiting parents and hungry faculty. You might think that once a business sets up shop along UA’s “Rodeo Drive,” its finances soar and its success can keep it in business forever. Thanks to the captive market, it would seem hard to go wrong.

But one space, 944 E. University Blvd., fails to capitalize. Some even call it “cursed.” 

This space is like University Boulevard’s version of the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teaching position at Hogwarts.

But The Lab is hoping to win where so many have struck out. It stands where O’Hungry’s once endured the “curse.”

O’Hungry’s first opened in the spring of 2010, but it wasn’t long until this San Diego dive lost its original allure and the space stood vacant. 

Chow Bella, an Italian restaurant, inhabited the space before O’Hungry’s, but quickly lost steam as well.

Since its opening in May of this year, The Lab has blasted popular rock and roll music from its outdoor patio and tried to entice potential customers by offering different fare than Espresso Art, its next-door neighbor. 

The family-run restaurant has a unique story: It was started by a lad who decided to put all of his chemistry knowledge from the UA to better use by serving 1/2 yard drinks from glass test tubes and beakers.

But this restaurant’s quirky charm may not be enough to escape the disadvantages of the unassuming location. 

While the owners try unsuccessfully to cover the forest green outdoor walls with a generic banner offering happy hour specials, a lot needs to be reinvented indoors. 

Half-Grecian columns jut from the sponge-painted yellow walls, undoubtedly remnants from the space’s past tenants. A newly installed bar also doesn’t make up for the lack of mad chemist-themed decor. 

Nonetheless, this family restaurant is determined to conquer the negativity and looming “curse.”

The Lab may be able to beat out all the superstitiodedxus mumbo-jumbo with help from Tucsonans rooting for locally-owned businesses and word of mouth from students seeking to relax away from the Henry Koffler building with a beaker full of liquid.

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