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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Union faces budget issues

    Budgetary issues will force the Student Union Memorial Center to close the Redington Restaurant just as it prepares to open a new restaurant to take the place of Replay Entertainment.

    Redington Restaurant will close in May unless student union officials can find other financial support to sustain the eatery, said David Galbraith, associate director of dining services.

    “”The Redington Room is the poorest financial producer (for UA dining services),”” he said.

    Financially, closing it down is the best option for the university, he said.

    Redington lost an average of $56,000 per year from 2004 through 2006, and without reduction in overhead cost, the restaurant is headed toward a $70,000 debt this year.

    Redington Restaurant was implemented initially as a continuation of the “”high-end”” restaurant, in terms of service, from the old student union’s Redington Restaurant, said Dick Roberts, UA budget director.

    The restaurant has been operating on a restricted schedule since the first day it opened in 2003, he said.

    This decision has been considered for a long time, as there were continuing attempts to keep it open, Galbraith said.

    Two years ago, the student union looked for other businesses to run the restaurant, while this past year it began offering breakfast to generate more revenue, he said.

    After it was offered as a faculty club for a semester and saw only eight customers in five months, the decision was pretty clear to close it down, Galbraith said.

    “”Nobody even responded when the Redington was open for proposal,”” he said. “”If we have an identifiable outlet that clearly struggles financially … you find a way to minimize losses.””

    Galbraith said he believes there isn’t a restaurant that could survive on the second floor of the student union, with the exception of a big chain restaurant.

    Although people may not be happy with the closing, the student body could be better served by the decision and not losing the money, Galbraith said.

    An executive meeting center, which would be revenue-producing, could take Redington’s place, he said.

    Another option is that CafǸ Sonora could move from the first floor of the student union to the space now used by Redington, Roberts said, leaving room for a new restaurant.

    Despite there being a strong interest in producing revenue, the student interest is also at the top of the student union administrators’ minds in planning the services offered, Roberts said.

    Nearly all services contribute back to the students, he said, and even the leased spaces operated by McDonald’s, Panda Express and Papa John’s Pizza are asked to contribute to student interest.

    “”There is a public-persona responsibility the union has to impress upon visitors to the University of Arizona,”” Roberts said.

    The new eatery taking the place of Replay Entertainment in the student union is estimated to cost $19,248 per year for the next five years, he said, and it will amount to just under $100,000 for the entire project.

    Meanwhile, the lease for the space McDonald’s operates in the student union will be up in May and a dozen or more restaurants were contacted to take the space, including In-N-Out Burger.

    “”We knew we had a chance to get an In-N-Out to respond, despite not being able to pay as much as McDonald’s,”” Galbraith said. “”The quality of the product was the most important issue to the committee to try to fill the location.””

    The typical amount of revenue a restaurant in that location can make is approximately $1.6 million, he said.

    “”We were all baffled by the meager response by the restaurants contacted,”” he said.

    Only McDonald’s and Burger King have made offers for the space, although the final contracts have yet to be signed and confirmed.

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