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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Bear Down Kitchen hosts grand opening

Michaela Kane
Michaela Kane / The Daily Wildcat Zachary Baker cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening of Bear Down Kitchen on Tuesday while (from left)Wilbur the Wildcat, Frank Farias, Jason Rex Tolliver, Rich Rodriquez, and Greg Byrne look on.

The grand opening of Bear Down Kitchen drew students, faculty and staff to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on Tuesday.

Bear Down Kitchen is the latest eatery addition to the university and the first restaurant officially designed to draw student athletes. About 30 people attended the ribbon cutting event that marked the official grand opening of Bear Down Kitchen. Wilbur was joined at the grand opening by head football coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne, as well as Jason Tolliver, director of Arizona Student Unions, and Frank Farias, the associate vice president for Student Affairs.

“This is a testament to what can happen when you get a university’s departments crossing together to do things that are good not only for athletics, but for the institution as a whole,” Tolliver said. “We recognize how important facilities like this are for the recruitment of top athletes and [their] health. Facilities like this play a role in positioning us for the next level of competition.”

Although the facility has been open to athletes since the university’s football training camp in mid-summer, it didn’t officially open to the public until the first day of school. The past three weeks of its operation were a test, allowing the Bear Down Kitchen staff to monitor the flow of students, what students and athletes ate most and the preparation and managing of food operations. Some students were already taking advantage of the dining experience before the grand opening.

“I love it,” said Evan Hebert, a pre-business freshman and Wildcats baseball pitcher. “Every morning, I come here for breakfast. It’s good food, good service, and everyone’s nice here.”

Bear Down Kitchen was a result of a collaboration between the Athletics Department and the Arizona Student Unions and was inspired by templates from NFL teams and other schools that have similar training tables. Athletes needed to have a stable place to dine according to their nutritional needs. Thus, the training table was established, where student athletes’ meals are created and monitored by the athletic department.

The athletics program and coaches are helping to determine the Bear Down Kitchen’s menu based upon athletes’ nutritional needs. Zachary Baker, the executive chef and general manager of Bear Down Kitchen, was at the event to cut a UA stadium cake, support the official opening of his restaurant and answer questions on how the restaurant’s menu is created.

“The menu is created in a collaboration with the athletic department as well as an outside company called Chartwells,” Baker said, “but it is up to me to come up with the recipes and execute [them].”

Refreshments were provided for those in attendance, including hors d’oeuvre, cake and punch. Free meal passes was handed out to those in attendance as wellas well.

Tolliver cut the ribbon as a symbol of the official opening of Bear Down Kitchen.

“We certainly hope that this provides another venue for our students to come … for breakfast and lunch,” Tolliver said. “We hope that it will help alleviate some of the congestion that we see over at the student union. We are very focused on trying to provide venues where our students live and where they work … We hope we are able to grow the program from just what it is now to perhaps some things that are unique to this facility.”

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