| Bear's Lair comes out of hibernation
Three-month renovation to student-union food court nearly complete
By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
But over the summer, the space got a major facelift and is now an attractive eatery featuring the same popular food, plus more choices. The facility is scheduled to open this Friday, said Tom Cordi, director of ASUC Auxiliary, which oversees business operations for the ASUC.
"All the restaurants have upgraded their facilities with new kitchens and equipment, making them completely code-compliant," said Cordi. "And with the help of student workers, the common area was completely renovated over the last three months."
The remodeling included the removal of asbestos and floor tiling. The 7,000-square-foot space now sports walls sponge-painted in pleasing golden tones, new furniture, modern lighting fixtures and a stained concrete floor.
A new café, with fixtures trimmed in maple, is now stationed at the north end of the Lair. The uncomfortable wooden booths, formerly located there, have been replaced with cushioned benches equipped with computer ports built-in along the base, so visitors can sip a latté, munch a scone and check their e-mail, all at the same time.
The benches were made from the knotty pine paneling that used to adorn Pappy's Pub on the south end of the Lair. New dry wall was put up and painted, giving the pub a lighter feel. During the demolition, a stone wall for a fire pit, a gift from the class of 1910, was discovered. It had been sealed up behind a wall since the early 1960s.
"We're hoping to put in a new fire pit and utilize this wonderful gift that has been hidden for so long," said Cordi. "But we have to work with the fire marshal to make sure all safety codes can be met."
Though the pub has been renovated, there is not a vendor to run the facility, said Cordi. The previous vendor was asked to leave after infractions for serving alcohol to minors and license problems for serving alcohol on the west-side patio, a traditional drinking spot for students on sunny Friday afternoons.
"Right now we have a request for proposals out to bring in a vendor that is more responsible and will take strict steps to prevent these kinds of problems," said Cordi. "We'd like to offer more program services as well, and we need someone committed to doing that." For example, Cordi would like to see the pub - in conjunction with the student production group - host comedy nights, musical performances, poetry readings or sports parties.
Cordi hopes to have a vendor lined up soon and is expecting to have the pub, its adjacent patio and the west patio open shortly.
The Lair hosted its first event last Saturday as football fans filled the space to watch the Bears football game on a big screen TV. Cordi plans a similar party for every away game. The next one is at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7 against Arizona State.
In addition to the Bear's Lair, the student government offices in Eshleman Hall were renovated, a home for the campus's 30 student publications was created and a 24-hour open computing facility was built on the south end of the Heller study lounge, located on the second floor of the student union.
Renovations to the Bear's Lair and other student offices were made possible by profits generated by ASUC Auxiliary. Four years ago, the ASUC teetered on the brink of insolvency and was bailed out by a loan from the university. The auxiliary, staffed by campus employees, was created two years ago to oversee operations; it has since repaid its debt to the university and is now in the black.
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