New student center opens first phase with Residential Dining option; Blazer Dining closes

Champions Kitchen will open to students on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. Pushed-in high-top chairs sit at Champions Kitchen on Friday, January 5, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Rick Childress | Staff

Rick Childress

The first phase of the long-awaited new student center will be opening this weekend.

Champions Kitchen, the new 750-seat residential dining option, will begin dishing out food to meal-plan students for the first time this Sunday at 2 p.m.

The interior of the dining center is sleek and modern and much of the decor is reminiscent of the interior of the Fresh Foods Company at The 90.

Specially designed salads and made-to-order burgers, vegetarian options to country-fried everything—Champions Kitchen will have a strong mix of healthy and comfort foods.

In general, students can expect offerings similar to that of The 90 or the now-defunct Blazer Dining.

“We are most excited about our brand-new facility, the state-of-the-art equipment, our brand new Southwestern station,” said Brad Scarboro, the Residential Operations Director for UK Dining.

The Southwestern station will offer a “Qdoba-type experience” and features UK’s only tortilla-making machine, so students craving tortilla-wrapped, Tex-Mex foods can get their fix.

Scarboro emphasized that many of the ingredients are Kentucky proud and come straight from Kentucky farms.

John Herbst, the executive director of the student center, said UK hopes to do a soft opening of most of the student center—including the movie theater, gym, bookstore, retail dining options, social areas—by late April.

Obviously, with the weather and other possibilities, that opening date could be delayed, Herbst said.

Blazer Dining, the old residential dining option on north campus, will be closing. UK spokeman Jay Blanton said the building will become temporary office space for other groups that need a place during other on-campus construction.

Bowman’s Den will close sometime in late spring after the retail dining options open in the Student Center.