DUC adds a ‘Red Zone’

Josh Buckman

tudent couples on the Hill might soon be able to pay for their significant other’s meal using dining dollars at a new campus restaurant.

Next week, campus officials plan to open Red Zone, a new restaurant that will replace Grille Works in the food court at Downing University Center.

“The Red Zone needed to be a fun place to be – a place to take a date,” President Gary Ransdell said.

Dining Services Director Barry Wells said his department was asked to create a restaurant that combined Western athletics and the sports grill experience.

“Red Zone will be something no other university has,” Wells said.

The walls of the restaurant are being decorated with murals featuring past Western athletes and championship banners.

“This will become a learning environment for students to learn more about the past of WKU sports and celebrate it in a way that’s unique,” said John Osborne, associate vice president of campus services and facilities.

Red Zone will seat 159 customers at tables, booths and a bar. Various coffees and a Red Zone smoothie will be sold at the bar.

An outside patio with room for about 250 people is also scheduled to open later next month.

Students looking for the kind of entertainment offered at eateries such as Buffalo Wild Wings will no longer have to wade through the traffic congestion on Scottsville Road.

Red Zone customers will be able to watch sports programs on the restaurant’s 32 television sets. The restaurant will carry several sports packages from DirecTV, including the NFL Sunday Ticket and Mega March Madness.

A 20-seat theater with a 127 inch projection screen will be included in a small room within the restaurant area.

The theater will be available for viewing programs such as Monday night football and the Olympics, but will also be rented out to campus organizations, Auxiliary Services Director Rob Chrisler said.

Students will also be able to participate in an interactive trivia game while waiting for food.

Chrisler said meal prices will likely range from $7.50 to $15. Big Red dollars and dining dollars will be accepted, but dining service officials have not yet decided whether or not to accept meal plans this semester.

Food offered at the Red Zone will include everything from half-pound angus burgers to ribeye dinners. Red Zone will offer better quality food than what is typically found at a campus restaurant, Chrisler said.

Construction on the $1 million restaurant project began in June 2004. It was paid for by Aramark, the university’s food service provider, Osborne said.

Western covered the cost of the patio at $250,000.

“The environment, the location is great,” Osborne said. “The atmosphere is going to be tremendous. The food is going to be good. We just think it’s going to be extremely well received.”

The restaurant is scheduled to have a quiet opening sometime next week, which will allow the managers to determine what foods customers prefer. An permanent menu will be ready for the restaurant’s official grand opening sometime next week.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]