Cork & Craft: UA’s First Restaurant with On-Site Alcohol Service

Liv Leonard, El Inde Arizona

UA students can grab a beer and burger at the newest restaurant in the Memorial Student Union.

Cork & Craft quietly opened in late September, the university’s first restaurant that serves local craft beers and wine alongside a  menu of charcuterie boards and bruschetta dips.

Although the servers are dressed in slacks and button-ups, Cork & Craft’s menu prices aim to be student-friendly.  The focaccia grilled cheese with roasted tomato soup, for example,  is $10, while the half-pound Wagyu-style burger is $18.

For CatCard users with a UA meal plan, Cork & Craft accepts it. That’s right, with a swipe, you can enjoy a glass of wine and bruschetta dip. 

Cork & Craft takes up the space previously home to The Scoop, a Shamrock Farms quick-service creamery, and Pangea, a multi-cultural cuisine fusion restaurant. Both closed as a result of the pandemic.  

The restaurant was expected to open in August, but there were delays in licensing and getting menu ingredients, said Student Union representative Adam Harper, a senior film and television major.

The restaurant was conceived from a student committee representing a number of campus organizations that was formed in the fall 2022. The goal was to come up with ideas to increase student involvement campuswide. 

The committee met every month in the union and in February 2023, Todd Milay, senior director of Arizona Student Unions, asked what restaurants or services would students most likely engage with on campus. The committee proposed the idea of a gastropub, something that hadn’t been done before at UA. 

“Our idea was that the university has a very unique opportunity when compared to a lot of bars and restaurants across the city. Not only do we have our service to correctly check ID, but also for a lot of students on campus with meal plans or not, we can also verify through the University of Arizona CatCard,” Harper said in response to concerns about underage students being served.  “It’s an additional layer of identification that you really can’t fake, and it was one of the main pitches that we had given to convince them to open,” 

Additional seating in the gallery immerses guests in plants and various artworks. Courtesy: Adam Harper

As of now only experienced bartenders are allowed to serve alcohol at Cork & Craft, while students are able to host, serve, and bus. Some UA students also expressed concerns about serving beer and wine in the union. 

“Part of me just prefers the idea of not having alcohol on campus. I just think it’s dangerous. How many professors are going to be like, yo, my kids are showing up drunk to my classes?” said Samantha Daly, a UA senior majoring in English.

Students and faculty can enjoy food with friends in the new dining room.
Students can enjoy a beer with their burger at UA Memorial Student Union’s newest restaurant Cork & Craft.
Courtesy: Adam Harper

In collaboration with local breweries Pueblo Vida, Barrio, Moto Sonora, and Dragoon, Cork & Craft offers six beers on draft and nine in cans, including Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.’s Sonoran-style amber lager naturally named “Wildcat.” 

Pueblo Vida owners Linette Antillon and Kyle Jefferson were thrilled when Arizona Dining approached the couple in June.  

“As alumni, it’s just super exciting to us to do something as part of the UA and be this piece of something that we grew up with. That’s where we met, so it’s definitely our little happy place,” Antillon said. “We love the UA community, walking on campus, the mall, everything.” 

Antillon and Jefferson graduated from the Eller College of Management in 2009, Antillon with a degree in marketing and Jefferson in finance. The two opened Pueblo Vida in November 2014 and produced over 200 craft beers. 

Pueblo Vida’s Wildcat is available in cans at Cork & Craft.

Meanwhile, the UArizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences could be adding its own brews to the menu. The ag college offers a class on beer brewing and Cork & Craft has contracted with the college to sell the first batch in the restaurant in the spring. 

Cork & Craft is now open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the main floor of the Student Union, located at 1212 E. University Blvd. During Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays, you can get $1 off beer and discounted food items. 

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