Cup it Up serves fast, healthy food on the go

cup_it_up_2
Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

Cup it Up features a new soda brand, Stubborn, available on tap, varieties of which are also incorporated in their cocktails. The restaurant opened at Main Gate Square on April 1. 

Among the bars, shops and restaurants lining the short, crowded University Boulevard at Main Gate Square, a new take on fast, healthy food has opened its doors to the community. Cup It Up American Grill held its grand opening on Saturday, April 1, and presents a new take on build-your-own-entrée. 

Customers at Cup It Up build a portable meal with all their favorite foods tossed together. They begin with a main entrée with choices like citrus herb chicken or grilled jumbo shrimp, then add a grain base, greens, toppings, sauce and superfoods. There are numerous choices in each category, and vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are offered.

The restaurant also has a variety of non-cup items, including salads, sides of mac and cheese and caramel carrot cake for customers with a sweet tooth.

“We have all the options that everybody wants,” said Chris Smith, the owner and founder of Cup It Up. “There’s nothing on our menu that doesn’t hit home with somebody, and everything is fresh, 100 percent.”

This new location on the corner of University Boulevard and Tyndall Avenue is the second Cup It Up storefront. The original is located in the Trader Joe’s Shopping Center on the corner of Speedway Boulevard and Wilmot Road.

Smith said his original plan was to open the chain’s first location near the UA campus.

“We wanted to open up [at Main Gate Square] as our first location because this really fits our model,” Smith said. “I’m actually kind of glad we didn’t because we worked out a lot of the kinks.”

Smith is very passionate about the company and said he was thrilled with the success of the second location’s grand opening. As part of the celebration, the first 100 customers on Saturday received their meals for free and all customers who visited throughout the day received half off their orders. 

Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

Cup It Up opened its second Tucson location on Saturday, April 1, on the corner of University Boulevard and Tyndall Avenue. Boasting fresh ingredients, Cup It Up lets patrons create their own cups of proteins, greens, grains and other complements, or choose from a selection of signature creations.

Smith estimates that his team served over 750 customers on opening day and is confident the restaurant will continue to be popular, especially among students on the go. 

Cup It Up’s new location is specifically tailored to the UA students that make up a large percentage of Main Gate customers. CatCash is accepted, the restaurant is featured on Tapingo and it even has its own app to allow students to order food late on weekend nights.

Although the dining area closes at 9 p.m. each night, Cup It Up has a late-night window open until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. 

The idea that sparked Cup It Up came out of Smith’s need for portability. An avid golfer and traveler, Smith is always looking for meals that are quick, easy to eat on the go and healthy—a combination that he couldn’t seem to find too often.

Smith began asking the golf clubhouse restaurants to chop up chicken, lettuce, tomato and the like and toss it all together in a cup for his golfing meals rather than dealing with a traditional sandwich or entree.

“I could eat on the golf course without getting my hands dirty,” Smith said. “It was just more convenient than anything.”

The restaurant also has a full liquor license and a list of signature cocktails that combine tried-and-true favorites with sodas from the unique Stubborn Soda machine. All natural sodas like Lemon Berry Acai and Orange Hibiscus can be mixed and matched with classic drinks in whatever way the customer desires.

First-timers are welcome to try any ingredients they are curious about when crafting their perfect cup. 

When it comes down to it, pretty much all the ingredients can be combined to make a healthy, fresh meal to cater to every customer’s taste.


Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter

Share this article