Get your Fix on: Students find comfort food with new mac 'n’ cheese restaurant
Everyone has his or her go-to food “fix.” Some crave the saltiness that can only be found in greasy potato chips. Others find their sweet tooth unsatisfied until that first bite of a moist cupcake.
But restaurant The Fix, new on University Boulevard, is already seeing success in sating the appetites of UA students with substantial portions of good ol’ mac ‘n’ cheese.
“Who doesn’t like mac ‘n’ cheese?” said freshman Maddi Wisler, who was drawn to The Fix for its home-cooked quality and gluten-free pasta options.
The Fix is known as Arizona’s mac ‘n’ cheese headquarters, as no other restaurant in the state specializes in the dish, nor offers as big a selection of mac ‘n’ cheese varieties.
But for those who are skeptical about the specialty mac ‘n’ cheese restaurant, as I was, you are in for a surprise.
Mac ‘n’ cheese might be naively equated with the go-to meal that baby-sitters fix from a blue cardboard box. The dish had certainly never seemed culinary to me and so I went into this assignment with preconceived notions of a rudimentary, satisfying meal.
What awaited me was something truly unique.
“The All-American,” recommended as the go-to for first timers, was perfectly baked with a crunchy blended cheese topping. Submerged beneath the cheesy layer was creamy elbow pasta paired with a secret spice blend that complemented the cheese and added something special.
All the mac ‘n’ cheeses are made from scratch with fresh ingredients and can be personalized with wheat or gluten-free pasta or various add-ins.
For meat lovers, “Bacon Bacon” is the most popular. Health junkies can’t get enough of the “Garden,” made with a top secret Alfredo sauce recipe. For more mature eaters, the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese is not to be missed. And the adventurous can dive into a Mexican twist on mac ‘n’ cheese called “Taco.”
Those who are still wary should start at the top with “The All-American.”
“You can’t go wrong with a classic,” says Wisler.
With five gourmet sandwiches and huge salads, The Fix caters to those fighting the freshman 15 as well. “Mac ‘n’ cheese is something everyone can enjoy — both young and old,” co-owner Amanda Rickel explained. “As a kid, you grow up eating it. Mac ‘n’ cheese is America’s number-one comfort food.”
Rickel has had a hand in the operation of many restaurants around Tucson and Phoenix. Now, it’s her turn to take the reins with her very own restaurant.
“I wanted something unique and eclectic,” Rickel said.
When Rickel first met fiancé and co-owner Adam Nelson, she told him that her dream was to own her own restaurant. After gaining 20 years of experience running restaurants and asking advice from friends and family as well as celebrity chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay, Rickel’s dream finally came true.
In about thirty days, Rickel, “the mastermind,” and Nelson, “the guy who eats,” took her concept and made it reality. “Giving blood, sweat and tears,” as Rickel said, family members and friends delved into the project, committing hours of continuous manual labor. They turned what was once the ornate Sultan Palace restaurant’s curtains, carpeting and individual floor seating into a bright and quirky yet “homey” restaurant that parallels the comfort of mac n’ cheese.
“It hasn’t hit me yet that I own my own restaurant,” Rickel said.
It’s constant work but Rickel is there everyday, bonding with her staff and making sure her customers are having the best experience they can possibly have.
“It’s worth it when you see where all your hard work is going,” she said.
Rickel was raised around food and the restaurant industry due to her father’s ownership of nine local Tucson eateries such as Baggin’s. She knows taste and quality. And more than anything, she loves supporting local businesses in Tucson.
“We want to stay student friendly but always involve the community,” she said.
Labeled as a “stress fix,” the restaurant also serves beer and wine. Once football season starts, The Fix will run tailgate specials and happy hours so fans can drop in to cheer on the Wildcats while catching the game on the restaurant’s televisions.
The Fix will also offer bicycle delivery on campus and begin accepting CatCard by next week.
At The Fix, mac ‘n’ cheese can’t be considered basic anymore. Now it’s a comfort meal just like Mom makes — except better.
For More Information
Follow The Fix on Twitter: @FixMeaz
Find them on Facebook too!
Look for The Fix at Beardown Fridays as well as percentage nights for UA clubs and organizations.