Cork & Craft (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Cork & Craft: Beer, Wine & a Full-Service Restaurant on Campus

March 8, 2024
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By Kevin Thomas
By Kevin Thomas

The University of Arizona’s student union now has a full-service restaurant featuring local brews and bottles. Cork & Craft opened last September and is the university’s first dining establishment with on-site alcohol sales. 

Chef Micheal Omo, the University of Arizona’s Senior Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Excellence and Quality Assurance, recently answered some of my questions about the newest dining experience on campus, his professional journey, and how Cork & Craft is helping students gain valuable experience in multiple fields. 

Chef Micheal Omo of Cork & Craft (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Omo has assisted in the opening of 10 new restaurants, including a Mexican restaurant where he collaborated with Chef Rick Bayless. Omo has worked with some truly special culinary minds, a list that also includes Emeril Lagasse

He’s also worked as a Restaurant Chef as well as a Banquet Chef for large hotel brands such as Pyramid and Westin. Omo has even helped a select group of chefs to create a nationwide hotel menu for Starwood Hotels and has been an Assistant Executive Chef at the prestigious MGM Grand Hotel, one of the largest hotels in the world.

Omo leaped into the academic dining industry because he “wanted a position that would allow me to continue to push food innovation and to share my experiences with others.”

When offered the job as Executive Chef at the university, he was “intrigued,” by the opportunity. “College food was moving from cafeteria trays of mediocre food to a wide variety of freshly prepared food using healthy, seasonal ingredients,” said Omo. 

Cork & Craft (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Omo and the team behind Cork & Craft are attempting to do something bold by taking the campus dining experience to a full-service level.

“The Cork & Craft menu was made to be ‘simple and approachable,’ we created the menu with an innovative twist using bold flavors, served in a relaxing and inviting atmosphere,” Omo said. 

Cork & Craft offers classic shareables like Bread Plates and Chili Cheese Fries mingled with unique takes on other classic starters, such as their Hush Puppies made with cauliflower rice and accompanied by hot honey. 

“This one of those items that is so good you can’t only have one,” said Omo about the Hush Puppies. “We’re sneaking vegetables into a traditional southern dish and giving it a Sonoran Desert twist with the honey, peppers, and corn nuts.” 

On the main dish portion of the menu, the local Craft Burger is made using dry-aged beef from Vera Earl Ranch. Their Chicken Avocado Club sandwich is made with artisanal sourdough bread from MJ Coe of Terra Farms + Manor

The average cost of a main dish at Cork & Craft is $11. Part of what makes this restaurant unique is its focus on being approachable to students. 

Cork & Craft (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

University of Arizona students can use their CatCard student ID as a valid payment method. This means that students 21 and older can use their CatCash to buy a bottle of wine or a local craft beer. 

A couple of the beers offered at Cork & Craft include Pueblo Vida Brewing Company’s local Wildcat Cerveza Amber Lager and Holidaily Brewing’s Fat Randy’s gluten-free IPA out of Colorado. 

Cork & Craft’s location, 1303 E. University Blvd., is on the main floor of the student union. Chef Omo provided his thoughts about the potential for students to use the restaurant as an additional vehicle for learning. 

“We have many different programs to engage with students,” said Omo. “I think of these classes as providing ‘life skills,’ because the skills that the students learn will be used for the rest of their lives.”

Cork & Craft (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Cork & Craft is working with university biotechnology majors to brew beer on-site, beer that is then sold to patrons at the campus establishment. In collaboration with the College of Agriculture, the restaurant is working to get students real-world experience. This program teaches students the fermentation process and the importance of implementing learning into real-life experiences. 

Open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Friday, Cork & Craft also offers Happy Hour specials with discounted drinks and shareables from 3 – 6 p.m. 

Cork & Craft is located at 1303 E. University Blvd. For more information, visit

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