Visitors of Pottruck Health and Fitness Center this summer have been finding a familiar spot and boarded-up. The Energy Zone in Pottruck Gym closed last month after six years of operation, and the replacement convenience store is set to arrive after a few more weeks.
The June 30 closure comes after the University decided not to renew the store's lease in mid-May. Penn has instead signed a contract with Aramark, the company managing concessions for the University’s athletic facilities. Aramark will rebrand the location under the name Quaker Fuel and is expected to open the store for business in the beginning of August.
The new store will be offering a larger selection than The Energy Zone, Penn Athletics Chief Operations Officer Scott Ward, wrote in an email. Instead of just offering smoothies and snacks, Quaker Fuel is set to offer grab and go meals such as breakfast, soups, and sandwiches.
Ward added the previous operators of the Energy Zone had an annual renewal agreement with the athletics department. This spring, however, Energy Zone was notified that Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics would not be renewing their contract and their operation would expire on June 30, 2019.
The Energy Zone owner Yong Choi said the University notified him in May of the ending of the lease, which he said was too late for him to start a petition to keep the store open as most students had left campus for the summer. Choi said if the University wanted more rent, he would have rather paid the University more than "lose everything."
Keith Sadvari, one of the two employees at The Energy Zone, said, “[The University] didn’t say anything. They never formally complained to us. We didn’t get the chance to negotiate."
However, Ward said that the mid-May notification “was provided several weeks before DRIA was required to do so by the terms of the lease.” He explained that he is unsure if any specific concerns were brought up with employees of The Energy Zone prior to the termination of the lease as the DRIA two employees who managed the relationship no longer work for the University.
While The Energy Zone is closing, Brysi Cafe, another location managed by Choi, will continue to operate in Franklin Field. Choi said the lease for Brysi Cafe will expire in two years. The lease for the location is managed by Facilities and Real Estate Services, according to Ward.
Choi said the two former permanent employees at The Energy Zone will move to Brysi Cafe, while the part-time employees were laid off.
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