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The last day of Quenchers: Students reminisce about the smoothie bar on 'LDOQ'

Barren protein shelves and empty produce trays can only mean one thing—the Quenchers era has come to an end at Duke. 

Sunday marked the smoothie bar's final day operating in Wilson Gym before it will be replaced by Red Mango, which currently resides in the Bryan Center. Quenchers' contract expired at the end of this year and Duke Dining announced in February that Red Mango would fill the location currently occupied by Quenchers with an "entirely new menu compatible with the market at Wilson Recreation Center." 

Senior Julia Medine, DUSDAC co-chair at the time of the announcement, told The Chronicle in February that the revamped Red Mango will include a wider variety of selections—from smoothies to soups and sandwiches.

Students pushed back against the decision, circulating a petition to keep Quenchers that received nearly 2,000 signatures. 

“Aside from providing students with some of the healthiest foods on campus and fostering healthy habits, Quenchers has carved out an emotional niche, as students genuinely love the staff and culture it provides,” senior Adam Kershner wrote in the petition. “Losing Quenchers would be an extremely heartbreaking event on campus due to the loss of a dedicated and beloved staff and healthy food options we rely on.”

In a post on Fix My Campus, former DUSDAC co-chair Brian Taylor—Trinity '16 and current student in the Master of Environmental Management Program at the Nicholas School of the Environment—said that Wilson's administration did not make the switch for financial reasons. Rather, the administration was not happy with the services Quenchers offered despite many attempts to fix the issues, he wrote. Jack Chao, owner of Quenchers, told The Chronicle in February that he never refused to listen to suggestions or make changes. 

On Quenchers' final day, students flocked the smoothie bar. I decided to see if Quenchers lived up to the hype for myself. 

I arrived at Quenchers around 10:15 a.m. with a couple of my friends and ordered a Peachy Keen protein smoothie. Some of the proteins and other ingredients were already dwindling—my friend ordered the last chocolate protein shake Quenchers will ever serve.

While I waited for my smoothie, I observed Quenchers’ remains. 

Across from the register was a stand of harvest cheddar Sun Chips that only held seven bags. The refrigerator next to the stand held a scattered collection of beverages: Deer Park water, fruit punch Gatorade, coconut water, Red Bull, two chocolate flavored monster milks and a lone Naked orange juice. 

Quenchers’ supply of self-serve snack shelves was not as sparse, with considerable numbers of yogurt almonds, Skittles and peanut butter pretzels left over. The options from the neighboring protein shelves were sparse, with only three protein powder jars and scattered chai and cave man protein bars remaining.

Sophomore Audrey Kornkven frequented Quenchers three to five times per week and viewed Quenchers as a “really good motivator” to look forward to after a work-out at Wilson. She said the “biggest problem” with Quenchers closing was that things that are not broken do not need fixed. 

“I think a lot of Duke students love Quenchers because there is nowhere else on campus where you can get protein that you would have after a work-out,” Kornkven said. “So, it’s perfect that its located in Wilson.”

She did not shed a positive light on the switch.

“Even though Duke seems to have an obsession with making things more extravagant, they don’t need to,” Kornkven said.

Sophomores Blaire Zhang and Jie Cai also shared their reflections on Quenchers. Zhang said that she was “really sad” about Quenchers closing, and both of them spoke to how they “did not understand Duke’s decision in replacing Quenchers with Red Mango.”

“I feel like Quenchers has done a really good job with providing healthy, nutritious food that’s especially really good for the gym atmosphere,” Cai said. “I don’t think Duke made a very good decision.”

Sophomore Alicia Sun said that she was sad to see Quenchers go and that the smoothie bar had been an important part of her Wilson experience. But Sun also provided a more optimistic outlook on Quencher’s closing.

“I’m also excited to see what Red Mango will have,” Sun said. “I’m sure it’ll be good, too. It’s bittersweet.”

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