All about football and poke, mon

University Sports Bar is a significant improvement; second poke spot set to open in town; Klean Kanteen gives back to the grid; and Dollar General helps kids read

There’s a new sports bar in town. I wrote previously about the reopening of the University Bar as the University Sports Bar, but I hadn’t actually made it down those stairs at Second and Wall streets until earlier this week. I must say, it’s a much improved U-Bar.

The most striking change, particularly for those of us whose first introduction to the space was a late-night air-hockey challenge, is the bar itself. I immediately noticed how, well, clean it is. Plus, there were menus! What? The offerings are few but varied—some pub grub staples, street tacos and a rotating selection of paninis. The latter sounded interesting, so I ordered the mac and cheese and ham panini on sourdough. The “kitchen” is more of a segment of the back bar outfitted with its own fridge, a cutting-board counter, sink and panini press.

In addition to the food menu, U-Bar also underwent a complete redesign of the space. The pool tables are now in the middle of the room and the air-hockey cubby has been eliminated altogether, with that table placed at the far end near the restrooms. There are some bar tables, as well as private-ish seating areas strategically placed facing big-screen TVs. I was told that NFL opening weekend was busy—surprising only because U-Bar has historically been closed on Sundays and Mondays and is now open both, starting at 10 a.m. on church day.

My panini was strange (mac and cheese on a panini?), but good. I look forward to watching this former, often sticky, college bar continue to evolve—stay tuned.

Poke, mon I mentioned a few weeks ago the opening of Halo Hawaiian BBQ & Poke on East Avenue (which, I might add, gets a big thumbs up from a Hawaiian friend of mine). But just last week, the sign for another poke place went up—this one on Second Street, where Bulldog Taqueria once resided. Details are pending, but this much I do know: Lucky Poke is owned by Jimmy Lee, the chef who recently moved his Aonami Sustainable Sushi into a spot directly across Second Street. Expect more on these spots in future weeks.

Green Kanteen One of Chico’s most ubiquitous manufacturers, Klean Kanteen, is greening its facilities. I got word that late last month the company installed 216 solar panels atop its Skyway headquarters, which are estimated to offset power usage by 107 percent. “Investing in a long-term solution to help save energy is another way we are able to positively affect our footprint and environmental impact as a company,” CEO/President Jim Osgood said in a press release.

Giving back Dollar General, which has stores throughout Butte County, recently announced recipients of $4 million in grants to benefit youth literacy programs. Two grants, of $3,000, each, will benefit local programs; specifically, Reading Pals in Chico and Cedarwood Elementary School in Magalia.

“Through our mission of serving others, we are excited to support literacy and education across the communities we call home,” Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s chief executive officer, said in a release.