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A customer walks through the glass doorway of the newly remodeled University Center Market during Tuesday's soft opening on the University of Montana campus. The new design features a long coffee bar made of reclaimed wood from the Missoula Mercantile building. The student-run store is enclosed with glass walls and lower shelving that offers extra visibility for an open feel. Four registers and an updated sales system will speed up the purchasing process and flow of business on busy mornings once classes begin Monday for the spring semester.

After months of construction, the University of Montana's University Center Market reopened Tuesday morning. 

Gone are the bulky, black-framed doors and overcrowded floor plan; now stands an all-glass storefront allowing students and the university community to peer into the remodeled market as they stroll through the first floor of the University Center. 

The market, established in 1989 and formerly owned by the bookstore and operated by students of UM, is now run by UM Dining. The transition had some worried there might be big changes, but other than the remodel and open floor layout, UM Dining Director Camp Howard said they tried to keep the culture the same.

"There was a certain culture the market had. It was a little bit fun and funky. They played music and it was a happy place to be," Howard said. "We really tried hard to keep that culture."

Howard said the store will employ upwards of 40 students and will continue to provide customers with grab-and-go foods, local goods and an expanded selection of baked items from UM's Bear Claw Bakery. 

While the look is much more modern, freshman John Cote had mixed feelings on the renovations. 

"I like the old one. I'd been using it since I started coming here for writing and stuff back in the seventh grade," the Missoula native said. "The other thing, I don't like the new layout, it feels a lot more artificial, like an Albertsons or a Safeway. The old layout felt a lot more unique."

Cote added that while the clear windows look nice, they get dirty easily and "the tiniest smudge really stands out." 

But junior Brooklyn Johns of Helena was glad to see the UC Market reopened. 

"I think it looks really nice," Johns said. "It looks much cleaner than the other one did. It looks like there's a lot more healthy options and I like that there's a coffee bar." 

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Full-time student and UC Market manager Kaylee Nassiri, 21, stands behind the counter and visits with a friend at the market on Tuesday. Nassiri has worked with UM Dining Services for the past two and a half years. The political science major said she loves the sense of community and sustainability that the market encompasses.

Black Coffee Roasting Co. is the local establishment providing students, faculty and staff with their daily cup of joe, and student-manager Kaylee Nassiri said having local items stocked on the shelves has long been important to the store. 

Nassiri praised UM Dining for the sustainable efforts implemented in the remodel.

"We did use a lot of reclaimed wood from the Mercantile," she said of the historic downtown department store that was demolished last year to make way for a hotel. "So I think that really preserves a history of Missoula. We recycle all of our grinds for the campus gardens, so that's also really important to us." 

She added that this week is the soft opening as they work out some kinks before the start of the spring semester and return to normal hours on Sunday. Next week, she expects it to be packed as students come back from winter break. 

"The old market did some fantastic business. They were a really key staple for campus," Nassiri said. "I really hope we will continue to be a key staple for campus. We have a great location and I do think we will draw a lot of people in." 

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