The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

UWL students launch Spark Smoothies: A healthy addition to campus dining

James Czupryna (left) and Alex Ewig (right) owners of Spark Smoothies. Photo taken by Isabel Piarulli.

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sophomores, Alex Ewig and James Czupryna, are introducing a new food option to campus: a smoothie shop known as Spark Smoothies, located on the lower level of the Student Union. 

Ewig is a finance major minoring in business analytics and Czupryna is a marketing major minoring in photography. The two are from Hudson Wisconsin and became friends during their sophomore year of high school. 

Ewig explained what makes Spark Smoothies stand out is an atypical ingredient customers can add to their smoothies. “Caffeine. That’s where the ‘Spark’ comes from,” said Ewig. “Add a spark to your day, that is supposed to refer to a shot of caffeine.” 

The current menu offers four smoothies that can all be customized to fit individual preferences with additions such as whey protein powder, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, and a 100mg caffeine shot. 

“We know a lot of campus is active,” said Czupryna. He referred to the roughly 85% of UWL students who participate in one of the many recreational, intramural and club sports on campus. This number is separate from the students who occupy 31 NCAA DIII athletic teams at UWL. The two identified this level of involvement as a compelling reason why smoothies will be a valuable addition to campus. 

“College kids are in a rush we understand that it takes a while to get healthy food sometimes,” said Ewig. Both founders saw this as an issue at UWL. “We realized there weren’t the food options we were looking for,” said Czupryna. After finding the unoccupied food vendor spot next to the area previously known as ‘The Cellar’, they took their idea to University Centers Director, Kyle Burke. 

UWL has a contract with Chartwells to provide food services to campus, Spark Smoothies will work through their same food supplier; Reinhart. “We pay 15% of our sales, 7.5% goes to the school, 7.5% goes to Chartwells,” explained Czupryna. 

For now, customers can pay with cash or card. However, Spark Smoothies is working with Chartwells to have dining dollars, a component of UWL students’ meal plans, become a viable option for payment. 

Spark Smoothies faces the challenges that many businesses within the food industry do, such as labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. “I have learned through experience that the food industry is pretty difficult,” said Ewig. The experience Ewig referenced involved another food establishment he started in his hometown. 

“In Hudson, another high school friend of mine, we started a snack shack, called the St. Croix Snack Shack. It’s kind of like a concession stand on the beach,” explained Ewig. 

One of the major challenges currently confronting Spark Smoothies is employment. “We would like UWL students to work there,” said Czupryna. With employees, Ewig and Czupryna could expand the hours the shop is open. 

“It’s kind of rough because we would like to be open in the morning and we both have classes in the morning,” said Czupryna. Currently, Spark Smoothies is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

When asked if owning a business in the food industry would be a future career either of them would pursue, both answered that it is not their plan. “I am more interested in the business side of things, getting a business up and running and profitable,” said Ewig. 

As a finance major Ewig handles more of the financial tasks within Spark Smoothies. “I’ll be making sure that we are tracking our expenses,” he said. 

Regarding owning a business in the food industry as a post-grad career Czupryna said, “Maybe. I am open to the possibility… It’s more like specific things [within running Spark Smoothies] apply with what I want to do. I can apply my photo minor in our marketing and in other things in the business.” 

This is not the first new idea Ewig and Czupryna have made happen on campus. They previously established a student organization called Positive Impact Society, a club dedicated to finding realistic ways to enhance the world. 

“We want to do a partnership with them [Positive Impact Society], where we donate an x amount of our profits,” said Ewig. 

The two are looking forward to collaborating with other student organizations, especially the ones they are involved in. Czupryna is the Vice President of Sales Club and Ewig is the Vice President of Investment Club

“The first year is definitely going to be a lot of trial and error,” said Ewig. Both founders are determined to see Spark Smoothies thrive and persist following their time at UWL.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Isabel Piarulli
Isabel Piarulli, Executive Editor
Year at UWL: Junior PGPs: She/Her/Hers Hometown: Menasha, WI Major: Psychology and Political Science Minor: Communication Studies Other Campus Involvement: Student Association CASSH Senator, University Centers Admin Assistant, Psychology Club, Pre-Law Society member Future Plans after Graduation: Attend law school Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Visiting Pearl Street Books
Donate to The Racquet Press

Comments (0)

All The Racquet Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *