An abandoned food stand has sat empty in front of the of the Harry Ransom Center for two years.
The University-owned stand was shut down by O’s Campus Cafe, the company that used to manage it, after not being able to make any profit. Pending interests in reopening have kept the stand there since its closing in 2015, according to Marla Martinez, associate vice president for financial and campus services.
Joe Sauta, O’s Campus Cafe general manager, said the stand’s location makes it hard to generate profit. Competitors on Guadalupe Street made it difficult for the stand, almost unnoticeable amidst the greenery near the HRC, to attract customers, Sauta said.
“It’s not a great location,” Sauta said. “Foot traffic is relatively close, and you might think, ‘Oh, well it’s not that far to walk over,’ but you’re out there on 21st Street, and you’re right next to other food vendors.”
O’s Campus Cafe runs food stands and coffee shops in the Tower, the Belo Center for New Media and 10 other locations on campus. The stand was originally placed in front of the HRC in 2003 to give visitors and staff a place to grab refreshments. Sauta said he asked a few years ago for the stand to be moved elsewhere on campus with more foot traffic.
“We would love to have it moved or have somebody take it,” Sauta said. “I’d rather somebody move in there and do something with it other than just having it out there because it’s in really good shape.”
Martinez said in an email that the University contemplated moving the cart to Speedway after its closure.
“We considered moving it to Speedway but with the redesign of Speedway and the plan for food trucks, this was not done,” Martinez said.
Attempts were made to have Austin Roasting Company take over the cart, but they backed out after complications involving licensing and other fees, Sauta said.
HRC retail manager Monte Monreal said in the three years he’s been at the University, he only went to the cart once, shortly after he began working at the HRC.
“Ever since then it’s always been closed and sitting there,” Monreal said. “Eventually you just stop noticing it, it just becomes a part of the background. At this point if it suddenly moved, I would be more jarred by that than the years of watching it sit there and gather dust.”