This news has been a long time coming, but UT students will have to find a new place for burgers and shakes this fall.
Players, the popular burger joint on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, will close its doors by November 30. CultureMap has confirmed the closing date with Carlos Oliveira, Players co-owner.
Oliveira told CultureMap that the University of Texas, which acquired the property in February 2012 for nearly $4 million, notified the owners in May that the lease would be terminated. The university was required to give notice six months ahead of the termination.
As far as the iconic burger joint's future? Oliveira says Players won't be relocating. “It doesn’t look like that will be happening, because no place looks rent friendly. We haven’t been able to find places in the surrounding area that offer what we need, like parking space and a drive-thru, without being exorbitant.”
UT's attempt to purchase the property has been a lengthy saga. Eventually in 2012, Players owners and university officials came to an agreement that was brokered by the McCombs School of Business Foundation. The owners were paid $3 million cash and were given a lease valued at $1 million, under which they could operate rent-free for up to 10 years. However, the doors are closing sooner than expected.
“It’s definitely going to be bittersweet,” says Oliveira. “It’s going to be a big change for us as small business owners who have been open for around 33 years. But we’ll still get to be open to spend the rest of the football season with our customers.”
Oliveira also says that he and co-owner Edward Hempe are planning to pay special tribute to the numerous regulars that have been visiting Players since it opened in 1981.
“We just really appreciate everyone who supported us over the years,” says Oliveira. “To last as long as we have is a great accomplishment. We just really love the support we’ve had from students, faculty, alumni, athletes, coaches and Capitol employees. It was always really special seeing a second generation of students coming in after seeing their parents as regulars back when we first opened.”
For those regulars who hung out with friends after classes or during lunch breaks, there are still a few months left to grab a burger, a Shiner and make a final toast to a classic campus establishment.