Earlier this week, word swept across my Facebook news feed of a seismic shift that will fundamentally alter my dining choices. Regents from the University of Texas System gave the Austin campus permission to purchase the property that houses Players.
While negotiations are apparently continuing between UT and the owners of Players, I have already come to terms that I may have to find my new favorite burger in town. Knowing the culinary proficiency of Austin, I’m aware that it shouldn’t be too hard to fill the burger-shaped void in my heart.
But it sure as hell is going to be difficult to accept the loss of a place that is so indelibly tied to my developmental Longhorn years.
When first stepping foot onto campus, the primary objective of any wide-eyed newcomer is to socialize. This goal is composed of two important actions: Finding new friends and finding a new place to hang out together. Once you took care of the first step, Players stood there as the obvious locale to meet up.
With juicy burgers, addictive fries and creamy milkshakes, Players was the best option to find some comfort food that helped to ease the uncertainty of living away from home.
Sitting on the corner of MLK and Whitis, it is easy for any Longhorn novice to find without having to venture too far from campus. With juicy burgers, addictive fries and creamy milkshakes, Players was the best option to find some comfort food that helped to ease the uncertainty of living away from home.
While attending UT, I was a proud member of University Democrats, though the weekly meetings could sometimes turn into a bit of a chore. But at the end of the night, there was always the promise of a Players burger and a chance to chat with friends (and even make some new ones). It was a welcome opportunity to relax and chill after discussing politics.
On a cold evening in 2010, Players would be the place where my heart was broken, along with a packed house of burnt orange-wearing fans. The Horns were back in the national championship and everyone in that restaurant had visions of another crystal football being hoisted by another All-American Longhorn quarterback.
Sadly, those dreams took a nosedive barely out of the first quarter (and I would prefer to not go into any further details of that painful night). Still, I’m glad that I had a chance to share that pain with other morose Longhorns. I have been to my fair share of home football games, but it was at Players where I first felt like I was part of an extended community.
There are be plenty of minor yet memorable times this place gave me, and many countless others, too. I know that this was probably the place that many had their first sweet sip of legal beer. I wouldn’t be surprised if its walls have witnessed innumerable first dates, as well.
I will always remember Players as the most comfortable place in Austin to get the best comfort food. It will always be the first place that made me feel at home, when this town was just starting to become my new home. And while the fate of this UT establishment may still be up in the air, I will make sure to savor each burger a little bit longer from now on.