Adios, Del Taco. Hellooo, fewer drive-by shootings around campus! Although most students claim never to had stepped foot in the infamous Del Taco “restaurant” on Grand Boulevard, many were victims of the tantalizing 39-cent taco advertisements. If meat is being sold for less than a postal stamp, it should be an immediate red flag.
This flying saucer landmark was a Mecca for crime and food poisoning until its closing on July 1, 2011.
Good riddance. It is the only casualty of the economic recession that is widely celebrated. With its 24-hour drive-thru came a 24-hour crime opportunity around Saint Louis University.
Although students are thrilled to see it go, many St. Louisans do not share our fear and frustration with this pesky establishment and thus are disappointed that the historic “saucer” is no longer. Apparently its unusual shape has caused quite a splash with locals since its development in the 1960s. More than 12,000 people on Facebook liked the “Save St. Louis Del Taco” page with the slogan “Save our saucer.” Well, consider it saved. Although Del Taco packed up and shipped out, the unique architecture remains.
And with this UFO (Unoccupied Filthy Outlet) still parked near campus, students are eager to know what business will take off next.
Speculation says Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill will soon have their turn. Talk about an upgrade. Pity for those who live in Reinert or the Flats is immediately being replaced by envy. Griesedieck inhabitants will certainly make the trek more often to visit their distant neighbors once a gourmet burrito pit stop is a possibility.
The lease is in the works now, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the businesses should be up and running in time for fall semester. If I had one recommendation, it would be to stay open late. With the presence of a Chipotle, Pickleman’s will likely suffer. Customers will be trading in their late-night asiago chicken pizza cravings for a steak quesadilla with extra guacamole.
Furthermore, its presence reduces the need to escape our bubble in order to hit the Loop or Clayton to satisfy a hankering for Chipotle. However, it is usually refreshing to venture away from campus and into the urban jungle on occasion. On the other hand, getting to these off-campus locations is not an option for all; the proximity of delicious meals will feed the hungry underclassmen who can’t find any open dining locations on Sundays on campus.
Maybe some healthier options could have been preferable, but for now the supergiants are moving in and a new wave of freshman 15 (or sophomore/junior/senior 15) will probably hit the campus like an epidemic.
Nevertheless, it is enticing to picture a newly renovated and expanded South Grand saucer with crowds of students meeting up for lattes and tacos.
With this new development around campus, it will be interesting to see how it inspires other businesses. It is common for competitors to locate next to each other in order to bring in larger crowds from beyond the confined area where the closest consumers are located. Theory is that with the greater amount of people coming from farther distances, the businesses will make more revenue than they will lose to their competitor next door. So, should we expect the arrival of a Caribou Coffee and high end fast food next spring?
Not only does the advent of booming businesses around SLU excite current students, but it is also a lure for potential students. And happy students mean a happy Biondi.
Now, what to do about revamping the “Shady Shell?”
Stephanie Woods is a junior in the John Cook School of Business.