‘It was my favorite place’: students reflect on the permanent closures of local restaurants

Grace Barnes and Jennifer Errico

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 12 issue of The Daily Texan.


Each week Charlie Garcia used to set aside $20 from his serving tips to eat at Fricano’s Deli.


West Campus favorite Fricano’s Deli first opened their Nueces Street location in 2011. Nine years later, April 21, 2020, they permanently closed after city orders at the time prohibited dine-in services due to COVID-19.


“It was my favorite place,” advertising senior Garcia said. “There’s no way I’m ever going to find a sandwich that I like as much as Fricano’s. I’m saying that with full confidence.”


155 Austin restaurants, including Fricano’s, permanently or temporarily closed their doors between March 1 and July 10, 2020, leaving many employees without jobs and UT students nostalgic for their favorite spots.




Alicia Davila, radio-television-film and English senior, said Fricano’s was the first place she ate in Austin.


“Fricano’s (really) gave the feeling of Austin … it was very homey and I really enjoyed it,” Davila said. “I think it was my family’s first restaurant they ate at because I would bring everyone there.”


Varsity Pizza and Pints


Varsity Pizza and Pints closed their Duval Street location May 2020 after serving the Austin community for 20 years. Architectural engineering senior Jack Gallagher said all of spirit group Texas Iron Spikes were disappointed by the closure.


“It was our spot,” Gallagher, president of Texas Iron Spikes, said. “There’s nothing else like it, and now it’s gone. I would usually show up at 12:30 (p.m.) and stay until our meeting at 7 (p.m.)”


Gallagher said he misses the camaraderie. He said he and other members of the spirit group knew every Thursday they would all be there.


“It was exactly like Central Perk in ‘Friends,’” Gallagher said. “We had our own elevated wooden section of the restaurant we would always sit at.”


Gallagher said he’s sad he can’t share Varsity Pizza and Pints with his brother who will be attending UT next fall.


Magnolia Cafe


The 24-hour diner on Lake Austin Boulevard known for its Tex-Mex and classic breakfast dishes permanently closed its doors April 16 after serving Austin residents for 41 years.


Garcia also has fond memories of the West Austin Magnolia Cafe, where he said he went on his first date with a former boyfriend. It became their special spot.


“I (remember ordering) my own breakfast sandwich with the little potatoes they used to have, and he got the mac ‘n’ cheese,” Garcia said. “Every single time we would go out on a ‘date date’ … we would go to Magnolia.”




Government sophomore Alejandro Casteñeda said he met one of his best friends at QDOBA during his first semester at UT. After their philosophy class, they often walked to the location at the corner of 24th Street and Guadalupe Street to eat and do homework.


“I miss the vibe,” Casteñeda said. “It was really nice sitting outside and just watching the (sunset) and there were never too many people. (QDOBA) became our space.”


QDOBA first opened their Guadalupe Street location in 2011 and permanently closed nine years later on July 2020.


“I don’t think Austin will be hurt by one QDOBA closing, but all the businesses it’s losing because of COVID-19 is hurting the soul of the city,” Casteñeda said. “It’s sad to know all these memories you’ve built (around a location), won’t be there anymore.”