Burrito Brothers Closes Doors After 40 Years
For 40 years, Burrito Brothers Taco Co. served up what many have dubbed “the best burrito in Gainesville.”
On Saturday, Feb. 4, the iconic, locally-owned eatery closed its doors and served up its last burrito.
In a Facebook post, owner Randy Akerson blamed revenue losses on the recent, neighboring construction project.
The post cites Landmark’s newest residential complex being resurrected next door, The Standard, affected the already-limited parking for Burrito Brothers.
Coupled with the cancellation of several home football games, the establishment fell on hard times, resulting in a $300,000 debt. While fundraising efforts helped initially, the efforts weren’t enough to keep its doors open.
“We had hoped that the developers at Landmark would understand what their construction has done to us, and feel some obligation to mitigate, and at first this seemed like it would happen,” the post read. “But once their lawyers were involved, they took the position that they had nothing to do with our difficulties.”
According to the post, Akerson considered filing a lawsuit, but ultimately could not pursue the lengthy and costly process.
“I believe that Gainesville has lost much of what made it unique,” said Akerson. “We have become a town filled with high-rises not built to endure indefinitely, and commercial spaces in which only chain corporations can afford to rent.”
“Few small local businesses like mine remain, and the number will continue to diminish,” he said. “The local economy is authentically imperiled.”
Communications director at the Chamber of Commerce Alyssa Brown said no complaints have been made in regards to this construction.
“In economic terms, it is hard to measure the exact impact of all of the activity in the vicinity of the University Ave and 13th St. intersection because it continues to be in a state of flux,” said Brown. “We are seeing a lot of new business activity and development in the area.”
“Our mission is to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress,” said Brown. “For that reason, we are always enthused about the opening of a new businesses in Greater Gainesville and regret seeing any business close its doors.”
For Eric Cravey, managing editor at Clay Today, one last order at Burrito Brothers was worth driving for. Cravey and his wife commuted 51 miles to share the establishment’s last moments with their son and his girlfriend.
“We had no clue we’d be sharing it with hundreds of others who had similar feelings,” said Cravey. “Some people brought their dogs and camped out. There was a sense of community among the chaos. Certainty merged with uncertainty.”
In the restaurant’s last few days, lines wrapped around the block and food began to sell out as early as 6 p.m.
Cravey, who wondered if the ingredients for his usual Primo Chicken Burrito would last, was first introduced to Burrito Brothers’ fare by his editor, a University of Florida journalism alum.
After his editor sent a staff member down U.S. Route 301 to grab each writer a burrito, Cravey was convinced.
“We sat in the newsroom and ate burritos and talked about food, laughed and were thankful for the break from the daily routine,” he said.
Burrito Brothers joins the growing list of local establishments to close their doors this year, including Purple Porpoise, Joe’s Deli, Orange & Brew and 101 Cantina. Leonardo’s Pizza is also expected to close its doors later this year.
“I think Gainesville will be missing some of its uniqueness. It’s establishments like Burrito Brothers that give a city character,” said Cravey, calling the restaurant a destination.
“Burrito Brothers closing is quite similar to a piece of your heirloom quilt getting ripped apart during moving into your new home,” said Cravey. “It won’t be the same again and you know it.”
New customers were becoming fans of the popular eatery up until its final hour and last burrito.
Sophomore and mechanical engineering major Donald Osbon had just frequented Burrito Brothers for the first time a few days before its closure.
“It was pretty great and I’m a little disappointed I found out about them so late. It’s a shame they closed after such a long run,” Osbon said.
“I think the construction from The Standard had an effect on the closing, as well as an effect on the traffic to other businesses in and around Midtown,” he said, calling the project an inconvenience.
Akerson hopes that his contribution and years serving Gainesville will far outlive his business.
“I hope that I will be remembered as someone who produced good food from fresh ingredients, cooking from scratch every day—someone who tried to treat everyone, customer and employee alike as he would himself like to be treated,” said Akerson.