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Friday, June 14, 2024
An empty space remains after Pollo Tropical closed in the Reitz Union on UF's campus Friday, April 28, 2023.
An empty space remains after Pollo Tropical closed in the Reitz Union on UF's campus Friday, April 28, 2023.

Formerly serving citrus-marinated chicken to lines of students, an empty construction area is all that remains of Pollo Tropical since it closed on April 26.

Pollo Tropical was the latest chain restaurant to close its doors in the Reitz Union food court, preceded by Papa John’s and Wendy’s. 

Despite the pattern, Pollo Tropical’s replacement caught some students off guard.

Pavan Munaga, a 25-year-old UF graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in computer science, was a regular of the restaurant and always saw people there. The closing was a surprise to him, he said.“I liked it, so I’m sad that it's closing now,” he said.He now eats at Subway and Chick-Fil-A, but he’ll still miss his main order of a crispy chicken sandwich and yellow rice, he added.

The series of chain replacements may be a result of UF switching food providers from Aramark to Chartwells Higher Education July 2022.

Matt Mueller, the director of food and beverage services, said UF replaced Pollo Tropical with other restaurants after reviewing retail locations on campus and wanting to provide students with more choices.“We must ensure we’re meeting demands by continuously introducing new offerings that add variety and diversity,” Mueller said.

Two New York-style restaurants, Halal Shack and Baba’s Pizza, will replace the restaurant. 

Halal Shack, modeled after New York City street food, features bowls and salads on its menu. The startup already has listed locations across 18 different college campuses nationwide, with another set to open in Nevada.

In addition to pizza, Baba’s Pizza will serve hot sandwiches and snacks like cheese sticks. It also has locations across three other East Coast college campuses.

Construction for the two restaurants is expected to be finished by late summer.

Contact Aidan Bush at Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Engagement Managing Editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and go kayaking.

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