It always surprises me when restaurants that aren’t national chains close on the Drag by the University of Texas. I understand that brands with major name recognition, big operating budgets and inexpensive menus have an advantage with the college crowd. But I’d still think there’d be enough interest to help keep other businesses going strong. That’s not the case. Proven in the past week by the closure of Big Bite (415 W. 24th St.), popular for its big sandwiches, and Pizzeria Vetri at 2421 San Antonio St.
The latter closing is especially vexing, as the operation was started by James Beard award-winning chef Marc Vetri of Philadelphia, who sold his pizza operation to Urban Outfitters. The lifestyle brand opened the pizerria next to its retail store in 2015. The Neapolitan pies were some of the best of their kind in town, and the restaurant across from UT sold a couple of dozen labels of beer. Maybe the price was too much. Maybe kids today don’t share the love of food my friends and I had in college in Washington D.C. 20 years ago. Whatever the reason, two more restaurants on the Drag have bowed out of the game. At least there’s still Teji’s at the south end of the Drag, Fricano’s Deli near 24th and Guadalupe streets and, further north, beyond the Drag, Via 313 and Hopfields. Those places would be getting a lot of my money if I was still in college or teaching classes today.
- Austin360 Dining Guide: Pizza all-stars