A short-lived burst of student opposition has not stopped the administration’s plans to replace the Armadillo Grill this summer.
Students circulated a petition to keep the Tex-Mex restaurant and bar, affectionately called “the Dillo,” days after a Jan. 18 article in The Chronicle reported its upcoming ouster. This petition, however, did not reach the Office of Student Affairs.
Both Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Rick Johnson, assistant vice president of student affairs for Housing, Dining and Residence Life, said they have not seen the petition to date, and plans to replace The Dillo are moving forward.
“There has been no talk about the Dillo moving back into that space,” Johnson said.
The student petition accumulated 1,000 signatures in fewer than five days, said manager Erika Garris. The owners of the Dillo could not be reached for comment.
The petition will not cause any changes for this Fall, however, because the contract for the Bryan Center space currently occupied by the Armadillo Grill has already been signed by the owners of the Loop Pizza Grill, Johnson said. He noted that Duke Dining reached out to the owners of the Dillo a year and a half ago, asking them to submit a proposal with an updated business plan to appeal to a broader range of students.
“The Dillo chose not to submit a bid,” Moneta wrote in email Monday, adding that it was not the University’s decision to close the restaurant.
Sophomore Brendane Tynes said she did not agree with the University’s request that the Dillo cater to a broader demographic.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable for Duke to ask Dillo to change its menu,” Tynes said. “What does the Loop have that other places don’t? If you want a burger you can go to McDonalds. If you want pizza you can order in. There is no convenient way on campus to get Mexican food.”
Garris said that her duties are the day-to-day running of the restaurant, but her superiors are working on trying to get the Dillo back on campus, even if it moves to a new location.
“It is in all of our best interests that Duke have Armadillo Grill on campus,” Garris said. “[The owners] are working diligently with Duke Dining”
Although the eatery is still slated to vacate its current location, Moneta said the University is open to the restaurant submitting a proposal to return elsewhere on campus.
The Dillo is scheduled to end service on May 17 and the Loop is scheduled to move in early August after renovations this summer, Johnson said.