Here and No Further

Yesterday, the Board of Regent for The University of Texas System authorized UT-Austin to purchase Players, the beloved burger joint.

photocredit: Austin Chronicle

In 2005, the University attempted to acquire Players too. At the time, the price offered by UT was too low for the owners of Players and UT was authorized to use eminent domain to seize the property. The rub: UT was planning on seizing it for a parking garage for a hotel. A petition drive started with some virtual signatures and mostly physical signatures (remember, this was Facebook wasn’t, it was and looked like this. Long ago!)

The media loved the story. I was on the Bobby Bones Show. The Statesman ran a story about the effort. TV news outlets reported it. We made noise. There was support in the Texas House and a bill won overwhelming support against the University using eminent domain.

I haven’t spoke with the owners since news broke yesterday. If they don’t want to sell, we’re going to help them. Save Players is back.

[ Website ] [ Facebook ] [ Twitter ]

“But Kraft, it’s just a burger place. There’s nothing particularly unique about it.” True, absolutely true. However, it’s that third space. For most of us, we have a first space (home) and a second space (work/school). We need our place to go to where we can relax and socialize. Players is that place for many folks in Central Austin. Virtually on campus (or else UT wouldn’t want it), it is easily accessible to the southern half of campus. From living in Jester to working at the University Catholic Center, Players was the place to hang out, meet with friends, watch the game and get a bite to eat. Picture “Cheers” but on a college level.

After 2005, it was Cheers to me. Everyone knew my name!

But seriously, as often as not, someone I knew would already be there whenever I went there to eat. My fraternity, en masse, ate there after all our major functions. We had one of our 15th Anniversary Reunion activities there for crying out loud. They are locally owned and are part of the community. Players introduced me to Live Oak’s Big Bark, which led to my discovery of local breweries. I wouldn’t be a member of Black Star Co-Op if Players didn’t open my mind to local options that you’ll never see with a Super Bowl ad.

In the end, it truly doesn’t matter. It’s just a burger place. It’s part of the drumbeat of progress. But what do we lose? What would campus be like if the bar at 21st and Speedway held firm? On that ground now stands the PCL, the main library. Yes, north of campus there are burger/beer joints. There’s one further up on Guadalupe. What do we lose when everything in socially-acceptable walking distance to the majority of on-campus students is a chain establishment?

Austin is the big city that still wants to be a small town. Sometimes, that’s bad. Look at our transportation/transit situation if you need evidence. That small town vibe, though, is what makes small towns unique and why half of the planet loves Austin. Austin can’t keep blinders on—as we’ve done with transportation—but we can’t afford to make everything between UT and the Capitol sterile.

No one ever says when visiting Austin “I can’t wait to eat at the MLK McDonalds! Brings back all these memories!”





5 responses to “Here and No Further

  1. Gabe Hernandez Avatar

    A lot has changed since 2005. And in those 7 years, revolutions don’t begin from websites, they begin on Facebook. Saving Players isn’t exactly overthrowing a government, but it is a worthy cause. Petitions don’t mean what they used. Instead, people need to be on Facebook, talking about Players, liking their Page in support and promising to enjoy a Players meal via events set up on Facebook. The tools are there, centered around people. This time, Save Players with web 2.0. 

    1. Brandon Kraft Avatar

      Facebook is one tool of many. The audience of any effort is the Board of Regents and a generation that aren’t typically plugged into Facebook or Twitter. 

      While we’re using Facebook and Twitter, additionally, to put it bluntly, I don’t want to put all our baskets into using a proprietary system that could change at a company’s whim.

      I’ll get fb integration onto the site, just haven’t yet. The original effort was partly on Facebook too (that original group was deleted at some point when Facebook discontinued the original Groups).

      All platforms must be used–web, Facebook, Twitter, offline mediums. The beauty of the current technologies is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. They all work together nicely.

      1. Gabe Hernandez Avatar

         Womp womp. It’s not about broadcasting a message, it is about centralizing and coordinating it. Groups just changed because what people used Groups for in the old days is now what Pages are for. The evolution of Groups is so there is a closed network within. You’ve essentially said that what worked for Egypt (started by a Google employee, no less) cannot work for Players.

        1. Brandon Kraft Avatar

          While they’re different efforts and one size doesn’t fit all, I never said it could not work for Players. I’m not in head over heels in love with Facebook and don’t want to use it as the sole outlet. I don’t need to explain all of my reasons why.

          I appreciate that, working for Facebook, you have different opinions on this. I’m still utilizing it.

          Out of curiosity, why did you comment here on the site and not on Facebook?

        2. Russell Friesenhahn Avatar
          Russell Friesenhahn

          I love how Brandon remains the utmost professional while this random commenter declares a false victory with “womp womp”.  Grow up, learn to actually put forth a decent argument, and declare your FB sycophancy for what it is.

          FB pages are horrible for anything besides a horribly basic landing page.  Look at Whataburger’s FB page at  A large, successful company, but their FB page still, for the most part, looks like everyone else’s… generic.

          Using FB is picking the lowest common denominator.  Anyone can throw up a support / issue / rant / etc page on FB with nothing.  It simply is not legitimate unless backed by a real web presence which Brandon is certainly able to provide.

          A real website gives baby boomers (BB) more pause in evaluating the situation.  For many of them, putting up a real website is still a little bit of magic compared to the button clicking that a FB page needs.  BBs are going to make this decision here, and they are the ones that require the shock and awe campaign.  I’m guessing UT figured Brandon and Michael graduated, they would throw a little more money at Player’s, and this would be done. 

          Also, Gabe, isn’t your job to get people to use FB?  Do you come off this condescending to everyone you’re trying to “help”?  Why not email Kraft privately saying how you think you can *help* him and the Save Player’s movement with some FB integration.  Just sad.  A wasted opportunity.

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