ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A local restaurant owner says the University of New Mexico is kicking him out and replacing his business with the national chain, Subway.
“We have no problems at all and then I just received this letter that they don’t need me anymore,” said Owner Tom Khalil.
The letter from UNM’s food service vendor said the Sahara restaurant and the Time Square Deli located in the student union building have to get out.
Khalil, who owns both of the restaurants, told KRQE News 13 the vendor, known as Chartwells, told him replacing his businesses with a national chain like Subway would bring in more cash.
“To make more money. Is money everything now in this life?” said Khalil. “This is mom and pop business. This is not a chain. A chain, somebody is sitting in Chicago somewhere in a high rise building collecting your money.”
The two local eateries have been serving out cuisine to college students for nearly 10 years.
“They mostly treat me like a king. I always come here. I appreciate their service,” said Jason Buckley.
“I’m sad to see them go and I don’t want them to,” said Joshua Jaramillo.
UNM said Chartwells reviews the food selections on campus based on student feedback, traffic and surveys every year. Chartwells then submits its recommendations to a student committee which ultimately makes the changes.
KRQE News 13 asked UNM what the student surveys said about the two restaurants getting the boot. UNM did not have the information available.
“Emotionally it’s very tough on me and my family,” said Khalil.
Khalil said he’s cherishing the few weeks he has left on campus before he has to lay off more than 20 employees and close his on-campus businesses for good.
“There is hope I will survive,” he said.
Times Square Deli and Sahara have to be out by May 22 to make way for the Subway.
Saggio’s also has to leave the SUB next month. A WisePies will be moving in.
Contracts between the food vendor and the restaurants in the SUB are only for 30-days meaning every month a business could get the boot.