By Jennifer Waters | The Gainesville Sun
Burrito Brothers Taco Co. General Manager Lauren Stucki returned to the restaurant to work after she graduated from law school at the University of Wisconsin.
"What I learned in law school was that I definitely didn't want to be a lawyer," Stucki, 30, said.
Now, "I like what I do. … It's just a nice lifestyle."
The general manager, who is also a University of Florida graduate, hadn't been away from the restaurant for three straight years. Stucki said she worked at Burrito Brothers during her breaks from law school.
Similarly, many former employees return to work guest shifts during football games, according to owners Randy and Janet Akerson.
On game days, "It's a blast. Everybody's just happy," Janet said.
Burrito Brothers, which opened 35 years ago, moved from 13th Street to its current location behind the former Presbyterian Student Center on University Avenue in 2006. With a competitor nearby and no signage on University, the restaurant features window ordering and outdoor seating.
The menu includes a variety of burritos and enchiladas that range from around $4 to $6 each. Dinners, which include a burrito, a taco, rice or chips and a drink, cost around $10.
Randy said many students have relied heavily on the restaurant's food during their time at UF.
"We were always willing to keep our prices as low as we could. No matter how limited your budget became, you could still afford Burrito Brothers when you couldn't afford much else," he said.
"When you build loyalty like that, that's the only way to get positive word-of-mouth."
Burrito Brothers is now serving a second generation of UF students, Janet said.
But all the restaurant's customers are likely to see big changes coming as the property will be redeveloped in a project called U14.
The new owner, Meir Zuchman, bought the property from the Synod of South Atlantic Presbyterian Church in January.
The plans for U14 — which are scheduled to be completed by summer 2014 — include seven additional suites for restaurants and a rooftop deck.
Randy hopes U14 will result in Burrito Brothers finally being able to serve beer.
Janet said the project will make for more competition, "but there'll also be more people coming over here."
And to compete with the new restaurants, Randy said, "I've got to make better food, which I believe I do."
Burrito Brothers aims to make the highest quality of food, Randy said, so on days when the avocados aren't perfectly ripe, for instance, the staff doesn't make guacamole, one of their best sellers.
Randy and Janet own the business with Eric Dany, who originally bought what was then called Key West Taco with a friend. The men changed the name to Burrito Brothers, after the country rock band The Flying Burrito Brothers. But after a year or so, the friends sold most of the business to Randy and Janet.
Currently, Janet serves as the restaurant's bookkeeper and works full-time as administrative director for the Florida Trail Association. Randy keeps an eye on the restaurant, but the couple relies on their managers to run the business.
"It pays off to trust (the employees). It really does," Janet said.
"I'm proud of the kids that we see at various social functions that come and tell you how much it meant to work here," Janet said.
"(It's) really nice to have people feel that way about you."