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A sad alumnus

| Tuesday, August 31, 2021

To the editors of the Observer and students of the University of Notre Dame,

I never thought myself the type of person to write to the Observer after I graduated from Notre Dame, but — and allow me to be cliché — desperate times call for the most desperate measures. The rumor mills that churn information from current students, to recent graduates, to those in the “beyond,” has burped up a spicy piece of information regarding the reduction of hours of one of the most hallowed spaces on campus. I speak not of the Basilica, nor the Grotto but of the Taco Bell in the basement of LaFun. I am being completely and utterly serious when I say that Taco Bell (especially its hours post-midnight) is the beating heart of Our Lady’s campus. And if rumors are to be believed, a 5 p.m. closure wouldn’t even give my grandma time to get her ‘dilla fill. If you don’t believe me, let me briefly illustrate just how important Taco Bell has been to campus:

Spring 2004: Notre Dame cancels contract with original LaFun Taco Bell due to student protests regarding concerns of laborers working for parent company Yum! Brands are not being treated decently. (Look at student activism in action!) While the controversy was resolved, the taste left in the mouths of students and administrators was not fire.

Fall 2012: Taco Bell opens on campus in the basement of LaFun, replacing a disused Sbarro, ending the years long Taco Bell shortage for students on campus. This opening coincided with the promotional Doritos Locos Taco — arguably the greatest food item to ever exist. Then …

Fall 2012: Notre Dame Football goes 12-0 and goes on to play in the BCS College Football Championship. Rumors swirl that the loss to Alabama was due to a lack of Crunchwrap Supremes the night before the game.

Fall 2014: Taco Bell Launches a breathtaking breakfast menu and the unimaginably perfect Quesarito. Then ….

Winter 2014: I get accepted to Notre Dame.

I mean, yes, some of the connections are tenuous, but they are also made up. The point being, Taco Bell was my home at Notre Dame. I ate there at 1:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. I stopped there to treat myself after a hard test, or night. I had some of the deepest conversations about God, life, the environment and my role in it, all over Cheesy Gordita Crunches. Taco Bell is a staple of that basement and of late-night food and my Notre Dame experience would not be the same without those precious moments. It isn’t only about me however, so I asked two people I know what the Taco Bell in LaFun meant to them in wake of the hours change. They did not respond to my text, so I can only assume that they were stunned to silence. Two other former ND grads whom I asked to edit this editorial masterpiece were dumbstruck and mentioned the 11 p.m. bean burritos that kept them alive throughout their sophomore year. It is clear to me that no more evidence is needed to see how just important the late-night hours at Taco Bell truly are.

The saddest thing isn’t that there will no longer be a line from LaFun to Zahm on a Saturday night, but that these reduced hours are an omen of what’s to come for my beloved. Taco Bell is going to go the way of Reckers and Burger King — off this mortal coil. First the hours are reduced, then the business is replaced. When Taco Bell inevitably is forced off campus, like some unloved miscreant, I won’t know what to say. I only hope that day never comes, or I would only be able to reminisce about what was and what mediocrity is left in its wake (I’m looking at you Subway). And while I do know that Chick-fil-A is the new golden boy of campus dining and Flex point expenditure, that “chicken little” cannot fill the Baja Blast needs of the faithful.

Live Más,

P.S. As far as I am concerned, there was not a Pizza Hut on Campus. It would have been a cold day in hell if you saw me order cheesy bread.

Daniel Hopkinson

class of 2019

Aug. 30

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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