Students, longer lunch lines returning to TCU area

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Sometimes, it’s just a matter of choosing whether to stay or go.

Restaurants in the area often have “lines out the doors,” said 109 resident Samantha Filips.

However, managers at three restaurants—Potbelly, Dutch’s Hamburgers, and McAlister’s Deli—describe how they try to avoid the situation.

A “cool atmosphere with great music four days a week” keeps customers interested when there is a long wait, Potbelly general manager Arthur Espinoza said.

Although seating isn’t normally a problem, there is an “influx of college students at 12:05 p.m. and another from a local high school at 1:15 p.m.,” he said.

Espinoza said even if the line is long, the restaurant’s toasted sandwiches are worth the wait. In addition, Espinoza said they guarantee eight minutes through the line, so even when customers are in a rush, they will be able to satisfy their craving in a short amount of time.

Potbelly often holds fundraising nights for TCU fraternities and sororities that result in long lines, which could be frustrating to locals.

“During fundraiser nights, we ask our locals to be patient and inform them of the great cause the sororities and fraternities are here for and how important it is to give back to the community,” he said.

Espinoza said, most often, locals understand and enjoy the friendly environment and music while they go through the line.

McAlister’s satisfies customers during busy hours by “customer service and genuine hospitality…followed by speed of service,” assistant manager Brandon Kleirbink said.

“Gourmet deli sandwiches, salads, spuds with genuine hospitality, and a great speed of service” is what differentiates McAlister’s from nearby restaurants, he said.  In addition, the atmosphere is family-friendly, which may be appealing to locals.

Elizabeth Lauritzen, a 109 resident, said the restaurant’s popular menu items, such as the southwest griller and French dip, keep customers coming back for more.

Kleirbink said due to McAlister’s small space, there is no room to increase seating.

To avoid long lines, Kleirbink suggests that locals come in before 11:15 a.m. or after 1 p.m.

Dutch’s, known for its burgers and buns, keeps both locals and TCU students interested by ensuring “great quality of food and good customer service,” said owner Kay Greenlee.

While standing in line, Ethan Murray, a frequent Dutch’s customer, said “even when Dutch’s is busy, the line moves rather fast, and the juicy burger is worth the wait.”

Greenlee said lack of seating is not an issue since Dutch’s increased seating in 2011.

If they face a problem, it is “getting out burgers quickly due to demand,” she said. Plus, "You can always enjoy an ice cold beer while you wait."

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