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Little Willy's says goodbye in RMC

By Ellen Liu     1/10/12 6:00pm

Students walking past Coffeehouse's former space will notice that the Willy's Pub offshoot, Little Willy's, is no longer there. The cafe was shut down over the winter break and will soon be replaced by O'Yeah Cafe, which will serve Chinese cuisine.

Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Student Center Boyd Beckwith said the student management of Willy's Pub decided to stop operating Little Willy's so they could focus on food service in their primary location. Former head bartender Glenn Fiedler added that Little Willy's repeatedly failed to meet its daily sales target of $100 per lunch period.

"Demand just wasn't there because of the limitations, since we could only sell pizzas and premade subs," Fiedler, a Jones College junior, said. "People wanted more options."

Fiedler said Rice's administration let Willy's Pub house Little Willy's in the space vacated by Coffeehouse for a rent-free trial period last semester. However, Willy's Pub would have had to pay rent this semester.

"Because we would be paying what Coffeehouse used to pay, we decided to shut down Little Willy's for the financial benefit of Willy's Pub as a whole," Fiedler said.

Beckwith said that Housing & Dining has renamed the space formerly occupied by Little Willy's "The Owl Cove," and it will feature Chinese food from the externally-owned O'Yeah Café from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday.

"One of the reasons O'Yeah was selected by H&D was that there was already a Rice student organization having lunches delivered from there on a daily basis," Beckwith said.

According to Beckwith, the tentative opening date for the Owl Cove is Tuesday, Jan. 17. It will also be featured at the Student Center Open House during the Spring Involvement Fair on Jan. 19.

"I am excited about the opportunity for more food variety in the Student Center," Beckwith said.

Martel College sophomore Meagan John said Little Willy's had seemed like a good idea, but given its operating hours and food choices, she was not surprised that it had failed.

"Not that many students walk through [the RMC] during lunch," John said. "Maybe if they had opened [Little Willy's] during the afternoon instead, when the serveries aren't open, it would have been better."

Regarding the upcoming O'Yeah Cafe, John said she was not sure how Rice would react to the Chinese food.

"If it tastes good, particularly better than what the servery offers, they might do well," John said. "To better their chances of survival, they should probably be open from lunch through dinner because most undergraduates eat at their colleges."

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