September 10, 2007

Louie’s Reopens for Lunch; Hot Truck Cuts Hours

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Ron Beck, owner of Louie’s Lunch, had been reminded of the irony a little too often over the first two weeks of the semester. Witty students would notice the eatery’s new hours and ask, “Louie’s Lunch isn’t open for lunch?”
“I had lost some help at the beginning of the semester,” Beck said in explaining the cutback of Louie’s hours of operation
As of last Tuesday, though, Louie’s Lunch had already reopened for its normal operating schedule, from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning. And yes, Louie’s is now open for lunch.
The Hot Truck, Louie’s counterpart on West Campus, introduced a similar operating cutback at the start of fall semester. Unlike Beck, however, Hot Truck owner Albert Smith does not feel the need to switch back.
“We’ve had a fantastic growth with Hot Truck over the years, but mainly at the deli,” Smith said.
Hot Truck is open only Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays this year, but has lengthened its hours on those days from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m.
“Hot Truck is available 24/7 at Shortstop Deli,” Smith said. “Students have found Hot Truck at the deli.”
With the increasing popularity of Shortstop, Smith and his wife Cindy decided to cut back on the Hot Truck’s hours of operation. The Hot Truck is still available at its usual West Campus location, but with more Cornell students finding the Hot Truck items at the deli, the need for long hours just was not there.
This year was not the first time Louie’s Lunch has had to start off the semester with atypical hours. Since most of Beck’s employees are students, he is never sure who his employees will be at the beginning of the fall.
“There’s been years where I’ve had 90 percent [of employees] be seniors who leave,” Beck said.
Often, Beck said most of his employees from the previous year will not return to Cornell the next semester. While Beck may at times have to delay opening Louie’s for lunch at the beginning of the fall semester, it never takes him very long to find some Cornellians willing to go to work.
The changed operating schedule at Louie’s has affected many in the North Campus community, where the eatery has become an important staple of campus life.
“I’ve lived on North for four years, and Louie’s is my source for late night food,” said Brandon Mizuno ’08.
Louie’s has a rich history beginning with its original owner Louie Zounakos, who began pushing a food cart from fraternity to fraternity in 1918.
“I’ve owned [Louie’s Lunch] for just over ten years,” Beck said. “It’s good to have the interaction with the students for four years. A lot of students turn into good friends.”
Hot Truck has been a staple on West Campus ever since it was opened in 1960. Smith and his wife have owned it since 2000. Both Hot Truck and Louie’s have made changes since their beginnings on campus, but while hours might get trimmed and management might change, both food enterprises are constants at Cornell that students rely on year after year.