Student center Anna’s Taqueria not reopening this fall

New vendors in Lobdell Dining expected to open Aug. 28

The Anna’s Taqueria previously located on the first floor of the Stratton Student Center has permanently closed.

Anna’s opened on campus in February 2005 and closed at the student center in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first closed MIT’s campus.

Director of Campus Dining Mark Hayes wrote in an email to The Tech that the management at Anna’s informed MIT that it would not be able to reopen their student center location this fall and could not provide a “firm timeline for resuming operations.”

Betsy Kamio, owner of Anna’s Taqueria, wrote in an email to The Tech that Anna’s was unable to continue running a business in the student center due to challenges relating to the “administration’s new parameters” and challenges with the space.

Kamio added that “MIT has decided” the space “isn’t a great fit for a restaurant” and instead “plans to turn the area into a student lounge.”

Hayes wrote that it is possible that Anna’s may return “at some point in the future,” but MIT will begin discussing “both temporary and permanent alternatives,” including potential non-food service uses, for Anna’s space.

Kamio wrote that “it stings to have to close,” but that the student center location was always Anna’s “top-performing with breakfast sales” and that Anna’s “loved being able to stay open after-hours during finals for late night study snacks.” 

She added that Anna’s would “love to be able to reopen” in the student center “with a reasonable lease and proper space to cook onsite.” In the meantime, Anna’s six other locations will continue to operate as usual.

In addition to Anna’s, Cafe Spice, Shawarma Shack, and Shinkansen Bullet Train — all previously located in Lobdell Food Court on the second floor of the student center — will not reopen in the fall due to their contracts with MIT expiring during the pandemic. 

The three restaurants will be replaced with vendors chosen through MIT’s Commonwealth Kitchen Launchpad and voted on by students in May 2021: Bibim Box, Carolicious, and Las Palmas.

Bibim Box will serve Korean food in a $10.00–13.00 price range, Las Palmas will serve Caribbean-American food in a $11.00–14.00 price range, and Carolicious will serve Venezuelan arepas in $7.50–12.00 price range.

Hayes wrote to The Tech that MIT aims for a “soft opening” of the Lobdell vendors Aug. 28. Students will be able to eat at the retail locations, although table capacity will be reduced and indoor eating guidelines will be enforced.

Additionally, Dunkin’, TechMart, and LaVerde’s are currently open in the student center, with Cambridge Grill expected to open later in the semester.

Update 8/28/21: The opening of the three vendors in Lobdell Dining has been delayed to the week of Sept. 13, according to an email to The Tech from Hayes.