Metro Diner on Butler campus closed

DANA LEE | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | delee1@butler.edu

Metro Diner, located in the Butler University parking garage on Sunset Avenue, is closed effective March 4. Employees were told in a staff meeting the night of March 3, after the diner closed its doors for what would be the last time.

Around 9 p.m., a truck arrived in front of the restaurant and started to dismantle the Metro Diner sign that hung along the exterior of the garage. The Florida-based company has also closed its Fort Wayne location after less than a year. Neither restaurants are listed on the company’s website.

Crafton Bryant, director of marketing at Metro, sent the following statement to the Collegian:

“This is strictly a business decision and is not a reflection of our team’s dedication to serving the Butler community. We understand that closing our location on Butler’s campus will affect the lives of our team members and we are helping them with this transition including severance packages for those who are not transferring to one of our other nearby locations.”

He did not say how long ago the company knew the Butler location would be closing or why employees were notified so late.

“We found out that today is our last day,” Metro server Addison Baumle said. The Butler senior started working for Metro in September 2017. “I went into work this morning like a normal Sunday morning. That’s it. It’s kind of crazy and I don’t know how to put it into words.”

Employees said there was a staff meeting scheduled after close. None of them knew what it was about. Travis Grappo, director of operations, announced the location was shutting down.

Bruce Arick, Butler vice president of finance and administration, said the school received no notice from Metro.

“We have partnered over the last 12-18 months with Metro to help grow their business, including making several concessions on their lease which were not favorable to Butler,” Arick said. “Having them come in during the dark of night and remove their sign and shut their doors was extremely disappointing.”

Baumle said she had planned to work at Metro until graduate school, which starts in May. Now, she’s not sure where she’s going to work.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Baumle said. “How to pay for rent, utilities and food. It was a shock. How am I going to pay for my life?”

At the meeting, employees listened to their options. They could relocate to nearby locations — the chain has three other restaurants in Indianapolis. They could also choose to receive a two-week severance pay.

As a server, senior Sam Cruz worked 40 hours a week, making $250 to $300. Her salary helped pay for things like tuition, books and rent. For Cruz, not working is not an option.

“I’m paying for university by myself,” Cruz said. “The severance check helps but it doesn’t do it justice now that I’m out of a job.”

Cruz has already applied for jobs at local restaurants. Without a car on campus, transportation is a problem, something she did not have to worry about previously because Metro is so close.

“No one knew,” Vickie Cook, a server at Metro and current senior, said. “I have friends who are figuring out jobs right now. They could’ve been doing this a week ago.”

Junior Savannah Boettcher started working at Metro when the location first opened on campus in January 2017.

“I had tears in my eyes I was so upset,” Boettcher said. “It was kind of shock but I wasn’t even mad. I was sad because Metro has been my home for two years now.”

In December, the breakfast, lunch and dinner joint had shaved an hour off of its opening and closing times over winter break due to the lack of students on campus. Those hours remained, however, after break. In February, Metro posted a sign that said they would be closed from 2-5 p.m. This lasted for a week.

Baumle said she noticed a decline in business based off her tips this year. Before, she would come home with $150-plus on weekends. More recently, she was lucky if she made $110 in tips.

Even so, Metro was always packed on nights where there was a show at Clowes Hall or a Butler basketball game, Boettcher said.

The restaurant was one of two occupants in the parking garage. Scotty’s Dawghouse is the other. The third space belonged to Pita Pit, which closed in June 2017. That space is still vacant. Now, Metro will be as well.

“The staff — we all love each other,” Boettcher said. “We’ve become family. We were there for good and bad days and in the morning before that coffee hits. I think we were just sad to leave each other.”

The Butler Collegian will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

Bon Appetit Management Company, Butler’s incoming food service partner, was saddened to read in the Collegian about the sudden departure of Metro Diner. We encourage all Metro Diner employees to contact us as we are looking for additional members of our transition team. Please reach out to district manager Jason Rose at jason.rose@cafebonappetit.com

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