Students Mourn the Loss of Gainesville Gems

After months of anticipation, many University of Florida students have returned to campus, but unfortunately, some of their favorite restaurants have since departed. In particular, the Gainesville area lost frequented locations like Larry’s Giant Subs and The Swamp Restaurant. In November, Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria will also be joining that list. 

Camille Eyman, a 19-year-old exploratory sophomore looking to study data science, has lived in Gainesville her entire life. Even before COVID-19 sent students home in March, locals have noticed a lot of change in the area, especially in terms of its dining options, for the past five to six years, Eyman said.  

“I think that the restaurants are something that, if you ask Gainesville locals, make Gainesville Gainesville aside from the university,” she said. 

For many people, The Swamp Restaurant was one of those places Eyman described. First opening in 1994, The Swamp has since become a well-known Gainesville attraction and a beloved student hangout. Despite its popularity, the Swamp announced its closure through an Instagram post in June. 

“After many failed attempts to negotiate with our current landlord, The Swamp Restaurant will be closing our doors on Tuesday June 30th, 2020,” the post said. 

According to the announcement, The Swamp will be replaced by an apartment complex; however, the statement described plans for the acclaimed site to reopen in 18 months. The Swamp will be found on the same corner adjacent to Midtown when it reopens. 

David Vick Jr., a 19-year-old electrical engineering sophomore, described going to The Swamp at least seven times last year. When his friends were in town, Vick said he made a point to take them to the Gainesville gem. 

“I mean, if anybody were to ask for a local restaurant that would just scream Florida Gators or just UF in general,” Vick said,  “I think that restaurant did it.” 

On Sept. 2, Gainesville residents received another shock when Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria posted to their Instagram informing the restaurant’s followers of its approaching closing. As the post states, Felipe’s will be open to the Gainesville community until Nov. 1. 

“Rather than stew over what could have gone differently, we would rather focus on the great memories we have made while here,” the caption said. 

For Eyman, Felipe’s served as an after-school hangout. 

“It was kind of on the way back to my house, so it was a place my friends and I would go a lot after school,” she said. “I went there a pretty good amount of times; the food was great.” 

Although Felipe’s time in Gainesville is coming to a close, the franchise’s website describes where their dining locations can be found in other parts of Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and Massachusetts.