The popular off-campus gathering place, Big E’s, is nearing its last days. The owner, Eric Hamilton, has decided to close his doors after 11 years due to raised rent prices and an offer to be a manager at Starbucks. The eatery is celebrated for prices that usually do not exceed five dollars. Students and members of the Sarasota community are disappointed to lose a place where they could congregate, share a meal, and see the friendly faces of the staff. Big E’s came to be known as a place for discussion, creativity and community.
“Big E’s, probably more than any other spot off-campus, and more than a lot of places on-campus, is a real community space,” third-year Scott Smedley said. “It’s more than a little sad to think of it not being around any more.”
For many people, Big E’s provided an opportunity to meet people they might not have come in contact with before.
“Everyone comes as equals,” alum Dyl Robitaille (’10) said. “You can meet new and old friends.”
Robitaille explained that Big E’s is a place that is accessible from the nearby colleges, open late, and a good place to go when you want wholesome, affordable food.
“It is a home away from home for many of the regulars,” Robitaille said. “The mood is very playful and easy-going, the decor is low key and homey.
Many New College students have had positive experiences with Big E’s. Specifically with its owner Eric Hamilton.
Thesis student Bailey Peterson describes a time when she showed up to Big E’s before it opened, but since she and a friend helped take down chairs with Hamilton, he gave them free quesadillas.
“That was probably the coolest anyone has ever been,” Peterson said. “It’s a bummer that can’t happen anymore.”
“[Big E’s] is the place where I’ve met students from Ringling and other members of the community,” Robitaille said. “So I will no longer have that common ground.”