Dobie Mall

Resurrected Games owner Troy Arn specializes in buying and selling movies, video games and playing cards. On weekends, the store organizes card game tournaments inside Dobie Mall for students. 

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

The tables on the upper floor of Dobie Mall fill each weekend with students trading, comparing and playing cards. Whether it’s silently debating strategies or arguing over card rulings, the students are playing to win. 

These weekly tournaments are hosted by Resurrected Games, a shop in Dobie Mall that specializes in buying, selling and trading movies, video games and playing cards.

Resurrected Games owner Troy Arn runs the store along with his fiancé and four children, selling a vast selection of items including memorabilia, key chains and electronics.

“I started from nothing,” Arn said. “I had a garage sale and used the money to get more stuff and resell it, and I eventually had enough stuff for a flea market stand. I just kept buying and reselling until I had enough stuff to open a game store. It just took a lot of time and patience.”

Arn said customers have plenty of options to choose from. 

“We have ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!,’ ‘Magic’ and ‘Pokémon.’ We have action figures, graphic novels and CDs. We have all kinds of stuff,” Arn said. “You could trade a video game here and walk out with movies, or trade in cards and walk out with a new Playstation 4. We fit all the genres of entertainment.”

Particularly, Resurrected Games has grown to become a gathering place for students to play trading card games. According to Arn, the two most popular games are “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Magic: The Gathering.” Both card games involve skill and teach players patience and strategy.

Studio art junior Alexander Chavira is a fan of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and enjoys both the skill involved with the game and the opportunity to bond with other players.

“I’ve made a lot of friends in the game,” Chavira said. “It’s a gateway for more social interaction. For example, just because I play ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!,’ there are people who come over to my house to talk for a while and trade. We sort of identify [ourselves] as a group.”

The store organizes “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments every weekend, allowing players to hone their skills and meet new people who also share a passion for the games. Biology junior Shrineil Patel said that games like “Yu-Gi-Oh!” are great because they are cost-efficient.

“Sometimes you use your brain — sometimes you don’t,” Patel said. “It’s just fun. It’s not really cost intensive, [and the price] is reasonable.”

A pack of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” cards typically costs $3.99 a pack, while a booster box of 24 packs can cost anywhere from $65 to $90. “Magic: The Gathering” costs around $3.95 a pack, with a box of a certain year’s “core set” priced at around $90.

“If you’re spending $1,000 every week on ‘Magic,’ I think that might be a little too much,” Patel said. “You’re free to buy what you want, but you should stay reasonable. Think about your college budget, and try to accommodate it.”

Though he values the social aspect of playing games in a group, Patel said playing “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Magic” is a hobby that he will drop after he graduates. Chavira, however, said there is no foreseeable end to his hobby.

“When school starts, I slow down and put [“Yu-Gi-Oh!”] aside, mostly,” Chavira said. “I always come back to it. As long as my friends are in it, I will be in it.”

Police are searching for Scott Allen Chatagnier, 42, after they say he unnecessarily set off fire alarms at various campus buildings and at Dobie Mall Sept. 10.

According to an affidavit for warrant of arrest and detention issued Sept. 13, Chatagnier pulled 11 fire alarms on campus between 2:08 p.m. and 3:53 p.m Sept. 10. According to the affidavit, he pulled more alarms at Dobie Mall earlier that day.

Police spotted Chatagnier near campus Sept. 12 and recognized him from images captured by UT and Dobie Mall security cameras Sept. 10. After being questioned by multiple officials, Chatagnier said, “I’m not denying it was me,” when shown a still photograph from the Sept. 10 surveillance. Later that day, a cap resembling the one shown in the photograph was found at Chatagnier’s apartment. Authorities have not been able to find Chatagnier since approval of the warrant.

When it comes to dining on The Drag, there are lots of restaurants to choose from but little in the realm of inspired concepts. There are at least two or three frozen yogurt places, coffee shops, sandwich eateries, pizza joints and Mexican, Mediterranean or Asian upstarts apiece in the handful of blocks that make up the western border of campus. Verts, the new kid on the block, fits the bill while maintaining its unique identity.

The first of its kind in Austin, Verts is a cramped, minimalistic, Chipotle-style restaurant that serves up Berlin-inspired street food, doner kebaps — pronounced “doohner k-baps,” on both The Drag and in the Dobie Mall food court.

A close cousin to the gyro, doner kebaps were introduced in Europe by Turkish immigrants. The Berlin-style doner is a sliced pita stuffed with a combination of spiced lamb and beef roasted on a vertical spit and sliced to order, topped with a menagerie of vegetables and sauces for added flavor.

In addition to the doner kebap, Verts offers two other variations of the same meat and veggies — either wrapped in a tortilla or served in a bowl, sans pita or tortilla. After telling the friendly employees behind the counter how you’d like your dish served, you then order which filling you’d like. Their menu offers a choice of beef, chicken, a combination of 90 percent beef and 10 percent lamb, and a vegetarian option.

Moving down the line, you can further customize your order with a salad of sorts to crown your meat selection. Opting for an eyeful of colors, a smattering of red peppers and tomatoes, violet cabbage, lettuce, crisp cucumbers, sweet yellow corn and Verts’ house sauce, a completed sandwich is a visual marvel.

As far as taste is concerned, the fresh vegetables’ mingling with the peppery meat and toasted pita is worth a mention.

However, a doner kebap is not something you can eat neatly. About halfway into the sandwich, the nearly too-thin pita cracks and becomes unstable, causing a doner avalanche onto the unsuspecting surface below. Take extra napkins with you when you order this, ladies and gentlemen. They’re next to the register.

The sandwich is sizeable and filling but not heavy. Verts doesn’t offer sides gratis with the meal. Instead, they have little fruit cups, carrot and celery cups, small bags of chips and chocolate-dipped strawberries, which are also served in a cup. But when your dine-in basket only contains a sandwich, it does leave a little to be desired, like a side of fries... maybe. Depending on your appetite, there may not be room for anything other than the doner anyway.

Verts’ atmosphere is, as mentioned before, minimalistic and modern, playing on a red, white, grey and black theme. The establishment, occupying the same lot that once was Hot Slice Pizza, is cramped, but the wooden wall seating helps accommodate the seemingly insatiable line of patrons that forms at Verts’ counter.

Verts, on this visit, had a disc jockey setting up in the back. An intriguing touch, though unusual.

Any way you slice it, Verts is a welcome addition to the UT restaurant culture and worth a visit or two. 

Printed on Monday, August 29, 2011 as: Berlin-inspired eatery creates sizeable, messy version of gyro.

Editor’s note: The following interviews were conducted in and translated from Spanish.

At first sight, Burrito Factory in Dobie Mall does not seem to be any different from any other traditional Tex-Mex fast-food joint. Juan Perez, however, points out one major difference.

“Here, everything is 100-percent Mexican, even the cooks,” Juan said.

Juan and his brother, Burrito Factory owner Jose Luis Perez, are natives of Mexico — and until a few years ago, they were undocumented workers living in the United States.

Jose Luis grew up in the ‘70s in Ciudad Hidalgo, a city in Michoacán, Mexico. He woke up at the crack of dawn each day to help his mother make breakfast for the family. Then, before and after school, he would help his father at the family carniceria, or butcher shop.

Those were regular days for Jose Luis back home — days that have not been the same ever since. Mexico in the ’70s was a distinctly different place than it is today, he said.

His brother Juan remembers a time when children could play outside, now only a memory because of the drastic rise in crime.

“It makes you feel sad as a Mexican citizen to see your people fighting amongst themselves,” Jose Luis said.

Their mother died when Jose Luis was 16 and Juan was 10. The two men are now 41 and 35, respectively. After completing elementary and middle school, Jose Luis abandoned education in favor of joining the workforce. Jose Luis was aware of the poor economy of his state, and he knew he had a small chance of finding a good job that would provide for his family and his future.

“Here [in the U.S.], no matter how bad the economy is, one always manages to survive — over there, no,” Jose Luis said. “In Mexico, one has to work a month to buy shoes or a pair of jeans.”

At only 19, driven by thoughts of his family and his future, Jose Luis made a life-threatening gamble: He would look for work in the U.S. Crossing the California border with the help of a coyote — a person who makes a living smuggling immigrants across the border illegally — Jose planned to stay for three years to earn enough money for his family and then go back to Mexico.

When he arrived, Jose Luis went to work illegally for his uncle’s chain of Mexican taquerias in Chicago.
He worked tirelessly in Chicago for five years, saving his wages with the intention of opening a restaurant of his own.

In 1995, he opened Nene’s Tacos and ran it for 10 years. As business began to grow, Juan came, also as an undocumented immigrant, from Ciudad Hidalgo to help his brother.

“More than anything, I wanted to save money to help my family and make a family of my own,” Juan said.
Their hard work paid off.

Six years ago, Jose Luis decided it was time for a change. He moved to Austin and opened Burrito Factory soon after.
With the profits from Burrito Factory and Nene’s Tacos, the brothers bought their own cars and Jose Luis bought his own house. For Jose Luis, the U.S. was home. It kept him safe, and it allowed him to provide for his wife, whom he met when he was a waiter in Chicago, and their two children. He did not think about going back to Mexico, at least not permanently. Juan, however, still yearned for his home country.

As the brothers lived their dreams in the U.S., circumstances in Mexico went from bad to worse as drug cartel-related violence spiked.

“They will find any reason to get money out of you, even if you don’t have a hole to die in,” Juan said.
Back in their hometown of Ciudad Hidalgo, Mayor Jose Luis Avila-Franco was accused of allying with drug cartel La Familia Michoacana, according to Central Noticioso Mexicana.

The reality of Mexico’s situation became personal when one of the brothers’ uncle in Ciudad Hidalgo received a phone call from the cartel, which asked him for money in exchange for sparing his life.

Although their uncle moved to the capital, Morelia, to seek more protection, the brothers were cut off from their family and their country, unable to return for fear of the cartels.

“I told my father I was thinking about going in December, but I was scared,” Jose Luis said. “They think you have money because you have a business in the United States, and then they’ll kidnap you. If you take your kids over there, there’s a danger that they’ll do something to them, too.”

For Juan, the realization was crushing. In essence, the brothers had the American dream: a house, a car and a business. Yet they lacked the most important thing to them — family.

“I feel safe here,” Juan said. “But what Mexican wouldn’t want to go back to his own country? As a Mexican, I feel real bad because Mexico is coming off as bad at a world level.”

For the brothers, all they can do now is wait.

“It’s the irony of life,” Jose Luis said. “When I was in Mexico, I couldn’t come to the United States because I didn’t have papers. Now that I have papers, I can’t go back to Mexico.”
 

Students will have a new alternative for textbook rentals and purchases starting next week. BookHolders, a 10,592-square-foot store, is set to open Nov. 29 in Dobie Mall. The BookHolders on campus is the first Texas store of the Maryland-based chain. In addition to two Maryland locations, BookHolders has two locations in Virginia and one in West Virginia and Florida. BookHolders Marketing Manager Ryna Luckert said the choice to bring the store to Texas is based on the UT community and proximity to students. “The UT community is great,” Luckert said. “We really liked the area and we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity.” Travis Watkins, Dobie Mall leasing agent and 2003 UT graduate, said he enjoys working with Dobie Mall’s location because of his familiarity with the campus and customer base. He said the new store will be convenient for both the company and students. “Its proximity to campus and students will be a huge benefit to the customers,” Watkins said. “We’re one of the only retail centers on the Drag that has a parking garage to accommodate students who live off-campus or are buying a lot of books.” BookHolders will offer free deliveries to local areas during buy periods, online price comparisons, no late fees for rented textbooks and options for students to receive cash in hand when they return books. The store is also accepting applications and is a source for student jobs with flexible hours, Luckert said. Students can participate in an Advantage Program, where BookHolders acts as a service to sell books for the student, and the student has the option to receive a check when the book is sold, Luckert said. “It’s very easy and convenient, and students can be very proactive with what they do with the book,” he said. “They’re very much in control of their book’s destiny so they get the optimal amount of money back.” History freshman Harrison Dromgoole said the options for students to save money and receive textbooks in a timely manner convinced him to visit the store when it opens next week. “BookHolders sounds like they’re doing what they can to help students with the costs of college,” Dromgoole said. “Dobie Mall has a lot of stores in it already; a bookstore would just make it even more convenient.”