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Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Basketball alum Clyde Drexler returns to campus with barbecue chain


Advertising senior George Bates, middle, checks his phone before ordering at Drexler’s in the Student Center Satellite. Nabil Ahsan/ The Daily Cougar

A piece of Houston history, Drexler’s World Famous Bar-B-Que, joined the lineup at the Student Center Satellite this fall.

“It’s pretty cool that that kind of a local place is here now,” said biology freshman John Falcon, who eats at the Satellite on his way to class. “We have a lot of good barbecue here in Houston all over the place. I eat barbecue all the time at home, so I try not to eat too much of it here, but I’ll need to try it out.”

The original restaurant was founded in 1967 by the uncle of UH alum and NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler. Since then, it was passed down to Clyde’s siblings, James, Virginia and Denice and their mother Eunice.

Clyde Drexler took the University of Houston basketball team to two Final Four appearances alongside teammate and NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. He had an All-Star career with the Portland Trailblazers from 1983 to 1985 after being picked 14th overall in the 1983 NBA draft.

 In 1995 Portland traded him to the Houston Rockets. That year the Rockets won the NBA championship with Drexler and Olajuwon leading the team. Drexler stayed with the squad until he retired from playing and became a coach for the University of Houston basketball team in 1998.

He is now a color commentator for Rockets home games and helps manage Drexler Holdings L.L.C.

Chartwells, UH’s new food service provider, came up with the idea of bringing in the Drexler name while making their bid earlier this year, said District Marketing Manager Abel Valencia.

Chartwells’ bid to replace Aramark, the previous food service provider, was finalized July 1, and it immediately began making changes. Valencia said Chartwells contacted the Drexler family for the rights to use the name on campus, and after negotiations, the two parties made a formal agreement.

Valencia said Chartwells wants to bring in the Drexler name and other notable alumni names and businesses to the campus to strengthen a sense of community and identity.

After the initial discussions and agreement, the Drexler family took a step back, and Valencia said Chartwells now owns and operates the location entirely.

The restaurant originally opened on campus Aug. 21, but damage caused by Hurricane Harvey forced the entire Satellite to closeThough the Satellite partially reopened Sept. 18, Drexler’s was shuttered until Oct. 2.

It is open weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. along with the rest of the eateries in the Satellite, with the exception of Smoothie King and Starbucks, which remain closed.

Valencia also said that Chartwells plans to reopen Smoothie King on the first day of class next spring, and Starbucks is scheduled to return the first week of February.

“I haven’t had any issues eating here this semester,” said accounting graduate student Samantha Mathew. “I think it’s cool to use local places instead (of big chain restaurants) … as long as the food is still good.”

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