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Let's 'taco-bout' Cosmic Cantina raising their prices

UNC first-year student and Cosmic Cantina employee Samuel Finlay makes a burrito on Thursday, Mar. 21. Starting Apr. 2, Cosmic will increase its prices by 9% in order to support rising food costs and employee wages.

 Your go-to burrito is going to be a little more expensive, but for a good reason.

On Sunday, Cosmic Cantina placed a sign outside of its door informing customers that its prices would be increasing starting on April 2. 

“In order to pay our beautiful employees competitively and to support rising food costs, we sometimes increase our prices. In this case, we will increase prices by 9 percent,” the sign reads.

Cosmic Cantina, located at 128 East Franklin St., serves burritos, tacos and other Mexican-inspired cuisine. The restaurant is known for being open until 4 a.m. and serving quality food at a reasonable price.

According to the sign, it has been five years since the restaurant last increased its prices, but Assistant Manager Yeshua Sanchez said the change is necessary to keep the prime location and quality of their food.

“We are also on Franklin Street, so the price of rent is going up,” Sanchez said. “Our avocados are expensive, and we have high quality here.”

The sign also stated the price increase closely follows inflation, which has increased nationally over the last five years. 

More businesses in Chapel Hill are supporting a living wage in 2019, and Sanchez said Cosmic Cantina also aims to respect the financial needs of its workers.

“In Chapel Hill it’s very competitive to keep employees,” Sanchez said. “Most people are expecting to get paid higher wages on Franklin Street than in most places.”

UNC first-year Samuel Finlay, an employee at the restaurant, said the price increase could help support workers and allow the restaurant to explore ways to reduce their environmental impact. He also said the restaurant discussed potentially replacing their Styrofoam cups and plastic straws, although nothing has been decided.

Finlay said the restaurant has included workers in the discussion surrounding the price increases. 

Cosmic Cantina has been a source of late-night affordable eats in Chapel Hill since 1999. The restaurant has become a favorite of locals and students alike.

“Honestly the first time I took a bite of one of their burritos, I thought I must be dreaming, it’s that good,” said Adrianne Cleven, a UNC junior studying journalism and religious studies. 

Cleven said she visits Cosmic Cantina multiple times a week, and that the 9 percent increase would have no impact on her loyalty as a customer.

“The prices are obscenely low already, so a 9 percent increase is nothing to get upset about,” she said. 

Sanchez said he believed customers would not shy away from the price increases, and many had expected the change to happen eventually.

“I’ve spoken to multiple of our customers, and I think just about everyone thinks it’s fair and it’s about time,” Sanchez said. "Everyone's used to seeing really high, great quality customer service, and we have extremely low prices."

The sign on the door reiterates Sanchez’s hope for continued patronage.

“We hope our food, service, and quality merit continued loyalty and we definitely appreciate all the support we receive from our lovely customer community," the sign said.


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