Hawaiian restaurant in Texas sells out after TikTok about UT Austin 'kicking out' its owners goes viral

Customers flooded a Hawaiian restaurant in Austin, Texas, after a TikTok announcing its permanent closure went viral.

Hawaiian BBQ and poke bowl restaurant Poke Bay will permanently close its doors after five years of business following the University of Texas at Austin’s acquisition of land on Guadalupe Street to expand the school’s campus.

Restaurant owners Paul and Priscilla Song are left with no choice but to close their establishment by the end of this month. The Songs’ emotional journey went viral on TikTok after their daughter, Angelica Song, voiced her frustration and called on people to support her parents in the final weeks of their business.

“Unfortunately, UT Austin bought out the building my parents are tenants at,” Angelica explains in a video uploaded to her TikTok account on May 9. “Essentially, they are just kind of kicking them out and not helping them out with relocation, or a new place.”

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“I mean, technically, UT Austin doesn’t owe my parents anything, but it just sucks that a school that has so much money and resources can’t even help my parents out even a little bit,” she added. “Especially when my parents have catered multiple faculty programs. A lot of the UT Austin faculty members are friends with my parents.”

@_angelicasong help me get on Austin tok! 🥲🥲🥲 Poke Bay in Austin TX @ UT Austin campus #atx #austintx #utaustin ♬ original sound - Angelica Song

Angelica goes on to explain that Poke Bay was so successful that her parents received multiple offers to buy the rights to the restaurant. However, their conversations came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Angelica’s parents were slowly starting to bounce back from the pandemic before the land that houses Poke Bay and four other businesses was purchased by UT Austin in December 2021.

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The university presented its 10-year strategic plan last week to become the “most impactful public research university in the world” with a new campus building on Guadalupe Street among other expansions. The Songs claimed that they have not received compensation or assistance from the university to relocate. They currently have no plans to open another restaurant.

After Angelica’s TikTok went viral, her parents welcomed an influx of customers. Paul and Priscilla also took to TikTok to express their gratitude for the people who came to support their business.

“We weren’t really prepared to be this busy today,” Paul says in a video posted to his daughter’s TikTok account on May 11. “If we made some mistakes or we’ve run out of items that we should have had, we apologize. But all in all, it was very heartwarming. We thank you very much for your support.”

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@_angelicasong Reply to @makenziejasmine PLEASE KEEP THE BUZZ UP until end of may. I hope to give them a proper send off. Pls keep tagging brands and message UT Austin! #atx #pokebayaustin #utaustin ♬ Lazy Sunday - Official Sound Studio

“I cannot believe what you all did for my parents’ restaurant,” Angelica says in another TikTok video uploaded on the same day. “You literally sold them out today. They were so busy that they sold out of everything, and they had to do an hour break to do more prep and cooking.”

@_angelicasong Reply to @luvsarahtonin !! KEEP BOOSTING AND PLS TAG UR FAV BRANDS to work with AAPI talent. I’m going to surprise my parents w a fat check 🤪🤪 #pokebayaustin ♬ original sound - Angelica Song

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In a statement released to Fox 7 Austin, UT Austin addressed the recent “challenges” that have arisen, saying, “As the university continues to find ways to serve our students, provide additional housing options, and advance our educational mission, we acknowledge the challenges created by our growth – especially combined with Austin’s growth.”

“We appreciate the role local businesses have in our campus community, and we will engage them in conversations about other university options for relocation,” the institution added.


Featured Image via @_angelicasong