Reid Nelson, one of the leaders of SaveTheCactusCafe.org, a grassroots online campaign to keep the legendary UT cafe open, talked to supporters at an Austin restaurant Saturday. (Jacqueline Ingles/KXAN)
Updated: Saturday, 06 Feb 2010, 9:27 PM CST
Published : Saturday, 06 Feb 2010, 6:41 PM CST
Austin, TEXAS (KXAN) - Ever since UT leaders announced they will shut down the Cactus Cafe in the student union due to budget cuts, Austin's music community has revved up a campaign to save the place and efforts are ongoing.
About 100 people, young and old, gathered at Maria's Taco X-Press in South Austin to rally behind UT's Cactus Cafe Saturday afternoon.
"I want to be focused, I want to do everything we can in our power to try and stop this from happening," said Robert Steel, who attended the organizational meeting.
Steel and other supporters are part of a grassroots group organizing online called Save the Cactus Cafe .
"I am willing to make phone calls, get e-mail support groups, phone groups together, we can make a bunch of phone calls," Steel explained.
One Cactus fan with a seat in the legislature said he'll go even farther than that.
"I put down that I will do anything that I can to help save the Cactus Cafe," said Democratic Representative Elliott Naishtat .
Organizers said mobilizing people is good in the short term and are hoping numbers get the university to reconsider.
Long-term, they hope to start fundraising efforts to support the Cactus.
"I think that if we can show that there's a viable way to make the Cactus run in the black and a profitable enterprise that it will benefit the university," said Reid Nelson, a SaveTheCactusCafe.org leader .
The inspiration behind the effort comes from the list of performers who've made the Cactus stage a legendary one.
"It's like breath-taking to know who all has stepped on that stage over all these years and it is being taken away on a whim," Steel said, while reminiscing about the time he has spent at the Cactus.
So far, Nelson said UT has not been receptive to his plan, but he, along with other cafe lovers, are staying positive.
"We'll keep knocking at the door, we intend to keep knocking in many ways," Nelson said.
Nelson told KXAN that the next phase of his organization's effort is getting everyone from this afternoon's meeting into committees to work on the details of how to get the cafe turning a profit for the school.