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Inside Hot Luck’s 1980’s-Inspired Food Court

Hot Luck Festival

Mallrats Reminisce

Fair Market was transformed into a 1980s-inspired food court on Friday night as part of this year’s annual Hot Luck festival. We dropped by to sample the not-so-typical food court fare and reminisce about hanging out at the mall before cell phones and social media, back when it was a place to see and be seen.

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Nicole Cruz

Friend serving chicken at Theodore Rex

My friend Justin asked me to work with him at this event, which is inspired by 1980s mall food courts, and he was like, “Why don’t you wear your hot dog costume?” And I was like, “Uh, sure, why not.”

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Chloe Kennedy

General manager at Epicerie

If Prince and Madonna had a baby, it would be me. That’s what I’m embodying today. I’m feeling that ‘80s food court. I was definitely a mall rat. The mall was my go-to spot. That’s where everybody went. I still have photo booth photos all over my fridge. I worked at a mall store for years. We had glass shelves and they broke one time. The glass didn’t get in my eye, but everybody was freaking out and I was wheeled out of the mall in a gurney. So everybody in the mall saw me rolling around on a gurney.

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Zach Almaguer

Cutter at Franklin’s BBQ

I have fond childhood memories of going to the mall. My parents used to drop me off there with my friends and we’d hang out. When Lost World came out, I went to the mall to see it, and the film broke. Me and my friends walked around the mall for a while, and then they fixed it, so we had the whole theater to ourselves on opening day.

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Connor Claver and Sean Wilson

Designers at Guerilla Suit

Sean Wilson: I’ve watched a lot of movies that take place at the mall in the ‘80s, so I have good second-hand knowledge.
Connor Claver: It’s neon sign, square tiles, women who broke my heart, rollerblading, pizza… I didn’t dress up for the mall. This is my summer look. It’s white socks, white shoes, khakis, and yellow. That’s what it is.
Sean Wilson: I came here in hopes of finding Marty from Back to the Future. That’s why I’m here. If he were going to go to the future, he would be here, so I’m on the lookout.

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Jessica Justin and Sturm Roisom

Best friends who work at Homeaway and Amazon

Sturm: To be honest, I loved me a good food court. We were born in the 80s, so we were more ‘90s mall rats.
Jessica: I was definitely a mall rat, but not in the I-want-to-go-shopping sense. It was more like, let’s play at the arcade. There was an arcade called The Tilt. It was so dark and neon. We won a lot of money there. I swear, it wasn’t maintained. Nobody gave a shit about that place. And the food court, I just loved the Chinese food.
Sturm: Panda Express… We had a Schlotzsky’s, Blimpie, Sbarro. I love Sbarro. Orange Julius was a favorite of mine.
Jessica: Oh, Orange Julius was a staple for sure.
Sturm: I used to work at Hollister when I was younger, so I’d be at the mall all damn day long. You’d get there early, so you’d see all the mall walkers in the morning. I aspired to be one, one day.

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Sarah Bolen

General manager for Austin Motel

I had a crush on this boy at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, so my girlfriends and I would go get pretzels and then we’d go to Bath and Body Works, try all the lotions, and walk past Auntie Anne’s again.

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Aaron and Miki Parra

Servers at Franklin’s BBQ

Aaron: Personally, the mall for me back in the day was like social media. That was your network of connecting with people you didn’t necessarily know. That’s where you went to be seen and see other people.
Miki: I had a crush on a boy from Orange Julius and we used to always make eyes at each other when I worked at Hot Dog on a Stick. It went nowhere, absolutely nowhere.
Aaron: When I was being rebellious and punk rock, I got my first ear piercing at the mall. My left ear was done with a Claire’s piercing gun.

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Zack Flores

Works for Tito’s Vodka

I used to mall walk with my grandpa. It was fantastic. We would show up before the mall even opened. And then he would drop me off at the arcade while he kept doing laps. So the mall is a very special place in my upbringing.

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Miguel Angel

DJ ulovei

I was a mall rat in the ‘90s. I was buying CDs, playing the arcade, walking around pissing off the cops, riding the merry-go-round until the cops kicked us off. I’d walk around the mall with a girl pissing the other girls off.

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Woncho Nguyen

Host of the Hot Pot Podcast and former mall shoplifter

I guess I was kind of a mall rat. I’d go to the arcade and spend my lunch money there. When I was in high school I would steal portable CD players and then I’d sell them for 20 dollars.

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Evan and Melissa Tate

Couple from Rockwall who own a photo booth company

Melissa: I love the mall. I was a mall rat in the ‘80, ‘90s, ‘00s, and I still go to the mall once a week on Tuesday nights. A few years ago when I was trying to figure out my life, my friend and I were like, where can we go that makes us feel young and at home? And it was the mall. That’s when I started going to the mall every week. It’s whatever food I want to eat, it reminds me of being a teenager, I can sit and people watch, and I can buy stuff if I want to, or I can literally just sit and people watch. It’s so comforting.
Evan: I didn’t go to the mall. I was working on a ranch far away from a mall.