Tough times have hit the employees, the lawyers, the defendants and the hangers-on at the Harris County courthouse complex -- the cafeterias have been shut down.
On Monday, people strolled up to get their morning coffee and bagel and found only locked doors. On Tuesday there was a sign asking them to excuse the inconvenience and that -- joy of joys -- more vending machines would be provided to make up the slack.
It's been a boon for the guy who has the pushcart in front of one of the buildings, but otherwise it's been a pain in the ass.
Joe Stinebaker, spokesman for county judge Ed Emmett, tells Hair Balls the company that runs the facilities "abandoned its contractual obligations."
"The head of Kuchenmeister just closed up shop and supposedly told the employees they needed to file for unemployment," he says.
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Commissioners Court has scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday to try and get a substitute company "at least for the short term," he says.
The company that had ran the cafeterias, Kuchenmeister, hadn't exactly provided gourmet cuisine to the courthouse crowd, but it at least was an option that didn't involve (for the general public) having to leave the facility and then wait your way again through the security line.
Stinebaker notes that Kuchenmeister had cut back on its employees so much recently that lines had gotten to be annoyingly long at the cafeterias.
"I think a lot of people had gotten used to going elsewhere or, like me, bringing it from home in a plastic H-E-B sack," he says.