Bear's Lair Businesses To Compete For Spaces

Photo: A patron of Taqueria El Tacontento, one of the current vendors in the Bear's Lair, enjoys a burrito. The food court's tenants will need to place bids to continue their leases.
Nathan Yan/Staff
A patron of Taqueria El Tacontento, one of the current vendors in the Bear's Lair, enjoys a burrito. The food court's tenants will need to place bids to continue their leases.

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Bear's Lair Restaurants Compete for Space

Reporter Zach Williams speaks with students and Bear's Lair businesses about the upcoming open bidding process.

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Three locally-owned businesses in the Bear's Lair Food Court are set to compete in an open bidding process for their spaces starting in February.

Since last year, the owners of Healthy Heavenly Foods, Taqueria El Tacontento and The Coffee Spot have operated on month-to-month agreements with the ASUC Store Operations Board pending new lease agreements.

All three of the vendors have occupied the spaces for more than 20 years.

The board, which manages the food court, decided in December that lease standards in the court needed to be updated and that they wished to open the bidding process for the spaces.

New requirements include entering into a rent sharing agreement with ASUC, as well as meeting green business requirements, renovating the food court and employing students.

"We have to get what the students want," said ASUC Auxiliary Associate Director Thomas Spivey.

He said these new guidelines were decided upon by students on the store operations board.

A draft of the request for a proposal will be submitted to the board at its monthly meeting tonight.

After the board composes a final request for a proposal, it will go to the Business Contracts Office on campus for legal review. Soliciting for bids shall commence following review and approval from the office.

The process is expected to last until February, said ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul. Currently, any business that meets the new guidelines may submit a bid.

Some students who frequent the food court said preserving independent businesses was important to them.

"I think (businesses in the food court) should be independent," said third-year Arielle Fersht. "They should support local business owners."

Others said that they would like to see improvements at the court to make the businesses more competitive.

"There are cheaper options off-campus," said second-year Matthew Bauer. He said he would like to see both healthier and more affordable options.

Tully's Coffee and local restaurant Brazil Cafe are two of the businesses that have expressed interest in the spaces. Subway has also eagerly pursued a space in the court, Spivey said.

Permaul gave a report on the progress of the board's plan to reinvigorate the food court at last week's ASUC meeting.

"The students on the board felt it was time to see new options for the food court," said Permaul at the meeting. "(The current tenants) would prefer that we simply renegotiate their contracts."

The current owners of Healthy Heavenly Foods, Taqueria El Tacontento and The Coffee Spot have said that they will meet the new requirements and want an extension of their leases.

Coffee Spot owner Haitham Alloun said he was willing to comply with any regulations the board mandated, including more rent and environmentally friendly standards.

But he said he needs further assurance that he will be able to keep the space before he would invest in physical improvements.

"We need something in writing to let us know what we are getting in exchange," said Alloun.

Tonight's board meeting will clarify for the owners the steps they need to take.

"We'll find out exactly what they want," said Taqueria El Tacontento owner Arnoldo Martinez.


Zach Williams covers student government. Contact him at [email protected]

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