Lower Sproul Businesses Reopen After Changes

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Correction Appended

ASUC commercial spaces in Lower Sproul Plaza have been reinvigorated with the reopening of the Credit Union for Berkeley Students and Naia Lounge this week.

Both businesses have undergone changes since they last did business. Naia Lounge, owned by Gelateria Naia, had been closed for nearly a year before reintroducing itself Monday with supplements to its gelato products. C.U.B.S. meanwhile will reopen today in a new space within the ASUC mall after being closed for renovations during summer vacation.

Naia Lounge previously sought to reopen by forming a partnership with fast food chain Panda Express. The deal ultimately fell through after student opposition persuaded the ASUC Store Operations Board to reject a final contract by a 6-3 vote on May 5.

The preparation of fresh sushi, salads and gelato is expected to carve out a niche among students, said Jimmy Zhang, who manages Naia Lounge.

"There is no fresh-made sushi on campus (elsewhere)," he said. "Our sushi is made in house. ... Business is picking up: People seeing our menu are really impressed."

Meanwhile, workers put the finishing touches on the credit union's new space Thursday afternoon.

Adam Carr, a UC Berkeley senior who works at the credit union, said the move will be more cost-effective and allow the student-run business to make more efficient use of its space.

He said C.U.B.S., which is currently owned by the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union, would be able to add to its current clientele of approximately 2,000 in the coming year. A recent addition of student loans to its services would increase its attractiveness to student customers while student volunteers continue to receive valuable experience running a business, Carr said.

"We get to run our own small business (and) start our own programs and services," he said.

Two commercial spaces in Lower Sproul Plaza formerly occupied by C.U.B.S. and STA Travel remain unoccupied. But ASUC Auxiliary Associate Director Tom Spivey said that efforts to bring in new vendors is in the works.

"We want to fill those spaces up," he said. "The Store Operations Board is looking to generate a (request for proposal) for the two sites soon."

In addition, Tully's Coffee on Upper Sproul Plaza is expected to open for business on Monday.


Correction: Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday's article, "Lower Sproul Businesses Reopen After Changes," incorrectly stated that Tully's Coffee on Upper Sproul Plaza is expected to open today. In fact, the kiosk is expected to open Sept. 8.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Zach E.J. Williams is the assistant university news editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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