Owner Expects to Sell Sather Lane Coffee Shop

Emma Lantos/Staff

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Standing at the entrance to Sather Lane, Sufficient Grounds has been more than a sandwich and coffee shop for many, customers said.

It has been a study spot, a hangout and a supporter of several student groups. But by the end of the month, the shop's owner expects to sell Sufficient Grounds, putting its existence in question.

Anthony Tasoulinh, who has owned the shop for two years, said he is meeting with a potential buyer Friday, but does not know if a deal will go through.

While he said he hopes that any new owner would keep the business intact, he said he could not be sure what kind of business his shop would become.

"I would like it to be Sufficient Grounds and leave it at that," he said. "But the new owner has the freedom to do what they like, what they want."

However, Tasoulinh said he does not expect the new owner will be able to make many significant changes to the business because regulations set by the landlord only allow certain items to be sold on the property.

These strict regulations, along with high rent, have made it difficult to keep the shop afloat, he said.

"My rent is ridiculous for what I'm paying and for what I'm getting," he said. "All the money I should be getting, I don't make enough for me."

Tasoulinh, who has been looking for a buyer for over a year, said he pays about $7,700 a month for the space, which he said would cost about $3,000 to $4,000 a month anywhere else.

In order to stay in business with these challenges, Tasoulinh said he must publicize the shop by handing out coupons and supporting local community service projects and student groups.

According to UC Berkeley junior Theresa Vitale, the shop supports a community project on which she works called What Now America.

She said the shop always donates bread loaves for the lower-income students she tutors and mentors every Saturday as part of the program and is concerned that any change in ownership might affect such students.

"It's so amazing... (The bread) is all completely gratuitous," Vitale said, adding that the plan to sell the shop "is upsetting."

While Tasoulinh says he does get a high amount of foot traffic near the restaurant, he said the people who walk by rarely come inside to purchase food.

Lately, he said his customer base has decreased as the college students who walk by often do not have the money to spend at his shop.

UC Berkeley junior Pauline Tran, who has frequented the shop since she was a freshman, said she may not be able to get the same quality of food if the shop changes owners.

"They have really good sandwiches," Tran said as she waited for her order. "It's a little disappointing."

But as Tasoulinh expects to make his announcement official at the end of month, not all said they would be saddened by the ownership change.

"It's pretty on the expensive side," said UC Berkeley sophomore Ching-ching Liu. "There are a lot of other places around."


Erika Oblea covers local business. Contact her at [email protected]

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