Restaurants by Berkeley High Hope to Weather Economic Downturn

Photo: <b>Muna Ayyad</b> waits for customers at the cash register of Fred's Market on University Avenue. The market and deli serves over 30 Berkeley High School students a day.
Connie Chen/Photo
Muna Ayyad waits for customers at the cash register of Fred's Market on University Avenue. The market and deli serves over 30 Berkeley High School students a day.

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Restaurants and Berkeley High

A look inside whether or not restaurants near Berkeley High are losing customers in the recession and also whether or not the students are choosing to eat out less.

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Despite the effects of a faltering economy, a local restaurant owner and Berkeley High School alumnus still keeps the doors open and hot dogs on the grill for Berkeley High students hungry for a bite to eat.

Vincent Trahan, who graduated from Berkeley High in 1971, said local high school students have helped to keep his restaurant, Doggie High--which sits across the street from Berkeley High--alive.

"If I look for total adult business, I probably would have closed the doors a long time ago," he said, "but because of my support from the local high school and students, that's keeping me here."

Trahan said he serves around 200 to 250 students a day and that he has built great relationships with the students that frequent his restaurant.

"I definitely have a customer base," he said. "I get students who come in as freshman and throughout their four years they continue to come here."

Like Doggie High, other Downtown restaurants have noticed an impact from Berkeley High students who are looking to sate their stomachs.

Sam Ayyad, an employee at Fred's Market on 1929 University Avenue, said the market and deli serves over 30 high school students a day.

Ayyad said while the current economy has taken a toll on most businesses, the market has managed to maintain its regular number of customers.

"The economy is hurting everyone right now, but everyone still has to eat," he said.

Berkeley High student John Corbett said he frequents Fred's Market at least once a week for lunch, though he still brings lunch from home on other days to offset the higher cost of eating out.

According to student Max Chervin, the majority of Berkeley High students bring lunch as opposed to eating at nearby restaurants, a possible side effect of the economic recession.

"My family hasn't really been affected by (the economy), but I would assume that more people bring food or buy less expensive food," he said.

Charles Tan, an employee at Rainbow Ranch Cafe on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, said despite support from the Berkeley Police Department, city workers and Berkeley High students, business at the cafe is mediocre.

"We do feel the pressure of the economy," Tan said. "People are spending less money. People usually come four times a week but now maybe only one time a week."

Trahan also said he has noticed a drop in the number of customers at Doggie High.

"With the recession, a lot of the parents don't have the money that they once had, so therefore they have to be very selective of how much money they give to their kids," he said.

Trahan said he lowered prices on some items and offers affordable lunch specials to sustain his business.

Ultimately, Trahan is confident that he can continue to operate his restaurant, in large part due to Berkeley High students.

"(Doggie High is) a Berkeley High School restaurant," he said.


Contact Michael Garcia at [email protected]

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