Partial indoor seats to return to Cesar Chavez Center – Golden Gate Xpress


Nizario’s once popular pizza at the Cesar Chavez Center has left owner Abdul Awadalla’s pockets as empty as the establishment, having handed out around 2,000 free pies in the first five days of school to attract hungry stomachs.

Despite all the dough, Awadalla found himself seriously considering shutting down two months into the semester.

In normal semesters, Awadalla said Fridays were Nizario’s slowest days, as people often left campus before the weekend. Now Awadalla said they are getting a fraction of the sales. “We were hoping that every day would be like a Friday, which is about half a normal day, but it didn’t even come close to that,” Awadalla said.

Although he accepted the inevitability of losing money, he was not ready to bow out, due to the effects of the pandemic.

Despite initial doubts, Nizario’s Pizza is one of the vendors on campus that will maintain the return to indoor dining, which is slated for October 4. bring, keep these businesses afloat.

Andrew Lok, the director of business and retail services at UCORP – the organization that oversees all vendors on campus – said he would prioritize the place level in the initial phase of this plan with limited places, full capacity being the ultimate goal.

The restaurateur first announced that he would close the doors of Nizario’s on September 30, unless there was a drastic change in sales. With a grim forecast for such a prospect and a location tucked away in a corner hidden from the immediate view of students according to Nizario, the decision to shut down remained steadfast until Friday, when Awadalla told Xpress that he had changed positions. opinion.

Awadalla also owns Crave Subs – a sandwich shop next to Nizario’s Pizza – which has not reopened due to its uncertainty over student attendance and lost profit. He plans to reopen Crave Subs next semester.

This same sense of uncertainty that Awadalla feels is a common sentiment among many business owners on campus after being hit by health restrictions in 2020 in combination with other factors on campus.

“I feel like we’re seeing most of the world or most of the United States reopening, but it seems CSU systems have been too slow to reopen and restart things,” Awadalla said. .

The State of SF is proceeding with its gradual return as specified by the mandates of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, which said on its website that as of March 16, 2020, the ban on large gatherings has been repealed.

Closely following all SFDPH safety guidelines, UCORP creates a plan for all vendors on campus to provide a gradual return to indoor seating for restaurants that choose to open for the fall. 2021.

“There seems to be support around the program,” Lok said. “It’s just about making sure that all the logistics can be managed in such a way that it can be delivered in a safe environment, and that’s sort of the main determining factor for its implementation. “

He was unable to provide details of the plan, as it is still under development, but said all indoor rest areas will require physical proof of vaccination upon entry.

One of the businesses found at this level of place is Girasol Taqueria – the only Latino-owned business on campus that, like Nizario’s Pizza, has decided to open on the first day of the semester.

Andrew Lok and other university staff discuss the layout of the added indoor seating on September 29, 2021. Lok works for the CORP entity which oversees all vendors on campus. (Amaya Edwards / Golden Gate Xpress) (Amaya Edwards) (Amaya Edwards)

“I didn’t know what to expect. They had told us that there would be around 20-30% returning students, and it doesn’t look like it, ”said owner Marco Ballesteros of his expectations for the reopening. “Not being able to eat inside the building has definitely stopped students’ interest in coming for a bite to eat at any restaurant on campus.

For Ballesteros, the plan currently in the works sounds like a hopeful attempt to remedy the situation all homeowners have faced and hope for its effect. Girasol, which previously employed 17 people, now has only seven, he said.

Ballesteros also reported that its sales were around 15-20% compared to before the pandemic.
“I hope the meals inside work for the university and for us and for people to come back, and I say that for all businesses because if one supplier suffers, we all suffer,” Ballesteros said.

Ryan Acebay, a sophomore graduate student who works as a principal at Rack-N-Cue, expressed guilt for what he had to do due to the lack of seats inside.

“It’s natural for people to want to come in here with food or drink, we’re next to a food court and I kind of have to shoo them away, which makes me so uncomfortable,” he said. he declared.

In his spare time before the pandemic, Acebay enjoyed having an IPA at SF State campus bar, The Pub, another of the businesses that didn’t open this semester.

In June 2020, Ferras Jweinat turned off the lights on the Pub without knowing it would be the last time in months and to date the owner said he did not have a set date for a return.

The bar owner’s experience resembled Ballesteros to some extent, but mirrored Awadalla’s experience in that the declining student body left little plausibility for survival in the fall semester of 2021. in all commercial aspects.

“If the student body on campus is not higher, I predict that we will be closed for the rest of the year and not be back until spring 2022,” Jweinat said.

Jweinat’s love for the business for 20 years and the great community of SF State gave the owners hope for a reopening on October 4, but they were not enough for him to rekindle the lights and to keep them lit successfully.

“It all comes down to the cost of doing business and there is a significant cost factor that we will have to deal with,” Jweinat said.

In a report released by the National Restaurant Association, data showed that at the end of 2020, there was an overall decrease of $ 240 billion from expected levels in overall restaurant revenues.

This included the shortfall in bars and restaurants, as well as a sharp reduction in spending in restaurant operations in sectors such as accommodation, education, healthcare and retail.

Jweinat has not been able to provide figures regarding the Pub’s monetary loss since its last day of opening, but said he faced unique challenges as they did not offer food items.

For Jweinat, the 13,000 students on campus this semester out of the more than 25,000 total registrants declared by President Lynn Mahoney in the 2021 keynote address have played a powerful and direct role in the financial viability of companies.

Until the physical population on campus recovers, Jweinat does not expect operations at the Pub to be up to normal standards.

The heart and soul of this place is to rediscover this student energy and we miss it and need it.

– Ferras Jweinat

Seeking to make the best decision for the financial stability of his family’s exploitation, Jweinat would like to expect a more viable number of students. He plans to observe the effect of the seats indoors on October 4 before making a decision.

Specifically, Jweinat’s observations on Monday will be to ignore customer flow and business progress for at least the first two weeks as a way to continue making strategic business decisions.

“The heart and soul of this place is to find that student energy again and we miss it and need it,” Jweinat said.

For Graharm Muckenfuss, a 2019 SF State alumnus like Acebay, the bar was a place he went to relax after class and watch games with friends who liked to talk about sports after a long day.

“I am very happy that it is returning to at least some capacity and on a safe date for it to reopen for everyone as it is a nice place to have on campus,” Muckenfuss said.

Even with uncertainty on the horizon, Jweinat does not anticipate a permanent closure of The Pub at SF State. Instead, he’s optimistic about what’s yet to come.

“It’s like knowing the unknown law, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now, but I’m pessimistic and optimistic, as I like to say,” Jweinat said.

Each party involved will review the details of the plan as it unfolds. Membership in the SFPDH will be maintained until further notice.


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