Small Businesses of Downtown Berkeley
This photo story was inspired by all the independent businesses Downtown. As students at Berkeley High, we eat at many of these places every day, but know little about the people who run them. Dive beneath what we see during the 40 minutes for lunch, and learn the stories behind your favorite restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Marzouk (left) has been working at K’s Cafe for 3 years now along with his close friends and family. In 2020 he hopes that “more costumers come [there] to grow the business, and [to] maybe make another K’s around the area.”
In response to the lunch time rush, K’s Cafe tries to have 3 people on staff at all times, one at the register, another at the expresso machine, and the last making bagels and sandwiches.
A student at Berkeley High enjoys one of the favorites at K’s: an asiago bagel with cream cheese.
K’s Cafe has been in business since 2007.
When asked about the location of the cafe, Marzouk, one of the workers, said that “being next to Berkeley City College and also Berkeley High contributes a lot to business. Whenever school is out it is very slow.”
Owner, Ron Demirdjian, opened Arinells in 1975. There is only one other location in Mission District, San Francisco.
Inspired by his childhood in New York City, Demirdijan chose to decorate his restaurant with a light up scene of King Kong enjoying a slice of pizza, featuring the Statue of Liberty in the background.
The owner of Arinell Pizza “loves Berkeley High.” He says that the students are always well behaved.
E-Z Stop resembles a corner store and a deli, selling a variety of things including candy, hot food, drinks, snacks, and alcohol.
In order to be productive during the rush of students that come during lunch, the workers at Saigon start preparing food at 11. They pre-make their most popular menu items, which are a variety of banh mi sandwiches.
Saigon Express opened downtown 25 years ago, in 1995.
Nuha’s Cafe has been open solely in Downtown Berkeley since 2008.
Nuha’s Cafe, while small, is very popular at Berkeley High. One of the workers, Manny, feels similarly about the students, saying that they’re “so cool.”
Cafe Panini is going to undergo some big changes in 2020. There is a plan in place to remodel, change the walls, floors, artwork, some of the menu, install new ovens, and hopefully produce a larger selection of baked goods, such as pretzels.
There is always a rush to prepare the court yard area of Cafe Panini for students at lunch. However, when it rains, the workers have to get more creative and squeeze everyone indoors. Also, in order to move the line along quicker, a few pizzas are pre-made right before students are released from class.
One of the managers of Cafe Panini, Galen Brodski, opened up about the positives and negatives to being located so close to Berkeley High. He says while “it’s great [to] have a steady stream of loyal customers, unfortunately the downsides are that sometimes the customers aren’t as respectful to the space or each other or even our staff.” He concludes that it is upsetting that students are littering and smoking on the premises.
One of the workers opened up about loving the close proximity to the high school saying “it keeps [things] diverse and different.”
Juice Appeal, a family owned business, has been open downtown for over 10 years.