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Restaurants impact the Sunnyvale community

By Ibrahim Ayub, Alan Rivera and Michael Stavnitser

Staff Writers

Once entering a Sunnyvale restaurant, you see colorful walls with paintings on them. You can smell the food being cooked. You will see employees cooking, taking orders, and smiling.

In this article, you will be reading about the following restaurants: Speedy Tacos, Starbird Chicken, The Cheesesteak Shop and Vitality Bowls. You will also read about how each restaurant established themselves in Sunnyvale and how they impact the local community. Now, why pick these restaurants? The reason is that they are unique, and they are not a franchise.

Just how do the local restaurants affect the community here in Sunnyvale? Well, that was the question that we wanted to find the answer to from the start. How were we able to get the answer to our question? We went to different restaurants, asking them questions about how they established themselves. We also asked them how they affect the community in Sunnyvale.

The first restaurant being profiled was Speedy Tacos. Louis Gutenez, who is the manager and CEO, was the person who was interviewed. He is 22 years old and is the manager of Speedy Tacos, which was established by his father before he was named manager right after finishing De Anza College.

Mr. Gutenez faced a few difficulties when trying to establish his restaurant. One of the problems he faced was financial issues and acquiring permits to build the building. Another problem the restaurant faced was charging for chips and salsa. The reason he charged for chips and salsa was that most of their customers used to take the chips and throw them away. Therefore, charging for the chips and salsa was his solution, and he claims that it worked perfectly. “We charged for chips and salsa, which is one thing the community was like, ‘Wow, why do they charge for chips and salsa?’ That was one thing that made us feel like they didn’t like us,” Mr. Gutenez said.

One thing Speedy Tacos has done for the community so far is host meetings with the City of Sunnyvale for the construction of nearby apartments. “The City of Sunnyvale would come here and host meetings for those apartments,” Mr. Gutenez said.

Next to be profiled was Starbird Chicken. The person who was interviewed was the general manager, Meredith Larios. Before working at the Sunnyvale location, Ms. Larios used to work as a manager at the San Jose Starbird Chicken. The main difficulty Aaron Noveshen, the CEO of Starbird Chicken, faced when trying to establish the location in Sunnyvale were financial issues and acquiring permits to able to build the building. “I have actually been with the company for a year, but, when we did establish this location, one main issue was the permits and the location of the building,” Ms. Larios said.

One event Starbird Chicken has done is host an event where they fed the homeless in San Jose. “For Sunnyvale, no, I did help with [that] at the San Jose location where we brought in all of the homeless and fed them,” Ms. Larios said.

The Cheesesteak Shop was the next restaurant to be profiled. The manager of the facility is Evan Tung. Mr. Tung’s friend is the general manager. He has been in this facility since it had opened four months ago. This is also the 20th Cheesesteak Shop in the Bay Area.

Mr. Tung said it was hard for him to establish the facility due to the fact that this was his first time managing a business. “Because I am the first time owner, there is a lot of things I didn’t know. One of them was how to apply for a permit and how to keep the business running,” Mr. Tung said.

The Cheesesteak Shop hasn’t really supported the community in any way due to the fact that he has been open for around four months. “If people reach out to us and talk to us, we might consider it,” Mr. Tung said.

The last restaurant to be profiled was Vitality Bowls. The person who was willing to speak was not a manager but an employee. The reason the manager did not speak was that at Vitality Bowls there is no manager, but there are people called “elites” – such as the person interviewed, Autumn Spalinger. Elites are people who have been working in the facility for a long time; they are almost like a manager. The location we went to has been around for one year.

It was quite easy for Vitality Bowls to be established in Sunnyvale. The reason for that is because it’s a franchise. “It was really easy for us to establish here because we are a chain,” she said. But one difficulty they did face was the location and permits for the building.

Vitality Bowls have done little events for the community so far, like fundraising for schools. “Yes, one of them was a fundraiser we did at the local schools,” Ms. Spalinger said.

Only one customer was interviewed. He was a customer at Starbird Chicken. His name is David Gonzalez. “Well, I picked this place over others because it is very inviting and the employees are very nice,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

After the interviews with the four local restaurants, it is clear how much the managers and their employees support the community. They contribute in all the ways they can, and they try to help out the community. They positively affect our community by sharing food with people and by fundraising for local schools. Together they try to build a strong community here in Sunnyvale.

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