Tag Archives: food

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.

The state of school lunches at Summit Shasta is #sad

By Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Writer


Marshmallow Mateys (above) is an off-brand version of Lucky Charms. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

Here at Summit Public School: Shasta, most people I know try to avoid the school lunch. Brunch usually consists of some kind of off-brand cereal. More often than not, it is hard to identify what is being served for lunch. If you start asking around about what people think of the school lunches, you won’t exactly get a positive response. I surveyed over 130 kids (close to one-fourth of the school), and the most common words to describe the school lunches ranged from “okay” to “gross” and “bad.” Some students described it as “cardboard”; others used more creative terms.

The school lunches at Shasta are premade in a facility 20 miles away.


Food is pre-packaged and stored in a heater. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

The lunches arrive at Shasta every morning. The food is stored in our small kitchen and is watched over by Catherine Quan. Ms. Quan has no official job title, but she helps prepare and serve the food. She explained to me that the food is kept in an industrial fridge and two heaters. The fresh fruits are kept in bins on shelves near the entrance. However, there is a lack of actual kitchen materials. None of the food has to be cooked; there are no trays or plates to wash, and the room is more like a holding space for the pre-packaged meals.

How Shasta gets food

Shasta’s current food supplier is a San Carlos-based company called Lunchmaster. One look at the Lunchmaster website, and a consumer would see no problems. The LunchMaster site offers glowing photos of food, proclaiming that none of the foods they make is fried. More than 80 percent of the food is local. “We make fruits and vegetables appetizing for children,” one section reads.

Lunchmaster markets itself as a family-owned business. According to its website, its two “taste-testers”  are the general manager’s kids. The two founders are a wife / husband duo. Lunchmaster also employs two registered dietitians. All meals meet federal and state regulations and are “balanced meals” made “from scratch.” The company touts itself as healthy, tasty and down-to-earth.

In contrast, the student sentiment at Shasta tells a different story. 75 percent of students polled said that they weren’t satisfied with the current school lunches, the ones provided by Lunchmaster. Only 28 percent said they considered the school lunch to be healthy. Many described it as “processed” and “greasy,” even though the Lunchmaster website states that none of their food is fried (“Even our french fries are oven-baked!”).


Shasta gets monthly menus from Lunchmaster. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

I interviewed Maria Canjura, the office manager at Shasta. She said that Summit Public Schools’ corporate branch makes the decisions on what supplier Shasta has. Summit has a contract with Lunchmaster and gets monthly menus from which they pick out the meals. All Summit schools in the Bay Area are supplied by Lunchmaster.

She thinks that the meals are healthy and that Lunchmaster tries to include healthy meals. As for why the kids don’t like eating the food, Ms. Canjura said: “You would have to ask the kids […] I would love to know why.”

What do kids think?

Well, according to the kids, the food just tastes bad. Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui buys school lunch every day and describes the meals sarcastically as “flavortown.” He said that he would like better quality food and bigger portions.

Another Shasta sophomore, Ethan Tran, said he doesn’t mind the portions, but he does want better quality. He would also like “less plastic packaging.” “They could be worse, but they could be a lot better,” Shasta sophomore Joseph Hernandez said. I asked students to rate the food out of 5, and 91.8 percent of those surveyed rated the food a 3 or less. Only three people (2.5 percent) gave the food a 5.


Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui sarcastically refers to the food as “flavortown.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo


Shasta sophomore Shawn House says that the food is simply “not good.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo












As for what the teachers think, I also interviewed Laura Friday, the freshman English teacher. She said that health is the main problem for her: “The school tries to provide healthy options […] some students don’t accept the healthy foods.”

However, she does agree that “certain meals look better than others,” and she gets the sense that the food isn’t “particularly appetizing.” She thinks that the school is trying their best to make sure that all students get fed while also maintaining a budget. “We have to make compromises,” Ms. Friday said. “This is a national issue.”

Improving lunch by looking across the globe

School lunches are a national issue. Almost every other developed and wealthy country has better school lunches than America. In fact, only Canada, a country that seemingly passes the United States in every way, has worse school lunches. They ranked 37th out 41 in a UNICEF Report on access to nutritious food for kids, right below–that’s right–the good ol’ US of A.

In order to improve, we can look to international cases of great school lunches. France takes their school lunches especially seriously. At one high school, 850 students are fed every day for only $2.50 per meal. The chef that runs the kitchen feeds the students escargot and roast beef. A student described the food as “better than what I get at home.”

Another example we can look to is Japan. Only 5 percent of food is wasted in a school district in Northern Tokyo. Japan’s childhood obesity rate is one of the world’s lowest. So how does Japan do this? According to a Washington Post article, food is never frozen and its school lunches are “a source of national pride.” In Japan, meals are made from scratch.

Image result for japanese school lunch

This is an example of a typical Japanese school lunch. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

School lunches in Japan usually consist of rice, vegetables, fish, or soups, quite unlike here in America, where us Shasta students have to deal with mysterious meat or cardboard. Plus, while there still is unhealthy food being served, it is in seriously limited amounts. “On a recent day at Umejima,” the article reads, “kids were served the Japanese version of fried chicken, known as karaage. Each child was allowed one nugget.” Japan’s government provides some minimal guidelines, but the task of regulating health mainly falls to the school nutritionist. That’s right–most schools in Japan have nutritionists. As for cost, it is all managed by local municipalities, while parents pay for ingredients. The cost for parents is $3 per meal, and they even have lesser payment choices for struggling families. So school lunches can be tasty, healthy and affordable.

Of course, we don’t live in Japan or France, we live in America. But contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of schools in the United States that provide healthy and tasty school lunches. Unfortunately, here at Shasta, kids still try to avoid the school lunch. Students eat better food at home, not at school. Kids at Shasta have inside jokes about how bad the food is. Suffice to say, the majority of the student body here at Shasta does not take “national pride” in our school lunches. But we can always change things.

The students surveyed had plenty of ideas on how to change things: letting some clubs cook and sell food, not having premade food, including more choices, getting more substantial meals and picking a better supplier. While there are definitely challenges in trying to implement these changes, something is better than nothing. According to the students, the school lunches are a whole load of nothing.  


Students sample and review local cuisine

By Sanam Daoudi and Jasmin Mendoza

Staff Writers

We went to various food establishments at Westfield Oakridge Mall in San Jose to try different foods and review restaurants. The distinct factors in our ratings were the flavor of the cuisine and the quality of customer service.

On the first day, we ordered a cheeseburger and an oreo milkshake from Smashburger. We also purchased samosas from Curry Roots, an Indian restaurant. After tasting the food, we rated Smashburger as 3 out of 5 stars and Curry Roots as 4 out of 5 stars. We interviewed employees of the restaurants about their opinions on the food and the overall quality of their workplace.

At each restaurant, we asked an employee:

  1. Have you tried the food here?
  2. What would you rate the food here on a scale from 1-10? (1 being the worst, 10 being the best)
  3. What do you think should be improved?

The Smashburger employee said she had sampled the food there and rated it a 9 or 10 out of 10. She also mentioned that customer service at the establishment could be improved.

We surveyed a Curry Roots employee in the same way. He told us that he thought the food was a 7 out of 10 and that his personal belief was that the food quality could be improved by reducing the amount of preservatives used.

On the second day, we went to Charleys Philly Steaks and Good Karma. We rated Charleys Philly Steaks as a 4 out of 5. An employee said the food was a 5 out of 10 and the quality of the food depended on the chef. He also mentioned that the other employees did their best, but with the type of food served and the overall menu, there was not a lot of space for making large improvements.

The second interview was done at Good Karma, where the food was rated as a 5 out of 5. A staff member said that the food at the restaurant was good but that the amount of space in the kitchen could be improved.

We chose to do this project to see how our reviews would compare to opinions of restaurant employees. We asked for specific number ratings because we thought it would be the best way to properly gauge the difference between customer and employee reviews of the same restaurants.

We decided that, while there were some outliers in the data, our ratings were close to restaurant staff’s opinions.

See below for the full review:

Wellness and Movement helps Summit Tahoma stay healthy

By Will Butler

Staff Writer

Now, more than ever, students of all ages are eating unhealthy diets, and that has caused an obesity epidemic in America.  A new course at Summit Tahoma, which was introduced during the second round of Expeditions, is Wellness and Movement, taught by Danielle Redlin. The course is focused on teaching good eating habits, learning about certain food health benefits and doing daily exercise.


Wellness and Movement students practice yoga. 

On the second day, students watched a Netflix documentary called “Forks Over Knives” about the food industry, how it pollutes the earth and how much it affects animals.

In addition to learning about healthy eating, students also completed yoga practices.


Danielle Redlin leads the students through yoga. 

Ms. Redlin said, “We usually start out the class with either starting or working on a unit – health-related – and then we do movement, whether it is yoga, Pilates, or a cardio workout.”

She said her goal by the end of Expeditions is that students “have a better perspective and understanding of how to be a healthy human being.”

As the obesity epidemic in America continues, Ms. Redlin feels it is important to teach students to eat healthy and to learn about what they are eating. She explained, “There needs to be an overall heavy focus on health and movement in all high schools, especially since kids at this age are starting to get more responsibilities for cooking and eating on their own; but, a lot of times, I don’t feel like they have enough support in making the best decisions for their health because they haven’t been taught a lot of times what is healthy and what is not healthy.”


Tahoma sophomore Derick Ibarra

Tahoma sophomore Derick Ibarra said the most important thing he has learned from the class was “E-coli, because it was a very bad disease, and a lot of kids were affected by it from eating a lot of hamburgers and a lot of processed products.”


Tahoma sophomore Jasdeep Sing said his favorite part of class is yoga. “[It] helps me get energized for the rest of the day,” Sing explained. He added that the most important thing he has learned is that “to lose weight you don’t have to eat pills or do all of the other extra stuff – just eat whole foods, plain and simple.”



Wellness and Movement students continue their yoga practice.



Sing said Summit Tahoma should add some sort of healthy eating information to the curriculum because there is currently an obesity epidemic in America. “People eat a lot of junk food and don’t know the outcome of them eating it,” he said. “So they need to be informed and change all [these] bad eating habits.”

The Wellness and Movement course has a lot more to offer than just simple eating tips and exercises. While it can help students learn about foods and teach them what is healthy and not healthy to eat, it can also help them live a healthier, happier life.


Fast food affects the youth in our community

By Daniel Contreras, Philippe De Jesus and Angel Flores

Staff Writers 

The smell of sizzling chicken was delightful when customers walked through the doors of El Pollo Loco. The sight of the food looked lovely because of all the healthy options that you could choose.

The fast food industry impacts the youth in our community by providing a convenient source of food and educational opportunities. This helps adolescents whose parents aren’t always home to cook. It also helps students who work at fast food restaurants through the programs the restaurant have in place to help their education.

“Well, in this country, it’s a lot of support because, since people are working, it is easy for them after work to get food. At least with us, that is healthier to make their lives easier,” Elizabeth Chavez, manager of El Pollo Loco located at South White Road San Jose, said (her answers have been translated from Spanish).

Ms. Chavez added that it’s easier to eat out than to eat at home when parents are working. “They have the ease of in any corner they find a restaurant, and they are more influenced to eat out rather than eating at home, or for them to learn how to prepare food,” she said.

Ms. Chavez said that working in the food industry helps build leadership. “In times when they come in as cashiers or in lobby you can team them to move up in positions because there are different responsibilities,” she said.

“They are learning different functions, and they notice that they have the capacity to move up in position; they could get to become crew leaders. There have been students that made it to supervisors because of what they have learned at school and applied it to work,” Ms. Chavez said.

Ms. Chavez added that every job has responsibilities and that you should work to your best extent because it’s based on your future. “They learn how to be on time, responsible, work with others, and they could learn things they have never done before,” she said.

Ms. Chavez said that they have a program that gives back to the community.  “I forgot what is it called, but you have options. It’s like a type of foundation where you can come once a week in a period of four hours and they return 20 percent of your contribution to schools, churches, community groups, etc.,” she said. “We also offer part-time jobs for students in the schools around us.”

“We have a mission to provide good service, a good meal, and a good working community. At the same time the community benefits as well because they see we have great people working here, so that makes them happy,” Ms. Chavez said.

The manager of Subway located at Story Road San Jose, Elvia Medano, also shared her opinion on how the food industry helps the community. Ms. Medano explained how working in the food industry can help benefit students.


Manager of Subway Elvia Medano

“We adjust to their schedules; we don’t obstruct their school’s hours or testing or homework time,” Ms. Medano said (her answers have been translated from Spanish). “Many food industries have scholarships for students that help them choose a better college or donate money to their schools.”

Ms. Medano then explained how the health of the customers are influenced when they eat at Subway and how convenient fast food restaurants are.

Ms. Medano explained how parents are not always home to cook food. “They go to fast food restaurants to get something fast and that helps them,” she said.

Ms. Medano explained that people who ordered their food usually picked the unhealthy choices. “I’m not saying that the food here is unhealthy, but some of the contents like salami and pastrami are unhealthy and people consume a lot of that,” she said.

Yet, Ms. Medano said that they have a lot of healthy choices to pick from on the menu. “We have a variety of healthy food,” she said.

Television also plays a large role in what teenagers eat. According to Chron, TV is a large source of food ads for adolescents. “There is a strong connection between teens’ eating habits and fast food commercials. In a study of more than 12,000 teenagers to investigate the effects of fast food advertising on teenagers, teens who spent more than two hours watching commercial TV were likely to indulge in eating unhealthy foods like fast foods, sugary drinks and snacks than those who did not. Results from the study also indicated that fast food ads on the Internet led to increased consumption of the foods.”

This is troubling because children who view more fast food ads are more at risk of being overweight than those who do not. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, In a survey of 3,342 youths aged between 15 and 23 researchers found that a higher percentage of obese and overweight participants identified with fast food ads.”  

The next time you eat at fast food places such as El Pollo Loco or Subway, try choosing the healthier choices. Also working at fast food places is not a bad idea because it may help you succeed in the future and build up your skills.

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Elizabeth Chavez, manager of El Pollo Loco






Students review local hamburger restaurants

By Jon Aguilar, Steven Poltorak and Isaac Sanchez

Staff Writers  

At first glance, burger restaurants might seem like a big jumble; but on further inspection, you can see customers conversing with each other and eating the praised food that everybody has been talking about. At all such places, there are smiles on the people’s faces, and their laughs fill the air.

Upon entering, the smell of different flavors and aromas fill your nostrils. Your nose is filled with the smell of fries, burgers and sweet milkshakes. All of these smells combined together make your mouth water as you decide what food to get.

In addition to the smells, you hear the constant sound of conversations among customers in the building, the sound of orders being called, orders being made and chatter about the food. In the background, you can hear the sizzling of the hamburgers and the fries in oil.

In a matter of minutes, the moment you have been waiting for comes.

Your order has been called. You grab your food and find a place to seat. As you take the first bite of your juicy burger, the experience is so profoundly awesome. The flavors begin to burst into your mouth as you eat the burger. Then you take a bite of the fries and a sip of your milkshake. All of these experiences make a burger restaurant so special.

When people go to restaurants to eat, they don’t just pick a random restaurant, they take time to find one that meets their preferences. People choose to eat at specific restaurants because they are attracted to the taste, the quality and the type of food served there. It all depends on the type of person and what kind of food they prefer to eat.

Particularly in Redwood City, there are some very popular restaurants that get a lot of attention on the internet and around town. Have you ever wondered why these restaurants get so much attention? Well, we decided to find out.

As a group, we wanted to find out why these restaurants get so much attention. We began digging deeper into the why, finding out along the way that we needed to make our research more attainable and specific. We needed to focus on a certain type of restaurant and a type of food. After brainstorming for some time, we came to a consensus to focus on hamburger restaurants. We were trying to figure out why burger restaurants have become so popular in our community. We were hoping to find out which one is the best.

With this in mind, we set out on a mission to visit three of the most popular burger restaurants in Redwood City.  We were trying to see the specific reasons why people preferred one restaurant over another and what made each restaurant special.  

The restaurants that we went to included Five Guys, In-N-Out and the Habit.

At these restaurants, we interviewed customers who had just eaten the food. We asked them a few questions, in order to identify why people prefer that restaurant. The four questions that we asked were:

  1. What do you like about the hamburgers from here?
  2. How would you rate this burger place from 1-5 stars?
  3. Why did you choose this burger place over a different one?
  4. How do you feel after you have eaten from this restaurant?

We asked these questions to help us understand why people like that restaurant and what makes it so popular.

At the first location, Five Guys, we weren’t able to find a customer who wanted to be interviewed because people said they had to get to work. However, we noticed that a lot of people were coming and going from the restaurant.

When we went to In-N-Out, we hit the jackpot. In the interview, we asked the customer the questions listed above.

At the Habit, we interviewed one of our peers from school. He was able to tell us his honest thoughts on how he viewed the Habit to be.  

We did this project because we wanted to see what different aspects of hamburger places people liked. Then we wanted to compare them to each other to see how the food tasted and the differences between each place. We gave our opinion about each burger after we had eaten it, and we could then compare the places based off what we tasted.

We also made judgments around customer satisfaction, along with customer support, to show how it would be to order from one of these establishments.

We concluded that at Five Guys the customer service wasn’t anything special, but the food was most satisfactory.  As for In-n-Out, we noticed that the customer service was very good, and the food was very good. In our opinion, we thought the Habit had the best customer service; the manager was very nice; however, the food was not the best of the three.

We concluded that the reason why people enjoy eating at hamburger restaurants is due to the fact that they like the consistency of the food, the taste, and their feeling of satisfaction after every meal.

Here is our review of the restaurants:

Food builds community

By Jon Garvin, Kai Lock, Ethan Sheppy, Skylar Peters and Malia Vaea

Staff Writers

Walking through Redwood City, you notice a bunch of smiling faces, people quickly getting from place to place, and, most importantly, many restaurants that have become a staple in the local community. These local restaurants have become a major factor in allowing Redwood City to come together as a community.

We decided to spotlight local restaurants in the city’s bustling downtown. We interviewed workers at restaurants such as Teaquation, Quinto Sol, Cafe la Tartine, Cyclismo Cafe and Green Leaf Bistro to answer the question: How have local Redwood City restaurants established themselves and built a community around their food?

Workers offered various perspectives on how difficult it was to build a community and different strategies for reaching out to the customers. For example, the manager of Quinto Sol, Jose Martinez, said he didn’t face many problems in building a community and that “the whole city welcomed us really well.”

Though building a sense of community around a local business can seem like a fun job, there are many struggles that come with the task. Restaurants can face many different types of obstacles related to community needs.

The co-owner of Cyclismo Cafe, Jihan Bayyari, had a lot to say about the difficulties she’s faced while working at her restaurant. Restaurants can face these difficulties because they try very hard to respond to customer feedback and constantly try to improve their sense of community.  

The manager of Green Leaf Bistro, Betty Gayez, has faced some problems involving the food. She stated, “For sure, I’d say not a crazy amount of struggle, but you have people coming in that are allergic to this and that and this and you have to make sure that we take care of these little things. We work on the products more and more so that next time we do work on a new menu, or update it, we make sure that these items are taken care of.”

Different restaurants also help host or contribute to various types of events. Mr. Martinez said that Quinto Sol impacts the community by “helping with every single thing that there is, like things at the plaza, with the community like Dia de Los Muertos and other festivities.”

Ms. Bayyari stated, “We host lots of different events. So everything from a community hike, we do a bike ride; we do bike swap meets; we do a paint night once a month. So hosting different community events is what makes people come and start to meet each other.”

Mercedes Mapua, the owner of Teaquation, has done different things with the community as well, such as working with non-profits. Ms. Mapua also added, “We’ve worked with a school as well. We have yet to [do] one this year yet, but hopefully soon. Definitely want to connect with the Redwood locals.”

After interviewing five local restaurants, we noticed how much pride and love they have for their community. They contribute in all the ways they can and help build the sense of community in Redwood City immensely. They positively affect our community by helping bring more and more people together. Together they build unity and pride within our city.

To experience the five different restaurants mentioned, check out our video here:

Click here to see a story map with all the featured restaurants.