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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Local restaurants face economic hardships

Kevin Brost
Kevin Brost / Arizona Daily Wildcat Customers eat at The Fat Greek, a Greek restaurant on University Blvd. on Wednesday. The restaurant has seen a decrease in customers since the recession began.

The lingering poor economy has left its mark on Tucson’s University Boulevard.

A constant cycle of businesses, including new eateries like Campus Candy and Pasco Kitchen and Lounge, and the losses of Vila Thai Cuisine and The Lab Food and Drinks, are evidence of a struggle to survive on the boulevard.

Yanni Markou, manager of The Fat Greek restaurant, said the number of customers has significantly decreased over the past couple years.

“It’s not like it used to be. In the past, the line would be outside the restaurant. Now it’s never out there,” Markou said.

Markou said keeping prices steady has been his restaurant’s response to the poor economy.

“That (raising prices) is something we’re not doing or we’re doing, depends how you see it,” he said. The crowd of faculty, students and visitors is still consistent, according to Markou, but people have altered their payment methods.

“Something I’ve noticed is the percentage of credit card use versus cash. In the past, it used to be 60 percent credit card, 40 percent cash, now it’s close to 80 percent credit card, 30 percent cash (sic),” Markou added.

Despite the suffering economy, restaurants on University Boulevard have an advantage because of their close proximity to the UA, according to Jesus Valenzuela, a server at Frog & Firkin. However, even with its busy location, Frog & Firkin has still been affected, Valenzuela said.

“Usually we do okay, mainly because of the U of A, but even this year we felt it,” he said. “For lunch time we’ve slowed down a lot, I feel like we’re missing a lot of workers. … We used to get packs (of people) from companies like UPS, and firefighters … we don’t get those packs of people anymore.”

Espresso Art Café, unlike some restaurants on University Boulevard, has seen an increase in business according to the café owner’s son, Paul Mannheim, a graduate from the Eller College of Management. Mannheim said the café suffered for a few years, but despite talk of the fallen economy, business is picking up.

“People seem to be wanting to go out more. We deal with hookah and coffee, and we sell a lot of hookah, and that’s more of a pleasure item than an item that you need,” Mannheim said. “So if one was to judge the economy, you would look at what (people) spend their money on … so it can’t be that bad, or maybe it’s getting better, I have no idea. (But) for us, we’re doing pretty well.”

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