Customers sit in front of Café Rosso, located across the Humanities Building on the SF State campus on Nov. 12, 2020. (James Wyatt / Golden Gate Xpress) (James Wyatt)
Customers sit in front of Café Rosso, located across the Humanities Building on the SF State campus on Nov. 12, 2020. (James Wyatt / Golden Gate Xpress)

James Wyatt

How COVID-19 changed SF State’s food vendor strategy

November 13, 2020

Eight of the 21 food service establishments are open at SF State for students living on campus and students required to attend in-person classes for Fall 2020.

Unlike the 21 food establishments on campus that are regularly open for students and the public during their normal hours, the pandemic has resulted in several of them closing, such as Clean Bites, Crave Subs and Ha Tien Cove.

Tables wrapped together with caution tape in front of Gold Coast grill in the Cesar Chavez Student Center on the SF State campus. (James Wyatt / Golden Gate Xpress) (James Wyatt)

 According to Director of Residential Life David Rourke, on-campus housing typically consists between 4,300 and 4,500 students. Due to the pandemic, 414 people are living on campus this semester. Student presence has affected the reopening of several of these food service establishments located on campus. 

“Business is starting to pick up this week slowly but still kinda slow,” Ricardo Del Santos, manager of Café Rosso, said during the first week of the semester

Del Santos said that the cafe, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, was regularly busy. This school year differed from any other school year; Del Santos estimated $450 in sales a day now. These campus businesses are affected by COVID-19 and the lack of students not having to physically be on campus. He stated that his employees hours were being cut, and “labor is at 25% due to the lack of business.”

“Business is slow,” Café 101 employee Gabby Ortiz said. Ortiz explained that she was the only one working the whole cafe. Due to the pandemic, business at this cafe is affected in sales.

Businesses miss the foot traffic of students on campus, and the feeling is mutual from SF State students; Students expressed what establishments they missed and the last time they were on campus.

“Last time I was on campus was March 13. I miss the coffee at Café Rosso and the mozzarella sticks at Vilmar,” cinema student Isabella Doumitt said. 

Director of Operations for University Corp Chris Farmer oversees all the retail and commercial services on campus. He said that the university has ultimately decided on waiving rent fees for these businesses for the rest of 2020.

The veggie chicken pesto sandwich and macaroni and cheese from Café Rosso located on Centennial Walkway on the SF State campus. (James Wyatt / Golden Gate Xpress) (James Wyatt)

“Essentially, waving all their rents and recharges for the month of March through June and it was the first step, and then of course, we didn’t know how long the pandemic was going to continue,” Farmer said. “We went ahead and waived all rental recharges for July through December.” 

Farmer explained that retail and commercial establishments rents were waived in the summer and will last through the fall semester. These independent partners had to decide whether to reopen or stay closed by June.

History student Adriano Michael expressed sadness towards the closure of campus and named a couple of his favorite places to eat on campus.

“The last time I was on campus was around the third week of June,” Michael wrote to Xpress. “It was honestly so empty, and it was kinda sad to see all the energy gone … One of the main places I miss eating at is Ha Tien Cove. I’m surrounded by a lot of Vietnamese and Asian ethnic food from where I’m from, and eating pho from Ha Tien Cove and getting a Bánh mì always satisfied my cravings.” 

The establishments open currently on campus are working remote hours. Here is a list of places that are opened on campus this fall semester provided by the university. 

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