Mohammed Suleman, manager of Crave’s Birdhouse, prepares a fried chicken sandwich called “The Batman” which contains a fried chicken cutlet, barbecue sauce and ranch along with lettuce and tomatoes. (Miguel Francesco Carrion / Golden Gate Xpress) (Miguel Francesco Carrion)
Mohammed Suleman, manager of Crave’s Birdhouse, prepares a fried chicken sandwich called “The Batman” which contains a fried chicken cutlet, barbecue sauce and ranch along with lettuce and tomatoes. (Miguel Francesco Carrion / Golden Gate Xpress)

Miguel Francesco Carrion

Restaurants are making their comeback on campus. Here’s what reopened this semester

Many of the restaurants that had to shut down as a result of COVID-19 are now reopening amid a maskless campus.

September 8, 2022

When the COVID-19 pandemic drove students away from campus in 2020, SF State’s restaurants were forced to close their doors.

However, as the campus population returns to pre-pandemic normalcy, five restaurants reopened on campus: Crave’s Birdhouse, Gold Coast Grill & Catering, HSS 121 Cafe, Taza Smoothies & Wraps and Clean Bites.

It has been over two and a half years since some of these restaurants served members of the campus community. But despite the seemingly never ending wait, there was always a plan for them to return. 

The University of Corporation worked with the restaurant managers to determine the best time to relaunch.

“One of the unique things at our campus versus a lot of other CSU campuses is that we tend to gravitate towards smaller businesses and mom-and-pop shops,” said UCorp Retail and Commercial Services manager Andrew Lok. 

Here are some things campus members should know about the local returning restaurants.

Crave’s Birdhouse

Located at the bottom level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, Crave’s Birdhouse offers a variety of vegan and meat-based sandwich options — many of which are named after comic book characters such as Spider-Man, Batman and Black Widow.

The meat used by Crave’s Birdhouse is halal, making it one of the few dining options on campus for Muslim students who practice Shariah. 

Halal meat follows religious criteria in regards to how it is prepared. The animals cannot be treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, the animals must be fed vegetarian diets and there cannot be pork or pork products, to name a few.

“Muslim students need to know that they have a community that cares enough, that they provide halal options and that they’re respecting their dietary needs,” said the president of the Muslim Student Association Faheemah Shaikh.

According to Shaikh, the only other restaurants with halal options are Nizario’s Pizza and Halal Shop.

While SF State is the original home of Crave’s Birdhouse, they have since expanded, opening another location near the UC Berkeley campus in 2019.

Gold Coast Grill & Catering

Another restaurant reopening at the Cesar Chavez Student Center is Gold Coast Grill & Catering. 

The menu makes references to local neighborhoods, landmarks and sports teams. There is the “Park Merced,” a grilled teriyaki chicken sandwich served on a toasted sesame bun; or the “SF Giants,” a club sandwich with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

The options range from breakfast to dinner, so students can enjoy their food throughout the school day. Choices for breakfast include omelets, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches while lunch and dinner offer grilled sandwiches, burgers and wraps.

According to Alma Arguello, who has been working at Gold Coast Grill & Catering for almost four years, business has been moving slower than usual. 

“Hopefully as the semester goes on more people start hearing about the place and they’ll start coming in,” Arguello said.

HSS 121 Cafe

Room 121 of the Health & Social Sciences building isn’t a classroom: it’s a cafe serving hot beverages as well as breakfast and lunch options. The menu includes cafe classics such as bagels, sandwiches, soups and other snacks. 

The restaurant is marked only by a small sign above the door, so many students won’t know about it until they walk past the nonchalant cafe entrance. The eatery has been gaining more traction as students file out of their classes.

“It started slow, but it’s catching up already since it’s already been more than two weeks since school started,” said Cristian Ortega, an employee of the shop.

The HSS 121 Cafe has the unique advantage of being the only restaurant located inside of an academic building, making it an ideal option for students with nearby classes. 

“It’s kind of like a quick stop-and-go before they get to class,” Ortega said.

Taza Smoothies & Wraps

Taza Smoothies & Wraps provides plenty of cultural variety from Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian food choices. 

The restaurant is located at the Village at Centennial Square, which procures plenty of foot traffic from the students who reside in the building.

When Taza reopened at the beginning of the semester, the menu was missing some of its usual items such as their Mexican food. Those items have slowly but surely been returning and it is likely that more will reappear over the course of the year.

“It’s been a slow process,” said an employee of the restaurant Adrian Uribe. “We’ve been slowly getting items back on the menu.”

While it offers plenty of food, Taza Smoothies & Wraps has attracted the most attention for its signature smoothies. The menu offers a range of unique combinations such as the “Chocolate Monkey,” a smoothie made with chocolate, bananas, milk and nonfat frozen yogurt.

“The first day we opened, a lot of people were asking about the smoothies, so I think that’s probably the best thing about this place,” Uribe said.

Clean Bites

Perfectly situated for students exercising at the Mashouf Wellness Center, Clean Bites has two main focuses: protein and hydration. 

The Mashouf restaurant offers a plethora of choices from nutrient-dense wheatgrass shots to protein-packed cantina kebab bowls. Many of the menu items are filled with superfoods such as kale, hemp seeds, maca powder, spirulina and more.

“After [a] workout, you need protein and healthy food, so that’s the main focus for us,” said Yas Wesa, an employee at Clean Bites. “You know what your body needs, protein and juices to get you hydrated.”

Unlike the other restaurants, Clean Bites did not return at the beginning of the semester. Its official reopening was Sept. 6, but Wesa is confident that it will return to its former glory.

“It’s going to be easy,” Wesa said. “We’re minimizing the menu part of it, so we’ll see how it goes.”

While some of the restaurants have been struggling to return to their pre-pandemic success, there is hope that the business will improve over the course of the semester.

“I think a big part is just to get the word out there,” Lok said. “A lot of juniors, because things were remote the last couple years, this is their first time on campus. It’s just going to take some time to rebuild that regular traffic flow.”


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About the Contributors
Photo of Aiden Brady
Aiden Brady, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Aiden Brady (he/him) is the arts & entertainment for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in English literature. He was born in San Diego, California and currently lives in San Francisco. During his free time, he enjoys finding new music, attending concerts and watching sports.
Photo of Miguel Francesco Carrion
Miguel Francesco Carrion, Visuals Editor
Miguel Francesco Carrion (he/him) is a fifth-year photojournalism major and Asian American studies minor. While he claims to be a country-singing, Bronco riding cowboy in another universe, he is currently serving as the visuals editor for the Golden Gate Xpress. Outside of school, he works as a freelance photographer and videographer, and his work has appeared in BBC North America, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Positively Filipino Magazine and The Filipino Channel. When not working, you can find him at The Pub or in the back of his friends’ cars belting Zach Bryan lyrics out of tune.

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