Cafeteria vacancy remains without a firm replacement

When students walk into Santa Monica College, they are faced with overbearing workloads, frustrating financial situations, and pressure to choose the right major for themselves. In lieu of those difficulties, students need a place to refuel and eat. That usually sends them to Eat Street or one of the other stores on campus like Starbucks.

SMC does not own these restaurants, but leases out space for them to be able to operate in the main campus cafeteria.

However, one corner space of the cafeteria in specific of remains closed off and empty. This space is the former home of the now-infamous Bread Factory, which was closed off last February due to owner Soo Jeong Pak’s inability to pay some of her student workers’ wages as well as $77,000 in rent. The sudden closure of the Bread Factory during the Winter 2013 break resulted in a prolonged legal battle that involved Pak taking SMC to court in an unsuccessful lawuit as well as her former business partner, the still operative Eat Street eatery. In addition, several former Bread Factory workers claimed loss of wages.

Today the cafeteria space’s shutters are still closed shut, with seemingly no replacement coming too soon and the corner will remain indefinitely closed off. For now its lonely columns have been used for plastering advertisements, announcements and flyers from various groups and organizations.

Lee Peterson doesn’t have any information on the matter of the Bread Factory’s replacement.

“I know absolutely nothing about any replacement for a Bread Factory,” he says. “Nothing is percolating through the grapevine yet.”

Robert Myers, Campus Counsel, says he is not involved in finding a replacement for the Bread Factory. Michael Tuitasi, Vice President of Student Affairs, was quick to decline any involvement in the search for a replacement as well, despite his involvement in . Likewise, Director of Human Resources Sandy Chung did not have any information on the matter either. Despite all being directly involved in student issues, none had any solid information to give.

Charlie Yen, Director of Contract Services, suggested speaking to Cynthia Moore, Director of Purchasing, the department in charge of handling the replacement of the Bread Factory, but she confirmed that there are no plans being formed for the area yet.

“There’s no solid plan for anything yet,” says Cynthia Moore, Director of Purchasing at SMC.

Moore goes on to detail what would replace Bread Factory and the requirements for potential restaurants to move into the space.

“It would have to be something healthy, something with unique menu items, high quality, low price, something like that,” she says. The question of affordable prices will no doubt be a major factor in the school’s decision as to who will fill the vacancy.

With no actual plans to lease out the empty space to private restaurant businesses, it seems the space across from the Eat Street restaurant will remain indefinitely shut down, leaving Eat Street without competition for a good while as the semester rolls on.