Former Bread Factory space to rise again

Every day, SMC students pass through the Cafeteria on the Main Campus in search of a hot meal, a cup of coffee, a place to sit and catch up with friends or play a few rounds of “Magic: The Gathering.” Most students are familiar with all the sustenance the cafeteria has to offer: the Eat Street food emporium, the Campus Kitchen, and the TCBY Coffee Spot.

But there used to be another option available that many students have never even heard of: The Bread Factory, which used to operate in the cafeteria before owner Soo Jeong Pak was evicted for not paying rent in 2014. The former home of The Bread Factory is now just a counter covered in Torani signs and boarded up with drywall that sits across from Eat Street. Most students pass by the vacated kiosk without paying any attention to it — the former prominence of the eatery forgotten after two years of abandonment.

This is all about to change this upcoming summer, as officials at SMC are moving forward to open up the space once occupied by The Bread Factory to bids from vendors who may want to build a new eatery on campus. Meanwhile, students have been petitioning to get their own choices considered with school officials.

At the District Planning and Advisory Council (DPAC) meeting on Wednesday, April 27, SMC’s Chief Director of Business Services Chris Bonvenuto updated the attending constituencies about the college’s plan for the space.

Bonvenuto explained that while SMC intended to move forward with announcing the space as open to bids this summer, the school needed to obtain a waiver from the Board of Governors in order to have more control over which potential vendors could apply.

"So we've applied to the Board of Governors for a waiver from the current code that would require us to take the highest bidder," Bonvenuto said. "Because we're leasing land, and we don't want to just open it up to the highest bidder and be stuck with McDonald's.”

This was confirmed by the Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Tuitasi, who explained the reason for the requested waiver was so the school could prioritize healthier eating options with potential vendors who may want to use the space.

Tuitasi said, “[Without the waiver] the District would have little ability to ensure that the vendor is responsive to student’s needs. For example, one of the criteria we require is that a healthy, low-cost meal option is included on the menu for students… another is that all cleaning materials are certified ‘green.’”

While the Board of Governor’s had not put the waiver on their agenda by the time Tuitasi responded to The Corsair’s inquiries on May 5, both Tuitasi and Bonvenuto had confirmed that the school’s plan was to move forward with announcing the space as available this summer, even without the waiver.

The current plan would be to limit potential vendors to a 5-year lease, though both Tuitasi and Bonvenuto warned that this would likely limit the number of potential vendors who would apply.

In the meantime, some students at SMC have been petitioning local businesses to get involved and make bids for the space once it is officially announced this coming summer.

Lina Lopez, a co-founder and former president of the Corsairs for Animal Rights & Ethics Club, said she had been working with students to petition Samosa House, a Los Angeles chain which serves vegan and vegetarian Indian food, to put their hat into the ring once the bidding opens.

“Honestly, I just like going there, and then I talked to the owners about seeing if they had any interest in being on campus, considering we had that empty space," Lopez said. "They were for it, and I feel like they would sell a lot and it would work out for the students because I feel like they would get a good price from them.”