Santa Clara University (SCU) has made the decision to place most students in online learning for the Fall Quarter and that means there’s no relief in sight for surrounding businesses.
In a letter released to students in early August, SCU President Kevin F. O’Brien said, “Thus, with 6 weeks to go until Santa Clara’s fall quarter begins, I am announcing today that we have made the difficult decision that courses will be primarily online for our undergraduates, with limited exceptions. In addition, we will suspend plans to bring students back to on-campus housing, again with some exceptions.”
O’Brien says the decision was based on the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area and California. He says the health and safety of the students is the University’s top priority.
While many local business owners understand the decision, they say it’s still hurting them.
“We were affected dramatically when SCU closed last spring. We were initially down about 50 percent,” said Chuck Hammers, the owner of the Pizza My Heart located less than a block away from SCU’s Benson Memorial Center. “What we really miss are the dorm students, the sporting events and many professors treating students to pizza. We understand SCU’s decision and we look forward to serving the students and faculty when they find it safe to return.”
On the other side of the campus, The Hut, temporarily closed its doors because of the campus closure. The popular spot for both SCU students and alumni had reopened in June 2019. It had relied heavily on student traffic. The restaurant’s owners say they will be back.
“It is with a heavy heart that we are temporarily closing our door. We will miss bringing you delicious BBQ but hope to come back stronger on the other side of this. Stay tuned for our reopening,” read a posting on The Hut’s website.
Businesses on Lafayette Street, just west of the campus are also feeling the strain. One restaurant owner, who didn’t want to be named, said that business is “dead.”
“We have less customers and so less profit,” said the manager of Butterfly, a Vietnamese sandwich and bubble tea shop also located on Lafayette Street.
Sarah, the manager of Togo’s on Lafayette Street, says there was an immediate drop off in sales when the students went home in the spring.
“Our sales dropped. I think our sales dropped by like 75 percent the first couple months, and now they’re about 50 percent,” said Sarah.
“Luckily for us, that’s not our only source of customers, we still get some staff that is there,” said Sarah. “So, we’re missing their catering and stuff like that; their big ticket items.”