What Azusa thinks of us

A plethora of book-lined cozy coffee shops, a multitude of thrift stores, bike stands on every corner and the many eco-friendly organic restaurants can only mean one thing— you are in a college town.

Whether you are in college or have been to a town where a college is located, you can clearly see the difference in shops and attractions. There may be more college students employed by local businesses, many apartment style living and venues geared towards those that are in college to…. study. But what does this mean for the residents of the college town?

For Francisco Cervantes, living in Azusa with both a 4-year university and a community college right next door, it has only proved to be beneficial.

“I think that it is a good example for the youth,” Cervantes said. “It has only been good for me and my family here in Azusa.”

Cervantes has nothing negative to say about living in a city with a college in it. His son, who is in eighth grade, currently attends Slauson Middle School in Azusa. He has been able to see the college’s aid at school with programs such as AVID, Tutoring, Homework House and many others.

Although there are many perks to living in a college town for the community, for local business owners, colleges make things a bit more expensive.

“Owning a restaurant next to a college campus is hard because the rent is jacked up because of it,” owner of Jaun Pollo 88 Tony Campos said. “I don’t know how Marie Calendars is still there. APU doesn’t own this land, but the landlord makes it really expensive. I have to pay $5,000 a month to be here and I think that Marie Calendars right there on the corner has to pay $20,000,” .

Campos said that he has been lucky with his business. He has been the owner of it since 1996 and along with Subway, the dentist and the optometrist in the same shopping center, he is one of the few to stay afloat.

The side of the shopping center that is closer to the school gets better business. Stores on the opposite side are always going out of business, according to Campos.

“I went to school to become a chef and I also cooked for a rich guy on the side. I did not like working for him,” Campos said. “I wanted to be my own boss so I called the owner of Juan Pollo and asked for the lowest income store and it was this one in Azusa. I guaranteed him I would double his sales and then I tripled them. I was able to keep employees and pay them what they deserved.”

He also stated that he had a 10-year plan in 1996 to sell, but in 2006 he had to reevaluate and start up another 10-year plan. Since his start in ’96, he and his family now own 32 stores in California. He does not like that the rent is so high where his business is located, but says that the student and teacher costumers who come in the store make up for it in the long run.

“Teachers and students are some of our regular costumers. We also employ students who are trying to become business majors so they can understand better the business of a restaurant,” Campos said.

Robert Ramos is the owner of C Nak’s El Loco Sports Grill, the restaurant which opened five weeks ago on the farther side of the shopping center next to APU. Ramos is still new to the area but said that the first thing that he noticed was the campus security who would come over into the shopping center.

Last year, Campus Safety hired and trained more students as security for along the border of the school with some of them walking all the way up to the shopping center across the street and adjacent to the school.

“Even when I leave the store around 11 or midnight, I will see students out and about. I think it’s APU’s and not Citrus’ safety people out here late at night. They make me feel safe and the students feel safe,” Ramos said.

All in all, APU, according to Azusa residents and local business owners provides, a safer community, a better future for their kids and a good amount of customers.