Public Comment

Discrimination at Bear’s Lair Food Court

By Ann My Linh Vu
Thursday November 05, 2009 - 08:47:00 AM

My name is Ann My Linh Vu and I am the owner of Healthy Heavenly Foods inside the Bear’s Lair Food Courts.  

First of all, I would like to say thanks you to the student-led organization of the ASUC for extending the contract for my restaurant to May 31, 2010 (instead of closing on Dec. 15, 2009).  

I am deeply grateful for all the supports from the faculty and the student body with helping me to keep Healthy Heavenly Foods around. Every petition’s signature that was signed and every email was sent out, they all meant a lot to me. My restaurant has been on campus for almost twenty years serving customers who craves our unique Vietnamese flavor. Together, we and the school have built up so much memory.  

Through the article of Hannah Edwards from the Daily Cal on Thursday Oct. 15, I expressed my anger and disappointment for the unfair act and injustice of the ASUC Executive Board.  

The Board offered such an easy-going deal for Tully Coffee for $3,400 a month at the prime location on campus. In addition, Naia lounge was offered a deal of $2,800 per month for a spacious area to run their business. Both stores just signed their contracts with ease. Compared to the deals for Bear’s lair vendors, it is a flat out act of discrimination.  

The four restaurants in Bear’s Lair are: Coffee Spot, Sensation Sandwich, Taqueria EI Tacontento, and Healthy Heavenly Foods. Our old contract was $3,450 a month for each store and that sums up to $13,800 of cash flow for the ASUC.  

Under the new contract, for some unknown reason, someone on the Board of AUSC allowed Mr. Haitham Alloum to take over Coffee Spot and Sensation Sandwich and consolidated them into one store.  

Three vendors, same landlord, but three different rent contracts:  

Healthy Heavenly Foods was offered to pay $6,800 for rent and an extra $1,000 for some extra service fee only to rent a 400 square feet space. I already rejected this offer and amcurrently waiting for a new and more reasonable offer to come—I had a lease extension for one more year and pay the same rent.  

Taqueria EI Tacontento was offered the same deal except they will get a larger space—600 square feet. He has to sign the new contract by the deadline on Nov. 9, 2009. If he is going to sign he has to pay more than double rent.  

Haitham Alloum was offered the same renting rate as both of Healthy Heavenly Foods and Taqueria EI Tacontento, but lesser service charge and he will get two stores for the price of one store—about 750 square feet. He is so happy with the new contract because he will pay less. He signed the new contract two week ago.  

I wanted to point out this unjust act of the ASUC’s Executive Board so people can see the truth. I could not help but to question whether there was something crooked going on behind all of these unfair contracts.  

Being a female of color in the U.S., speaking very little English, I had to work very hard to overcome these social barriers in order to deliver the best quality Vietnamese foods to the Berkeley community.  

In return for my efforts, the ASUC Board provided me with trouble after trouble. They constantly threatened to terminate the existence of my restaurant in order to clear room for corporate fast-food chains like Panda Express, Tully Coffee, and etc.  

In 2007, my health was damaged due to excessive stress of worrying about the balance of my life after losing my business. I was drained physically and mentally. I wholeheartedly beg for the support of students, faculty, and ASUC staff. I just wanted to keep my business alive so I could continue to serve the Berkeley community till retirement.  

President Kennedy once said: “We are a nation of immigrants...”  

Please open the door to welcome and fairly treat the hard working immigrants like us. We are not a burden to this country.  

Lastly, I want to say thank you again for taking your valuable time reading this and writing emails to the ASUC’s Board on behalf of Healthy Heavenly Foods.  

Support mom and pop businesses because we are here to cater to you!  


Ann My Linh Vu is the owner of Healthy Heavenly Foods.