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July 22, 2002

Whole Earth Restaurant closes; new vendor sought for site

By Louise Donahue

The Whole Earth Restaurant, a fixture at UCSC since its beginnings as a cooperative in the 1970s, has closed. Bids for a new restaurant will be solicited and reviewed by the Graduate Student Governance Board--the restaurant is part of the Graduate Student Commons--as soon as possible.

Bob Pallares at the Whole Earth Restaurant in the summer of 2001. Photo: Louise Donahue

In the meantime, the governance board is looking into possibilities for providing some limited food service, and the site's outside seating will remain available for customers of the Express Store and others in the campus community who may wish to "brown-bag it."

"We hope to replace the Whole Earth with a vibrant new restaurant by fall quarter that still provides the casual ambience, excellent service, and wide variety of menu items, both vegetarian and nonvegetarian, expected by the campus community," the Graduate Student Commons Governance Board said in a memo to the campus community.

The site at the campus's hub--near the bookstore, the new Student Union, and other facilities, with shuttle service close by--makes it a choice location for a restaurant, board members said.

"It's sad. I've been here a long time,"said Whole Earth owner Bob Pallares, who attended UCSC from 1982 to 1988. Pallares said he had been with the restaurant for 17 years, buying into it in 1990 after it had evolved into a privately owned corporation. Pallares cited losses in recent years, stemming in part from the economic downturn and the cost of new equipment at the restaurant's new site, which opened last summer at Quarry Plaza.

"We've always appreciated and loved having the Whole Earth as part of our community," said Gail Heit, associate vice chancellor for student affairs. "It was unfortunate that they were unable to be financially viable. We knew they were struggling and we made as many allowances as possible to assist the restaurant during its transition into the new facility."

"Unfortunately, we reached a point where their level of indebtedness to both the Graduate Commons and other service providers made it impossible to go on," Heit said.

The Graduate Student Commons Governance Board hopes to have a new vendor operating at the site sometime during fall quarter. "We don't wish to rule out any type of restaurant and are pursuing vendors consistent with the campus expectations and culture," the board said in a statement. "We are currently looking for a vendor operating a single dining service facility with an annual gross sales volume of at least $300,000."

Comments on replacement vendors and food choices are being sought by the board through an online survey on the Graduate Student Commons web page.

Text of the Graduate Student Commons Governance Board memo

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