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Placer students boost Downtown lunch rush

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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The weekday lunch rush pumps up the volume during the half-hour that Placer High students stream into the numerous eateries in Downtown Auburn. And for many of the businesses, having school back in session brings a welcome boost. At Local Heroes on High Street, that means lots of french fries and burgers flying out the door. “Our main customers are the students,” server Brooke Swisley said Tuesday. “We get 30 to 40 kids in here (during lunch). Since we’re a new business, that is helping us get started.” Redesigned Central Square with its ample seating has become a convenient spot to eat a quick lunch. Tango frozen yogurt sees 30 to 60 students each day, owner Lisa Swisley said. Not all of them are there for a frozen treat. “We also sell sandwiches,” Swisley said. A Town Deli, up the street on Lincoln Way and a longer walk for students, is supplying the sandwiches. For $5, the kids get a half-sandwich, chips and a soda. “Plus the sandwiches are ready to go, so they don’t have to wait,” Swisley said. A few doors away, nearly a dozen freshmen and sophomores were enjoying boxes of freshly cooked noodles from Sum’s Mongolian Bar-B-Que. “Mongolian is my favorite,” sophomore Brennan Entz said, estimating he eats there probably three times a week. Freshman Dallin Penney said he likes Mongolian and Tango. On Tuesday, Dallin was having a triple-chocolate frozen yogurt. “I just got braces,” he explained. Wallace Soohoo, co-owner and manager of Sum’s Mongolian, said he welcomes the students, but the added numbers don’t really influence the bottom line. “When the kids are here, we have fewer of our regular customers,” he said. In the past, Soohoo has had some problems with students being rude to other customers and also being very messy. “But this year I have it under control,” he said. Hanami Sushi, also in the square, sees its share of students, too. “They usually order a deep-fried California roll,” waiter Teddy Yoon said. At Burney’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs in the Gold Country Mall, having school is session means a big lunch rush. “They’re consistently here every day,” owner Bill Veerkamp said. “We enjoy them, too. It’s fun to watch them. It’s amazing how fast they get in here. We have it set up to get them in and out quickly.” Hamburgers and smoothies are also popular choices, he said. Nearby, Pacha Mama’s student menu brings in a few of the kids. It’s a half-wrap with a Hansen’s soda for $5, Tracy Stephens said. A little farther up High Street, Depoe Bay sees a coffee run when the students arrive. “We get a line in here all the way to the door,” employee Lacy Davis said. “They get bagels, smoothies, blended white mochas and coffee toffees. A lot of the students drink coffee. It’s surprising.” At Central Square, Placer sophomore Kevin Stofleth said he comes downtown five days a week for lunch. “I like Tango’s,” he said. “I like the yogurt.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com