Students swarm Downtown during lunch

Doing the ‘Placer rush’
By: Kristine Guerra Journal Correspondent
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Local high school students returned from winter break Wednesday, and Auburn businesses once again happily experienced the “Placer rush.” On Wednesday, Downtown fast-food restaurants were inundated with student customers looking for good and inexpensive food they could order and eat quickly. Taco Tree, located right across the street from Placer High, is extremely popular with students. “They have simple tacos and burritos that are cheap (enough) for high school students,” said junior Celeste Havener, who said she comes to Taco Tree every once in a while. Antoine Gilliaux, senior exchange student from Belgium, said other than being “fast, good and cheap,” Taco Tree gives him a taste of Mexican food. “We have no Mexican food in Belgium. For me, it’s new,” Gilliaux said. Local Heroes, located just a few blocks away from Placer High, experienced its first “Placer rush” on Wednesday since it opened last month. “We heard it was new and we wanted to try it out,” said sophomore Nicole Parrish. “They’re really fast at getting your order. The food is fresh and you watch them make it.” Sophomore Allison Alvarez said it’s the colors of the dining area that caught her attention. “It’s based on Placer High,” Alvarez said, noting the wall’s green and yellow colors and the jersey uniforms on display. “The burgers are really good and they don’t taste like any other kind of restaurant.” Local Heroes co-owner Crystal Keyser said their restaurant specifically caters to students. “Our main goal is to provide another option to students,” Keyser said. “We don’t want to cut into someone else’s business; our goal is to have our own niche.” Other places popular with students in Downtown Auburn include Burney’s Old Fashion Hotdogs on Lincoln Way and Pizza Place on High Street. Burney’s Old Fashion Hotdogs owner Bill Veerkamp said they usually have full tables during lunch hours when students come in. “It’s a big percentage of our lunch hour. We have quality products that are reasonably priced,” Veerkamp said. “I’ve added hamburger on the menu (in the past year), and that helped the sales.” Pizza Place General Manager Richie Hocutt said they usually have 40 to 60 student customers during lunchtime. “We have an affordable lunch, $4 for a full meal,” Hocutt said. “I try to create an environment for them so they can relax and feel like they’re away from school for a little while.” Although the Placer rush can deter some adult customers from coming in, Taco Tree Owner Jim Anderson said they’re happy about their student customers. Taco Tree General Manager Deb Olpin said during the first two weeks of August when the first quarter at Placer High starts, other customers ask them when the students will start coming in so they can take their lunch later and avoid the rush. “Everybody knows about the Placer rush, and they (other customers) try to avoid it during that time,” said Foresthill resident and customer Bethany Fieguth. Anderson said it’s not only proximity that attracts students to Taco Tree. “It’s quality food. It’s not just because we’re close,” Anderson said. “Many years in a row, we’ve been the best fast food in Auburn.”