The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Venturing to Ventura

Students and local Studio City buissness managers discuss how the school community affects restuarants and coffee shops around the Upper School campus.
Illustration by Maiya Holly
Buddy the Wolverine sits atop a vault filled with cash.

Machines whir, blending up pumpkin spice Frappuccinos, and bags crinkle, filled with vanilla bean scones at the Starbucks on Ventura Boulevard. Of the 19 total customers that have made purchases in the last 20 minutes since school has ended, 16 are students of the school. Some came with large groups of friends and stayed in the cafe to enjoy their drinks, while others simply grabbed their mobile orders and left. Starbucks has a location 0.2 miles away from the Upper School. According to a Chronicle poll, 55.5% of 247 respondents said they go to thisw location at least once a week. Students often visit businesses close to campus for something to eat before, during or after school. Fiona Kim ’24 said she enjoys going to that Starbucks because it is a great location to get coffee in the morning and to study later in the day.

“I often find myself driving to Starbucks before school to get my daily caffeine,” Kim said. “Starbucks is also an immaculate location to get work done. The drinks are consistently great at every location in town, and there’s always people who are also studying at the tables beside me.”

Illustration by Lucia Plata

Tess Rosenfeld ’25 said before she stopped having caffeine last year, almost all the money she spent was at the Starbucks near school.

“I have an app that tracks all my spending and there’s a list where you can see all the places you’ve spent money [over] the past couple months and there will be a section that’s just Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks and then nothing else,” Rosenfeld said.

Ashlyn Park ’25 said she goes to Starbucks every time the school day ends before 3 p.m., which adds up to two or three days a week.

“I usually just get a drink and maybe a little bakery item, so maybe that’s like $7 a day,” Park said. “So [I spend] 20ish dollars a week.”

The school’s proximity to Ventura Boulevard and its many restaurants and coffee shops means that, for many students, a non-cafeteria snack or lunch is within close walking or driving distance. Alfred Coffee, another coffee shop that students frequent, has a location about a mile and a half away from the Upper School for four years and recently opened another cafe only a short walk from campus. Alfred Coffee Quality Control Manager and former manager of the original Studio City location Kierston Dotson said they helped with the opening of the new location and saw a lot of students who frequented the first Studio City location.

“I helped open the Alfred Coldwater location right down the way on Ventura,” Dotson said. “It was nice seeing students again. A lot of my regulars go to that location because it is in the neighborhood.”

Kate Beckerman ’25 said the new Alfred location has been convenient because she enjoys it more than Starbucks, and it is easier to get to from school as opposed to the original Studio City location.

“We had Starbucks and it’s not that different, but I like Alfred more,” Beckerman said. “There’s an Alfred about nine minutes away but it’s a lot easier to just go to the one down the street.”

Dotson said while they were the manager of the Studio City location, they often had to organize the day to account for the rush that students caused.

“During my time there, I did have to plan for students coming to the cafe,” Dotson said. “We had to make sure that lunches, breaks and all of our prep was done beforehand. The most popular drink ordered by students is probably our iced matcha latte with oat milk and vanilla. So we made sure that we were stocked and ready for that. It was a major factor in my scheduling process and how we coordinated our day.”

Dotson said they saw a significant decrease in customers for summer as many students were not in the area as often.

“We saw probably about a 10% dip in our sales just because of the lack of foot traffic and things like that,” Kierston said. “I know a lot of them went on great vacations and experiences. Some had some internships and things like that. So, we didn’t see them too often but they are starting to trickle back.”

The manager of Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill Jaquie Ramos often opens the restaurant for the day at 11 a.m. to groups of students waiting for the restaurant to open. Ramos said she sees parents and students of the school frequently, which makes her happy.

“There’s sometimes on Fridays where we’ll have a line of students outside the door waiting for us to open,” Ramos said. “I just love [seeing members of the school’s community] because I’m like, ‘Yes, more students,’ and I see new faces, which means more people.”

Sharky’s location on the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon Avenue is frequented by many members of the school community. According to a Chronicle Poll, 58% of 248 students polled have been to the Sharky’s location. Not only is it a popular spot for dining, but Andres Alas ’25 and Junior Prefect Ellie Borris ’25 are employees at the restaurant. Borris primarily works at Sharky’s during the summer and on weekends, and said he sees many administrators and teachers at the restaurant.

“In the summer, a lot of kids who have sports practices will come after they’re done,” Borris said. “I run into a bunch of teachers. For instance, Ms. Slattery is a frequent Sharky’s customer. She comes with her daughter a lot, and they’re very friendly. I feel like we have that out of school relationship which is cool.”

During the 2022-2023 school year, many restaurants in Studio City, including Sharky’s created discounts for students in collaboration with Prefect Council. Ramos said because many students are unaware of the 10% discount that Sharky’s offers to students of the school, she and her staff make sure to inform people wearing school attire of the discount offered to both students and teachers.

Ramos said many customers at her establishment are from the school.

“We have a lot of groups that come in before school, during their lunch hours or sometimes even after [school],” Ramos said. “It helps us out because we have a lot of students that [spread the] word, so once one friend likes it, they tell their whole friend [group]. It’s amazing.”

Chipotle Studio City manager Travis Jones said he sees a lot of students in the restaurant and that it helps their business in a variety of ways.

“I definitely see a lot of students around lunchtime,” Jones said. “A lot of students come to get because it is a quick place to get something. This helps us out with extra sales and income, but a lot of students also bring their positive energy to the restaurant. Their energy often uplifts the mood of everyone in the restaurant.”

While sophomores and juniors are only able to leave campus after all their classes have finished or before they have begun, seniors can go off-campus for lunch, which tends to expand the range of businesses they go to. According to a Chronicle poll 62% of 84 seniors polled said they utilize their off-campus lunch privileges and 74% of 177 juniors and sophomores polled said they would utilize off-campus privileges if they had them. Kim said she really enjoys using her off-campus lunch privileges despite being limited in time.

“Off-campus lunch privileges were definitely an exciting aspect of senior year,” Kim said. “My friends and I immediately took advantage of the privilege on the first day of school. Since then, I still go off-campus for lunch sometimes, but the one hour time interval is quite limiting in how much we can do. So, we often just end up dining at the same restaurants.”

Beckerman said the businesses around school allow her to spend time with her friends who don’t live in the same area as her.

“School being so close to many places where you can walk or drive is very convenient for me,” Beckerman said. “It allows you to bond and connect with others in the community. Because everyone lives so far away, having areas around campus where you can hangout with friends really strengthens relationships.”

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About the Contributors
Alex Dinh, Assistant Features Editor
Zoe Goor, Assistant Features Editor

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