ECONOMIC ENGINE THAT COULD
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Sysco Food Services, which stocks campus food outlets, does about $1 million worth of business a year with the university. "Students are always there and they're always going to eat," says Vaughn Jackson, a marketing associate with Sysco. "It's not like -outside-- restaurants that have unpredictable ups and downs. The only time business is down with an account like UCLA is when they go on break, and you know when that's going to happen."
For some, UCLA is the reason they're in business.
"If UCLA hadn't been here, there is no way I would have opened this business," says Philip Gabriel, owner of Scrubs Unlimited in Westwood Village, which supplies such items as lab coats, masks and other laboratory and medical apparel. "Sixty to 65 percent of our business is UCLA-related. We are a niche retailer."
Westwood Village itself was born because of UCLA. In 1925, the Janss Corporation sold 375 acres of land to the cities of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Venice, land which those cities then deeded to the University of California to build what would become UCLA. The company then went on to develop and promote Westwood Village as "The Town for the Gown" next door.
"UCLA has, from the outset, been the impetus behind Westwood," says Jeff Abell '69, the chief financial officer of Sarah Leonard Fine Jewelers, the oldest business in the Village.
In constructing the LAEDC's economic-impact study, Ken Ackbarali, vice president and managing director of economic consulting, says the assumption was made that within a one-mile radius of campus there is such a concentration of population associated with the university that the lion's share of the economic activity in the area is attributable to UCLA.
Bob Prasad, general manager of Tanino Ristorante Bar, arguably one of the most upscale restaurants in the Village, is one local businessman who would have to agree. He estimates that nearly 50 percent of his business is directly related to the university. Commencement week and weekend are by far the busiest times of the year for the restaurant, which begins to book up as much as three months in advance with graduating students and their families. When the UCLA-run Geffen Playhouse is in season, it also brings a lot of customers into Tanino.
Retailers, too, benefit. Muriel Chastanet has made custom jewelry in the Village since 1963, and the shop estimates that upwards of a third of its business derives directly from UCLA and from people who come for treatment at the medical center.