Shopowners reflect on time at the UV


In May, the remaining shops and restaurants at the University Village will finally close their doors as construction begins on the USC Village, the university’s $1-billion project to turn the area University Village now occupies into dining, retail and student housing space. The Daily Trojan interviewed some of the current UV patrons about their shops, histories and future plans.  The interviews have been lightly edited for clarity. Photos by Christine Yoo.

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Akm Alam, owner of Quik-Pix Photo & Digital Lab

Daily Trojan: How long have you had this shop?

Akm Alam: Since 1981. I owned the business since 1995, but before that I was working. So I started to work for the corporation before I became the owner of the business.

 

DT: What are your plans after you close?

Alam: I just found a — it’s still tentative now, it’s not sure yet — shop on Vermont and 29th, exactly two blocks from here.

 

DT: Are you planning on operating the same store over there?

Alam: I’m planning to, yes, yes. Not this large a scale, a smaller scale. Until they finish the Village over here. If they give us the chance, I’ll come back here.

 

DT: So you’d like to come back?

Alam: If they give us the chance, you know. They told us, no priority nothing. They don’t know what kind of business at that time they’re going to offer. If they offer something like this, probably. There’s no reason, I’ve been here for so many years, not to give it to me now.

 

DT: Why do you like having your business in the UV?

Alam: I grew up over here, 33 years. I must like it you know, the environment, community, students, faculty, staff, class. You know I’ve been over here for so many years, you can say I grew up, 33 years in the same place, same location. So I have special feelings, love and affection for this place.

 

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Amy Hwang, owner of Nahm San Korean B.B.Q.

DT: How long have you been here?

Hwang: I’ve been here 13 years. I don’t know how long this business was here, but I’ve been here 13 years.

 

DT: What are your plans after you close?

Hwang: I think they told me we can come back … The people who got here before 2008, I’ve been here 2001. That’s why I can come back, I’m hoping.

 

DT: What are you going to do in the meantime?

Hwang: I don’t want to stay home. But they say only three years, but I don’t think three years, longer.

 

DT: What do you like about being in the UV?

Hwang: I like it, I really like it, because the students. I think the students are like my kids, yeah, my kids. When I give to them, I get the money from them, but my mind is just about my son and my daughter, give it to the food. I really enjoy for 13 years.

 

DT: Do you have a favorite memory?

Hwang: I just like the students, that’s it. Sometimes the student got the cold, you know, and I find out because they wipe their nose a lot and the red color. And I use hot water machine and put in lemon. I have all the time lemon because when we make the sauce for beef we put the lemon. We have the lemon, hot water and lemon, I give it to them and then after they go to their country, China or something, and they send a letter. Also next year, new student came from China, and they gave me the letter from before in years the guy, they gave me the letter. And then, after vacation and they got back, they gave me the letter … I really enjoy. I really want to come back. I love the students. Sometimes they get here, “Oh I hungry,” and I can’t say no. Just eating, and I give to them no charge and, “You can pay me next time.”

 

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Johnny Senkiua, member of the family that owns Thai Trio

DT: How long have you been here?

Senkiua: 15 years. It’s a family restaurant.

 

DT: What do you like about being here?

Senkiua: Well with the school, closer to the school, with students, I think it’s the best place. Better than go outside, you know, far from school. Student as customer is probably the best.

 

DT: How come?

Senkiua: They’re easy, you know. They’re pretty easy, not too much picky. They just like anything, that’s the best thing.

 

DT: What are your plans after you close?

Senkiua: We don’t know yet. We have Trio House, but you know we’re going to move some stuff from here to there and we’re probably going to start from there.

 

DT: You guys own Trio House too?

Senkiua: It’s a family restaurant. So my brother is taking care of that one. We opened this one first, and then since we did well at this place, that’s why we get Trio House.

 

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Rosie Mughadam, owner Touch of Class

*Mughadam requested not to be photographed.

DT: How long have you had this job?

Mughadam: Thirty-nine years. My husband started here, I owned the second one on the other side.

 

DT: What happened to the second one?

Mughadam: It closed.

 

DT: What are your plans after this store closes?

Mughadam: I’m going to try to see if I find something around the neighborhood because the rents around here are too expensive. They jack up the prices since they know that we got to close around here. And, you know, the business around here in the neighborhood is only eight months.

 

DT: How come?

Mughadam: The students. I work more with the students, I get staff from the school, and I have the community but it’s not [enough]. So the reason that we have to leave is because the school decided to close everything and take everything out of here.

If you allow me, I’d like to thank all the students and staff from the school and the neighborhood. I really wish best luck to all the students who are graduating this year that are clients of here.

 

  • Anya M. Lehr

    Most importantly, these are the people that care about the students.

  • Sam Hill

    Awesome article. UV is the best. The shop owners are so positive, the food is great, and the price is right. Don’t forget Sandwich Island and Health Hut.