Isaacs Construction Impacts Local Businesses

Maggie Chang, Staff Reporter

Photo by Caroline Arya

The construction on Isaacs Street, that began second semester last year and will end October of this year, has proven to be harmful to several businesses that line East Isaacs Street.

Isaacs Street is undergoing construction that will hopefully improve the safety of the street by adding marked pedestrian crossings and bike lanes. Construction is divided into three stages. Currently in the first and second phase, it blocks Isaacs street between Rose Street and Clinton Street. Ming Court has been suffering from a slower customer flow due to the obstruction of a large portion of Isaacs street, that used to allow easy access to the restaurant from the west. Taqueria Mi Pueblito also anticipates the loss of several customers in a few weeks when construction moves onto stage three, consequently blocking their drive-thru service. Before construction began, letters were sent out from the construction company to these businesses.

Although the construction will end around October of this year, and will provide a much safer crossing medium for drivers and pedestrians alike, local businesses are left to deal with its inevitable impact on their sales.

Photo by Caroline Arya

Binnie Tang, one of the owners of Ming Court, expressed her concerns about the impact on her business.

“Coming in here? I had around 20 people at a time [during lunch], and during dinnertime about the same amount. Now I don’t.” With a significantly lower amount of customers, those at Ming Court had to deal with a reduced amount of income. “I’ve lost about 15 percent [of sales]. We’ve cut down on overhead. I’ve cut down hours from the workers,” Tang said. The construction on Isaacs has and will affect more people than just business owners. However this only temporary. “I think once the construction is done, the customers will come back,” Tang says.

Taqueria Mi Pueblito sits just a block away from Ming Court, and will also be affected at some point during the construction on Isaacs. Adriana Sereno, manager at Taqueria Mi Pueblito, commented on how she thought it would affect the restaurant.

Photo by Caroline Arya

“We have the drive thru, and the cars have to go through Isaacs street, so that would affect out drive thru. It would affect us badly. Most of the orders we have in the morning are drive thru [orders],” Adriana Sereno says. Mi Pueblito employees will also be affected when it comes to pay. “It would affect our employees because we’re cutting off hours. We need enough money to pay all the employees,” Sereno says. In preparation for the construction’s obstruction of their drive-thru, those at Mi Pueblito are brainstorming ways to make up for lost revenue. “We’re trying to figure out where to put a taco wagon, and we might send some employees there to cover their hours, but we really aren’t sure. We still have to do decide where to put it and how much it’s going to cost us, so it’ll depend if we [make enough money].”

Restaurants like Ming Court and Mi Pueblito are popular among Whitman students partly because of their convenience, a characteristic that is compromised by the construction on Isaacs.

Ben Ward-Dubois, sophomore at Whitman, says, “I think that a big draw to eating at places like [Mi Pueblito] and Ming Court is that the food is good and it doesn’t take too long. With the construction, it’s gonna take as long to go downtown and wait for something as it would to like head over to [Mi Pueblito] and Ming Court. I think people see it as a big detour that they could just avoid completely by going somewhere else.”

Photo by Caroline Arya