SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Business at one of two Civic Center Plaza eateries has plunged since the Occupy San Diego protests started, while the owner of the other said it was hard to calculate the financial impact of the demonstrations.
Fred Tavackeli, owner of City Cafe across from the entrance to the City Administration Building, said business was down 20 percent as customers avoid a tent city that sprang up in the Community Concourse n Oct. 7.
He said longtime customers from the Civic Center Plaza office building, on the other side of the concourse, have called him to apologize for their lack of recent patronage.
"The other problem (is protesters) were coming in and if you weren't watching, they were stealing coffee," Tavackeli said.
Two chairs stolen from his patio seating area were found by police officers inside a tent, and protesters sat in other patio chairs that are meant for customers, he said.
When he tried to drive them off, they responded with "f-words," according to Tavackeli.
Concern over the impact of Occupy San Diego on plaza businesses grew this week as two women who own coffee and hot dog carts said they had to shut down following confrontations with protesters and vandalism.
The city has offered rent credits to coffee cart owner Linda Jenson.
Letty and Pete Soto, who own the hot dog enterprise, work under a lease with a private firm that owns the Civic Center Plaza office building. Representatives of the company have not returned telephone calls on whether the Sotos would receive the same assistance.
A fundraiser for the women is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at Downtown Johnny Brown's restaurant.
The owner of that establishment, Todd Alexander, said it was hard to compare how business is going with previous times because his revenues are dependent on shows across the plaza at the Civic Theatre or Golden Hall.
"I would say it's mixed -- there are things that are helpful and things not so helpful," Alexander said, without providing details.
Downtown Johnny Brown's is a lunchtime and after-work gathering spot for city employees, serving beer and hamburgers to customers who watch sports events on numerous televisions. City Cafe sells coffee, deli sandwiches and snacks.
Tavackeli said protesters have only come in once or twice to purchase coffee in a normal transaction.
"I told one of the organizers, 'In the beginning you had a good cause, but you lost your credibility when you let in the homeless -- now you can't control that monster,"' Tavackeli said.
While he was pleased that police cleared out the concourse, he said he understands the constitutional rights of the protesters to voice their opinions where they want.
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