Chaptown becomes a ghost town once summer rolls around, and The Orange Plaza takes the hit.
The academic year provides a steady stream of business from Chapman students and faculty in The Plaza.
Local businesses in The Plaza prepare for a drop in revenue during the summer when they must rely heavily on tourists and residents for income. Despite the potential for a 10 to 20 percent loss, they simply wait for the influx of students in August.
“It definitely slows up. A good portion of our customers are students,” said Tony Want, co-owner of Tokyo Café, whose revenue decreases up to 20 percent during the summer break.
Waratip Wantana has owned The Filling Station, a restaurant located on the north-east corner of Glassell Street and Maple Avenue, for the past six months. This will be her first summer in the area and expects revenue to drop about 15 percent with students’ absence.
“Running a business, you’re really playing a jigsaw puzzle. You’re always fixing problems everywhere,” she said.
But Wantana anticipates that summer will not be too slow because business has picked up with the warmer weather.
However, Cynthia Waddell, owner of the Heavenly Hostess aprin boutique for six years, sees the summer heat as a deterrent for business.
“The weather affects us more than anything. The days that are super hot, no one wants to walk around,” Waddell said.
To attract more customers, she extends store hours into the evening. However, while students are gone, the tourists visiting the area make up for it.
“The town gets the tourists, but there is a different energy during the summer. It’s a little quieter,” Waddell said.
Like Waddell, Steve Xenos, owner of Citrus City Grille agrees that tourists visiting Disneyland and other surrounding Southern California hotspots make up for the loss of students and faculty.
Xenos, like many Orange Plaza vendors, caters to a younger crowd by offering a discount to Chapman students and hosting a happy hour featuring $5 food and $3 drinks. He expects a 10 percent revenue loss.
Raymond Sfeir, professor of economics and management science for 26 years and vice chancellor for academic administration, lives in the Orange area. He sees a negative impact on The Plaza during the summer months.
“Restaurants and other stores need to expand their market beyond students and faculty,” Sfeir said.
If businesses expand their markets outside of the Chapman community by creating a greater focus on Orange residents and people outside the city, they will be able to withstand the loss, Sfeir said.
Scott Parker, owner of Watson Drug & Soda Fountain, sees summer as an opportunity for business growth with the incoming crop of new students at the start of the academic year.
Offering coupons and welcoming families in with a banner, the restaurateur especially capitalizes on Orientation week, Parker said.
New to The Plaza, Lauren Miller opened Laurenly, a boutique geared to college students, last June. While she expects a drop in business, she isn’t worried because she built her client base around residents as well.
“[I] don’t really get nervous thinking about [summer],” Miller said. “I’ll jump back into things when school starts.”