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February 3, 2003

New restaurant coming soon to Quarry Plaza

By Louise Donahue

The search for a new restaurant for Quarry Plaza at UCSC is over, and the winner is Joe's Pizza and Subs.

Joe and Georgette Hammana, who run Joe's Pizza and Subs on Water Street in Santa Cruz, plan to open their new restaurant at UCSC within a month. Photo: Louise Donahue

Owner Joe Hammana plans to open his UCSC operation within a month. The eclectic menu will range from pizza and hamburgers to vegan dishes and Middle Eastern specialties—and Hammana promises a few surprises, as well.

The new restaurant will also be called Joe's Pizza and Subs, and will include a vegan menu, as well as more than 50 kinds of New York-style sub sandwiches and daily specials.

Hammana's ability to suit widely varying tastes was a major selling point for Joe's. An online survey this past fall revealed often-conflicting preferences: some wanted fast food, others wanted a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, while still others favored Asian or other ethnic food.

"I believe he'll be a great fit for the campus," said Ruth Schmitz, a graduate student and a member of the search committee that unanimously chose Joe's. The restaurant takes the place of the Whole Earth, which closed in the summer of 2002 due to financial difficulties.

"He makes the absolute best vegan pizza I've ever had in my life," said Schmitz. She was initially concerned that Joe's might be too mainstream, but changed her mind after the committee visited Joe's, at 736 Water Street in Santa Cruz.

Reasonable prices, a customer-oriented approach, and financial stability were other considerations for the committee, Schmitz said. Committee members included undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and administrative representatives. The restaurant is part of the Graduate Student Commons.

Known by customers for his personal touch, Hammana said "the smile is always there" and that he does whatever he can to keep customers happy. He and his wife, Georgette, who creates many of the recipes at Joe's, will continue to operate the Water Street restaurant.

Hammana has many student customers at his current location, and anticipates no problem satisfying student tastes. "Anyone who comes in here, he's hooked," Hammana said. He joked that students may miss their parents' love while away at college, but if they eat at Joe's, they won't miss their parents' cooking.

The Hammanas have plenty of experience in the business. They have been at the Water Street location since 1986, and worked in the Hammana family restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon, before moving to the United States.

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