Students help small businesses thrive


Larissa Hageman

Located across the street from Lane, restaurants like Pi-Hi and Big Boys Gyros cater to students' needs.

By Larissa Hageman, Reporter

It would seem that any appetizing, reasonably priced fast-food restaurant or frozen yogurt shop would have guaranteed success being only blocks away from Lane, but this isn’t always the case.

Over the past two years, Noodles & Company, Hero’s Submarine Subway Shop and Trugurt Frozen Yogurt, Smoothies & Teas have all closed.

Located on Western Ave. in the small strip mall across from Lane is Pi-Hi Cafe, a family-owned business specializing in wood fire pizza, Mediterranean cuisine and paninis.

Although it is discreetly tucked between Big Boy’s Gyros and Tracy Nails, its fiery red and yellow sign pops out at you as you walk past.

Pi-Hi Cafe’s owner, Feris Zanyand, relies on Lane students for steady customers.

That’s like 50 percent of the business because we’re right across the street. So, we try to do our best for the students to be comfortable with our food and prices,” Zanyard said.

This is made evident through the “Student Specials” displayed on the blackboard next to the regular menu prices which include a water or iced coffee with an entree. These include a falafel bowl for $5, a chicken kabob bowl for $6, cheese pizza for $5.50, a chicken shawarma bowl for $7 and various paninis for $5.

“We try to make them happy,” Zanyard said.  “I know that they’re on a budget so we try to do our best to work on the price for them.”

Amanda Thorsberg, Div. 069, goes to Pi-Hi Cafe because of the warm atmosphere.

“It’s small but the ambiance of the lighting makes it really homey and cozy,” Thorsberg said. “I keep coming back because of the nice owners and quality service. The hospitality makes it more comfortable to go there.”

Waveland Bowl, located further up on Western, has been in the neighborhood for 59 years. The owner, Gary Handler, says that over the years, Waveland Bowl and Lane have evolved as prominent institutions in the neighborhood.

“Years ago, Lane had a bowling league here,” Handler said. “When there were fewer restaurant choices in the neighborhood, Lane kids would fill up the place [food court] at their lunch breaks.”

Currently, “On early dismissal days, we notice a lot of Lane kids in here bowling and we get some Lane gym classes to come here now which is great,” Handler said.

Waveland Bowl partners with the special education department at Lane which allows for students in the program to volunteer at the bowling alley, “a special education group of kids comes here and they do a little work-study type group for about a half hour,” Handler said. “They’re fairly, severely or moderately disabled and they do things like cleaning the ball returns and tables.”

Michael Wright, a manager at Pete’s Pizza, a pizza joint a couple of blocks away from Lane, has seen the restaurant undergo major changes.

“We’ve developed a long way. We’re remodeling the whole restaurant,” Wright said.

Despite being subject to the major struggles of being an independently owned business, Wright said that although he doesn’t own the restaurant, they do pretty well, as it is usually busy with customers.


MaryKate Sullivan, Div. 053, enjoys going to Pete’s Pizza, She likes to get the lunch special which includes a slice of pizza and a drink.

“It’s really good and you get a large amount for the price,” Sullivan said. She believes that these businesses do so well because of the positive relationships they’ve built with the students. “People want good affordable food and also want to help them out.”

Sullivan believes that small businesses around Lane impact the overall school community through contributing to the overall atmosphere.

“Small businesses are able to thrive because Lane is such a big school and is able to give them business, help them to succeed and spread information about these places.”