STOCKTON – Take away all of Stockton’s ills – the foreclosures, a homicide rate that surpasses that of Chicago and a city filing for bankruptcy – and you end up with a bustling and vibrant town with a lot to offer.
And there’s a reason for that.
Along Pacific Avenue sits a pair of linchpins that provide an influx of thousands of young people to the area.
Coffee shops are humming. Bars are packed on weekend nights. Small, independent restaurants have a built-in clientele as soon as they open.
The location of San Joaquin Delta College – with an enrollment of nearly 19,000 students – and the University of the Pacific, Stockton is a city with a dose of culture and luminosity that add flavor to the County seat and make it a place worth getting to know.
But where is it that those thousands of students pass the time between classes? Where do they blow off steam when they’ve wrapped up their finals, and where can they be found on a Thursday night when they don’t have class again until Monday?
It all depends on age, but most students at San Joaquin Delta College have a clear idea of how they like to unwind.
Here are a few examples of places that students hang out and chill:
•Sherwood Mall – Located just across the street from the Delta College campus, Andrew Brien says that the combination of department stores, shops and restaurants are an excellent way to kill time when he has a lull between classes. He can walk there, he says, and if he’s really bored he’ll head over to the Whimsy Arcade in the Weberstown Mall and burn through some quarters. The college is perfectly placed, he says.
•Barnes and Noble Booksellers – When it comes to finding a place to study or enjoy some time with friends, Jennifer Madrigal says that she just jumps across the street to the Barnes and Noble inside of the Sherwood Mall. Inside she’s free to read anything that she wants – which can be beneficial when it comes to schoolwork – is a place where she feels at home. It’s not the most exciting place to hang out, she says, but since she’s only 19 her options are pretty limited. Other places in Stockton that she remembers when she was younger like Naughty Nick’s don’t exist anymore, so she’s content with what she’s found.
•Empresso Coffeehouse – Located beneath the Empire Theater sign on the Miracle Mile, this independently-owned coffee shop is popular with students from both UOP and Delta because of its wide range of offerings and the fact that it’s an alternative to chain stores. Staffer Jay Levers said that they draw a lot of students who come in to both socialize and study because they like the laid back atmosphere and the general feel that the Miracle Mile brings. And size matters. “It’s a bigger place and we’re one of the last independent shops left in the Stockton area,” he said. “We try to provide good coffee and good customer service and offer something different that people can’t get elsewhere.”
•The Plea for Peace Center Stockton – Jose Barragan already has to make a long drive from his home in Calaveras County to Stockton to attend classes. So it only seems right that he’d get his entertainment while he’s down here as well. When he’s not studying or taking notes or tests, Barragan tries to get in as many punk shows at Stockton’s Plea for Peace Center as possible. The all-ages venue offers a wide range of music including rock, reggae, punk and hip hop as well as poetry readings – describing itself as an arts establishment.
•Tiger Yogurt – Blake Moore doesn’t necessarily fancy himself an ice cream eater. Spooning the ice cream out of the bowl, he says, is a pain, and if you don’t wash out the bowl the spoon gets stuck in a concrete-like mixture. But that doesn’t stop him from hitting up Tiger Yogurt whenever he has some spare time between work and class. Tucked away off of Pacific Avenue – making the spot almost a secret – the small haunt is a favorite of students from the University of the Pacific and longtime Stockton residents that know the seasonal schedule and make it a point to visit when their flavors are being offered. “There’s just something about it,” he said. “You can’t really eat frozen yogurt and study, but it’s definitely worth a try.”
•In Your Respective Hometown – Eddie Medina and Gabriel and Scott Pastor spend a fair amount of time in Stockton. They hang out in the quad between classes shooting the breeze. They’ll occasionally head across the street to visit the Sherwood Mall to kill some time. But for the most part, the trio likes to hang out back in their respective hometown where they feel the most comfortable – even if that means sacrificing the hustle and bustle and the unlimited options that Stockton provides when compared to Manteca. “Usually it’s just pretty much at home or at somebody’s house. I’m not really into going anywhere,” Medina said. “We’ll go to the movie theater a lot but we miss the old one. I went there one day and it was just gone.”
— JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter