Part of the Bay Area News Group

Fremont story makes Page 1 of New York Times

By Matt Artz
Monday, August 31st, 2009 at 12:10 pm in Uncategorized.

And it has nothing to do with NUMMI or baseball. It’s about old immigrants, and it’s a good read. Click here to check it out.

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  • Rick Muncie

    “A generation ago, Fremont was 76 percent Caucasian. Today, nearly one-half of its residents are Asian, 14 percent are Latino and it is home to one of the country’s largest groups of Afghan refugees (it was a setting for the best-selling book “The Kite Runner”). ”

    Let’s not kid ourselves. This is the reason why Cattlemens and Black Angus left. It’s also why mom and pop places serving “American” food have a tough time in this area. I’m still mad that (indian owned) SFO Bar & Grill had to close all of its locations because not enough people here want deep dish pizza.

    Remember the BBQ place connected to the Shell gas station on Auto Mall Pkwy near Pacific Commons? That too was indian owned, but not enough wanted BBQ. So now it’s “Tandoori Palace” or something like that.

    I am of Indian descent (my parents moved here before the Indian rush, and my aunt/uncle moved here in the early 70′s), I don’t mind the change in demographics, but what I do mind is that the change in demographics means no more good steakhouses, but plenty (too many!) of places for tandoori chicken, tapioca drinks, taquerias, and sushi.

  • Andy

    Rick, its a free country. You can move elsewhere if you are not happy with Fremont.

    As you pointed out, yes demographics maybe one factor into those places going out of business. There is another reason that Fremont does not have anything that pulls people from other cities. Union city does a far better job at it. For pacific commons to be succesfull, it badly needs a entertainment center.

    Fremont’s demographics are the reason why it rakes in higher property taxes than Newark, UC, also the reason why its schools are way better and the city’s crime is lower.

  • Marty

    Christ, Andy. Rick was only commenting on what there used to be and he wishes there were more of.

    It’s kind of like ‘Lifer and Perry reminisce about stage coaches and Shirley Temple movies.

  • Rick Muncie

    Thanks Marty. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting Fremont and the tri-city area to have real diversity in food, i.e. a good healthy mix of all kinds of restaurants to serve everyone. Right now steakhouses are getting the short end of the stick. Excuse me for wanting Cattlemens to be here and not move to Livermore (closest Cattlemens now that Newark’s is closed), which is totally lacking diversity.

  • Ashley Butler

    Nothing says diversity like Cattlemen’s.

  • Irvington

    Who in their right mind would get their BBQ from a place that was attached to a Shell station? Yikes – gives me visions of the last wrinkled hot dog left on the merry-go-round at the Quickie Mart. Maybe it wasn’t that people didn’t want BBQ, it was the unfortunate location.

  • FremontGuy

    yikes Rick….maybe instead of getting gas and then BBQ it was the other way around, therefore it closed! Ha, couldn’t resist.

    Ashley, loved your comment, too funny.

    I’m of Indian descent too, (native american indian) and I’m pissed that I can’t get a good buffalo burger around here… what has this town come to!
    ;-)

  • Andy

    Rick

    <I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting Fremont and the tri-city area to have real diversity in food, i.e. a good healthy mix of all kinds of restaurants to serve everyone

    Sure, I would love diversity too. But it doesnt make business sense in fremont. You just said these places are going out of business. How do you propose to solve it? Maybe the govt bail out these places. Instead of worrying about things that cannot be solved, how about trying to voice opinion on things that can be…

  • Marty

    Cattlemen’s and Black Angus were dated – I believe that is why they failed, not necessarily because the style of food has been outmoded. I am guessing Outback does ok, partly because it is a ‘fresher’ place to eat.

    But, to those harping on Rick for his benign request for more traditional American food, consider that the very reason no out-of-towner in their right mind will visit Fremont for a night out to eat is because Fremont is a sea of homogeneous suburban quality ethnic eateries with the same style and experience that’s repeated from strip mall to strip mall across the entire city.

    And, I blame the lack of diversity on those who make up the shifting demographic. They simply don’t like to experience different things like most do in the Bay Area.

    In that respect, I’m not so sure Ashley understands the meaning of diversity.

  • Rick Muncie

    Marty, GREAT post.

    “because Fremont is a sea of homogeneous suburban quality ethnic eateries with the same style and experience that’s repeated from strip mall to strip mall across the entire city.”

    Other parts of the Bay Area are ethnically diverse, but the food is much more diverse than Fremont.

    “And, I blame the lack of diversity on those who make up the shifting demographic. They simply don’t like to experience different things like most do in the Bay Area.”

    Again, you are right on.

    “Cattlemen’s and Black Angus were dated – I believe that is why they failed, not necessarily because the style of food has been outmoded. I am guessing Outback does ok, partly because it is a ‘fresher’ place to eat.”

    Yes, plenty of asians, hispanics, etc go to Outback. And Texas Roadhouse in UC. But I wonder if these groups can’t appreciate more of a real steakhouse, like Black Angus and especially Cattlemens. If you go back and read articles about the closing of Newark Cattlemens, you will see that there are quotes from Cattlemens mgmt saying that it was the worst performing location for a while. Something like this decade. That makes me think the changing demographic in the tri-city area had EVERYTHING to do with the demise of Cattlemens in Newark.

    “Nothing says diversity like Cattlemen’s.”

    Ashley, you don’t get it. When Cattlemens was open in Newark, that intersection of Newark and Jarvis was diversity at its best. In a quarter square mile radius, you could get: sushi (4 different places in that small area), thai food, I think vietnamese, chinese, filipino, pizza, taquerias (more than one), IHOP, Dino’s Grill (nothing like Dino’s in fremont, but still), several fast food locales, and oh yeah, a classic steakhouse called Cattlemens. Taking Cattlemens out of that area changes up the make up. Besides, thanks for ignoring my point that diversity includes ALL kinds of food. If your whole area only has foods from all over Asia, and not all over the world, it’s not very diverse and you know it.

  • Rick Muncie

    “Who in their right mind would get their BBQ from a place that was attached to a Shell station?”

    It was actually a pretty decent place, considering this is not a region for BBQ like Texas, KC, Memphis, etc. I could ask the same question,

    Who in their right mind would get Indian food from a place that was attached to a Shell station? Who the hell wants to open up yet another sub-par Indian restaurant in Fremont?

  • Tony

    So i’m guessing these elderly immigrants who are collecting SSI have contributed to the system and are NOT getting a free ride?

  • Jen

    Tony,

    Yes, of course. They have all been here for years, speak English and held jobs at which they paid into the system in order to receive benefits in their retirements.

  • anon

    I disagree with Jen on the account that they’d all paid into the system in order to received benefits. The benefits are more than just SSI. The truth is if they have green cards or probably even just a tax ID number, they could go apply Medicaid and enjoying medical benefits and more, some take advantage of affordable housing for seniors. I’m an naturalized citizen myself, one parent of our families elected to have a green card and the rest stayed overseas and don’t want to come for long. I know the above through the parent who had a green card and befriended with some seniors around. That parent of us decided to give up green card and went back overseas. I truly would love to see everyone gets every benefits including health care, for free, but, can we afford it?

  • Jen

    Anon-

    I was being sarcastic.

    My point was that they did NOT speak English and did NOT pay into the system or pay taxes of any kind. Yet, they are making sure to collect benefits from the government (that most people I know that have applied for them have to fight like h*ll for, like my Army veteran father).

    Maybe my sarcasm in response to Tony’s sarcasm was confusing…

  • Irvington

    Look, food service is a market place, just like selling tires or pet supplies. People vote with their dollars and the businesses that have the right combination of location, quality, service and luck survive. It’s not always fair, but it’s the way the market works.

    BTW, what’s exotic about a steak and a baked potato?

    None of this has much to do with the topic of the original article, which was an interesting commentary on how other cultures treat their aging family members and how that relationship can change, and not necessarily in a good way, with “Americanization”. Getting old is hard enough; this is very sad.

    For what it’s worth, Snopes says that the issue of Social Security for illegal aliens is “mostly false”,

    “On May 25, 2006, the U.S. Senate, by a 62-36 bipartisan vote, passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (CIRA) – a controversial bill which proponents touted as providing comprehensive and humane immigration reform, and which opponents criticized as unfairly rewarding illegal aliens by allowing them to obtain legal status.

    On May 18, 2006, . . . Senator John Ensign of Nevada proposed an amendment to the bill to ‘ensure that persons who receive an adjustment of status under CIRA are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.’

    In a nutshell, the amendment reference above wasn’t about ‘giving illegal aliens Social Security benefits’; it was about whether formerly illegal aliens (who had since become legal) should be credited for monies they themselves had paid into the Social Security fund while they were in the U.S. Illegally.”

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/socialsecurity.asp

  • Jen

    I wasn’t disputing the point of whether they came here legally or not.

    The article specifically mentioned one person who was sponsored by their child once their child had immigrated to the U.S.

    My point was that I found it a bit predatory for them to waste no time in collecting benefits from this government when a majority of their lives had been spent living under another one.

  • AnotherFremontGuy

    It probably all evens out. Those whinging about seniors from other countries collecting SSI benefits here ignore the legions of H1-B workers who pay SS tax and medicaid tax and then go back to their respective countries (which, lately, is quite a significant number). Plus there are floods of first gen immigrants now going back to China and India after working here for a decade or more. Will they make use of all the tax money they pumped in? Unless the math shows which way the scales tip, just fixating on one aspect of it is a bit misguided.

    As far as the restaurant scene goes, Fremont needs to get its act together and create a central downtown with a good eating scene, like Murphy St. in Sunnyvale, or Castro in Mtn View, or University in Palo Alto. For the fourth largest city in the bay area, the fine dining options here are pathetic. Blaming this on the demographic is a bit laughable. Especially since a Hooters did open up on Mowry a couple of years ago. I hear that’s really popular with all the recent Asian immigrants with kids and grandparents in tow.

    In fact, the demographics should support a proper eating scene since I doubt the demographics of Sunnyvale are much different. The sad fact is that there aren’t even any memorable Indian restaurants in Fremont, nothing to compare to Dasaprakash, or Amber, or Turmeric, Passage to India, or the old Gaylords. And certainly nothing to compare with anything in SF. As a Niles resident, my fantasy is to see the Niles downtown become the dining scene, with Il Porcino, Kinaree, Papillion, Salang Pass, the Persian place in mission valley shopping center, India bar and grill etc. all in one place…

    The loss of Angus and Cattlemens might be demographic related. I am a vegetarian for one, and so might be many of my fellow immigrants. It could also be health related. Didn’t “Men’s health magazine” vote Fremont to be one of the healthiest cities a few years ago?

  • Tony

    The Days of the steak houses are gone my friends.. replaced with names that I can not pronounce- but I try. I’m not one for Persian food.. I’m a steak,chicken & potato kind of a guy with some veggies thrown in.

    Btw, What about the Mexican food? shouldn’t that be included? Heck, they been here longer than all Persian places.

  • AnotherFremontGuy

    “Btw, What about the Mexican food? shouldn’t that be included? Heck, they been here longer than all Persian places.”

    Definitely. In my Niles fantasy, a good Mexican place would also be a must, although I can’t think of one I really like in Fremont, other than Chipotle or that one in the Raley’s plaza.

  • Rick Muncie

    “Definitely. In my Niles fantasy, a good Mexican place would also be a must, although I can’t think of one I really like in Fremont, other than Chipotle or that one in the Raley’s plaza.”

    You don’t like ANY in Fremont? Obviously you can’t appreciate Taquerias, and perhaps don’t know what to order. There is nothing like a good taco: two 4″ CORN torillas with meat, onions, and cilantro. You hit up the salsa bar and squeeze tons of limes on it, as well as some salsa verde, or in some places (Los Portales in Newark) can also add Habenero salsa. On the side you partake in some pickled carrots and jalapenos. Mmm mmm mmm, and no fattening cheese, guac, or sour cream anywhere to be found.

    But yeah, why eat there when you can eat at Chipotle, right? Because Chipotle, with its **white rice** filled “burrito’s,” is so authentic??? ROFTLMAO

  • Rick Muncie

    I meant ROTFLMAO :-)

  • Marty

    I have to say, I’m teared up with pride for us Fremontians. The NYT publishes an article with an obvious premise: Old people travel 5000 miles and 2 worlds away from home and they have a hard time getting along, and (gasp) their kids don’t want them living with them, and we respond to the uninspiring thesis by arguing about food.

  • Tony

    I have lived in the tri-city area(that’s Newark-Fremont-Union city for you new immigrants)my whole 45 yrs of life and seen so many changes.. some good and some bad.

    The biggest changes is the faces of the area.. especially in Fremont..wow!!!

    Niles is a historical town and it should be kept as such. It has always had it’s own identity separate from the rest of Fremont.

  • Bruce

    I like talking about food, but to address the story about parents being cast out… most of the families on my block that are recent immigrants have one or more grandparents at home. They have a great social life and are nice to have around the block.

    Some of them have pretty amazing life stories. One of our friend’s parents were both professors of mechanical engineering in China… They speak Russian better than English. In the Cultural Revolution, they were shipped out to western China (Xian?) and put to work training mechanics on tractor repair. Now they are living in suburban America and helping their grandkids grow up here.

    I realize some families have problems and need intervention, but the families that have grandparents with them are definitely an asset to our neighborhood.

  • Jen

    AnotherFremontGuy
    “It probably all evens out. Those whinging about seniors from other countries collecting SSI benefits here ignore the legions of H1-B workers who pay SS tax and medicaid tax and then go back to their respective countries (which, lately, is quite a significant number). Plus there are floods of first gen immigrants now going back to China and India after working here for a decade or more. Will they make use of all the tax money they pumped in? Unless the math shows which way the scales tip, just fixating on one aspect of it is a bit misguided.”

    I think they did take advantage of the tax dollars they pumped in didn’t they? They drove on the roads, perhaps sent their kids to the local school. The vastly superior salary they earned while here certainly made up for any tax dollars which they were not able to see returned to them in the form of services received from the U.S. government.

    It seems to be a problem of assimilation. These immigrants assimilate just enough to adopt our unfortuate attitude towards our elders, but not enough to fully integrate. My son actually goes to school with children who were born here, but are having language and behavior problems because they speak virtually no English at home and are having issues communicating.

  • AnotherFremontGuy

    “I think they did take advantage of the tax dollars they pumped in didn’t they? They drove on the roads, perhaps sent their kids to the local school. The vastly superior salary they earned while here certainly made up for any tax dollars which they were not able to see returned to them in the form of services received from the U.S. government.”

    You are conflating ordinary taxes and SS and Medicare taxes. Many young workers who go back to their home countries will have paid both types but not reap the benefits of the SS and Medicare taxes they paid if they don’t stay here and retire. That’s the point.

    Basically, you have no clue how many of these senior immigrants are abusing the system (if any), and you don’t know what the balance sheet is.

    “It seems to be a problem of assimilation. These immigrants assimilate just enough to adopt our unfortuate attitude towards our elders, but not enough to fully integrate. My son actually goes to school with children who were born here, but are having language and behavior problems because they speak virtually no English at home and are having issues communicating.”

    I can’t think of any first-gen immigrants who completely assimilate anywhere. It’s a bit rich to think that someone who comes here as an adult from another place is going to completely lose that identity and start strutting around like a native born person. For the immigrants this story talks about, from Asia, I think the assimilation record is quite good for second generation onwards. The vast majority of native born Asian Americans seem as assimilated as anyone, and, incidentally, are the ones responsible for keeping the school API scores up, even if some start with language issues in kindergarten…

  • AnotherFremontGuy

    “You don’t like ANY in Fremont? Obviously you can’t appreciate Taquerias, and perhaps don’t know what to order. There is nothing like a good taco: two 4″ CORN torillas with meat, onions, and cilantro. You hit up the salsa bar and squeeze tons of limes on it, as well as some salsa verde, or in some places (Los Portales in Newark) can also add Habenero salsa. On the side you partake in some pickled carrots and jalapenos. Mmm mmm mmm, and no fattening cheese, guac, or sour cream anywhere to be found.

    But yeah, why eat there when you can eat at Chipotle, right? Because Chipotle, with its **white rice** filled “burrito’s,” is so authentic??? ROFTLMAO”

    You only named one. In Newark.

    You missed the fact that I am a vegetarian.

    I don’t particularly care about “authenticity”, especially if it means that there is a smell of raw meat (which is the case with most of the dingy “authentic” places, no offense); I want something that tastes good and is different, even if it’s only vaguely Mexican from an authenticity POV. I also don’t want to struggle with the order taker in trying to find out if they use lard or not. You might ROFTL*Y*AO (but be careful if you have had the beans!), but Chipotle does float my boat! And if I am going all the way to Newark, there’s always Chevy’s!

    Anyway, I will be happy to try out suggestions that fit the bill for me. I haven’t really found a stand out Mexican place in Fremont in the 9 years I have lived here (and, like I mentioned, no stand-out places in any type of cuisine compared to Berkeley, SF, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale etc.), but would be happy to be proven wrong.

  • Jane

    If their kids are having them come over to baby sit and then throwing them out on to the street after the grandkids are grown up, etc., then their kids should be made responsible for reimbursing the govt of SSI benefits, etc. After all, the kids are benefitting the most – free child care, free housekeeping, etc. The Federal govt, needs to enact laws that makes children such as these who sponsor their elderly parents responsible for their parents living expenses, end of story. The laws should clearly state that the parents have a right to claim from their children no matter what their age as long as they area above 21, and the parents are over 65, as long as they live in USA. There should be no statue of limitations applicable to this law since many parents live in fear of some kind of retaliation from these kids and also the sense of shame would initially prevent them from filing lawsuits against their own kids who are probably living the good life, driving BMWs, etc. while their parents are living in squolar with the govt supporting them through SSI payments.

  • Fremont Lifer

    “I can’t think of any first-gen immigrants who completely assimilate anywhere. It’s a bit rich to think that someone who comes here as an adult from another place is going to completely lose that identity and start strutting around like a native born person.”

    AnotherFremont, I hope that you’re not over-estimating the value of “complete assimilation”.

    For the record, I am not an immigrant. My family came to America in the 1640′s, and we have been in the Bay Area for many generations. However, as the demographics of this area have changed over the years, I have encountered many excellent qualities in the folks who have come here. While I’m sure these qualities largely stemmed from these people being good individuals, they could not have helped being influenced by the different cultures in which they were raised.

    Conversely, I have also encountered many “strutting” natural-born citizens who make me hang my head in shame.

    That’s the genius of America in the age of diversity. You can choose to maintain what you feel is important about your culture and leave behind any unfortunate influences. The days when you were stigmatized by your accent or your religion are fading with each new generation, and we’re a better place for it.

  • Rick Muncie

    “You missed the fact that I am a vegetarian.”

    Then, honestly, you have no business judging Mexican places since Mexican food includes meat in just about everything (good luck finding vegetarian Menudo, for example), and you know just as well as I do that Chipotle is not Mexican food, it’s Caucasian-American fast-casual.

    So please, enjoy your vegetarian food. Just don’t pretend that it’s Mexican or pretend that the tri-city area doesn’t have any good Mexican simply because you don’t eat a major component of Mexican cuisine.