Every day, Salah “Sal” Sanid opens at 8 a.m. and doesn’t close his store until 10 p.m. The business provides for his sons, who all attend Calaveras Unified School District schools, his 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and wife. Sanid, father of five, and owner of Valley Springs Dollar Plus, is taking another big leap into the restaurant business.
But an issue with permitting might put the project in jeopardy.
In 2016, a permit was issued by the Calaveras Building Department for a deli in the Dollar Plus, also known as “the variety store” to locals. This year, Sanid began reworking his store to fit the new Hawaiian cuisine restaurant.
New furnishings were added such as tile flooring, granite tops, an air hockey table, pool table and a pizza oven.
The setup of Hapa’s Bistro Hawaiian-themed food is near completion. Sanid’s expansion project has been stalled by the lack of a permit for the new/old space.
“I added … to the new drawing and (the Building Department) said they’re not satisfied with this. They said, ‘We need you to hire an engineer that can do an official one.’ And you know, the guys who do this, they ask for $5,000 to do it the way they want it. And I don’t have the money to do it,” Sanid said. The health department has already given the OK, but without a new permit, Sanid could be out almost $50,000 for Hapa’s Bistro.
The name Hapa’s was derived from a concept that means “half-Hawaiian, half-others.” He chose Hawaiian food to add more options to Valley Springs, which currently offers Thai, Chinese, Mongolian, Mexican and more restaurants.
Sanid has had to find creative ways to deal with his competitors.
“I need to open because I’m hurt with Dollar General.” Sanid said.
In the past, the variety store sold party supplies; Dollar General now carries similar merchandise, which forces Sanid to change inventory and think of new ways to bring in local customers. He regrets that he is unable to get a liquor license for his store, as he is sure more travelers would buy from him.
The majority of business comes from tourists heading to Big Trees and Murphys. Decades ago, Valley Springs Dollar Plus was the largest store in town and people still remember it as the place to grab a bite to eat with the family before reaching their destination.
“I decided to open a full restaurant because we have a lot of people coming from Highway 12, and we’re the first store they see. They think there’s food in here because they remember the store that used to have food. You know, like years ago.” Sanid said.
On top of attracting tourists back to his store, Sanid hopes to create a place for families in Valley Springs, specifically, for those who walk everywhere. He claims that most kids don’t have a place to hang out on his side of the road near Valley Springs Elementary. The majority of young people will hang out at Round Table or Pizza Factory. The attraction Sanid has begun to build is not about offering lower prices or more impressive games, it is all about being in walking distance for the neighborhood.
“I just hope (the Building Department) let me open. I have five kids; that’s the only income they have. If I don’t do good that means I’m going to lose my business, and I don’t have a way to support my kids. I’m paying my mortgage, for the store and the house so it’s kinda hard,” Sanid said.