Oakland merchants plan to strike, small businesses hurting due to crime

Oakland Vietnamese staple Le Cheval is closing its doors at the end of the month, citing crime is killing business. 

Meanwhile, Carl Chan, one of the most vocal advocates for small businesses, is coordinating with merchants all over Oakland to go on strike after Oakland failed to meet the deadline that would grant them state funding for retail crime.

"The customers are not coming," said Son Tran, owner of Le Cheval, who said the crime in Oakland is making his business suffer. "They love my food. They love the restaurant. They love my family, but it becomes costly for them," he said. "A $30-50 meal becomes $550 because of the deductible from the insurance company."

Tran said the car break-ins plaguing downtown Oakland are hurting customers and causing him to lose business, up to $25,000 over the last two months alone. 

Le Cheval has been serving Vietnamese cuisine for nearly four decades. 

"There are a lot of memories in this place," he said. 

"Every place I go, I talk to the business owners, restaurant owners, and they’re all feeling the same thing. They’re not feeling protected, and they don’t know what else to do," said loyal regular Phillip Newport.

Right now, Tran is looking at moving his restaurant out of Oakland. 

"This is my city. I love Oakland. I can’t live anywhere else," he said. "But I can’t do business in Oakland."

"To see and witness businesses like this close down one by one really strikes the morale, and feeling like we are alone," said Dr. Jennifer Tran, president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce.


Busy night as Oakland City Council OKs crime strategies while cops chase calls

At a marathon council meeting that went into Wednesday morning, Oakland city leaders approved a multifaceted crime prevention plan.

Tran, along with Carl Chan, former president of Chinatown’s Chamber of Commerce, said enough is enough.

"We missed the deadline," he said about the retail grant. "That’s a reality."

Chan said it’s time to move on and come up with solutions. 

"The priority now is public safety – together we can make another request. If the city cannot do it, the people together will make another request to our governor, our state, and even our county and federal levels to see if they can provide resources," he said.

He’s calling businesses to go on strike, demanding city leaders provide resources to merchants.

"We need protection," he said.

Tran said she’s stepping up herself, as she announces her run for Congress with intentions to address crime on small businesses.

"Quality of life begins with feeling safe," said Tran.

Chan told KTVU that the merchant strike is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26. He said he has many interested businesses that will participate. He asks participating businesses to strike for a minimum of two hours starting at 10 a.m. Some businesses will strike for the entire day.

KTVU was unable to immediately reach anyone with the City of Oakland for comment.