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Best of 2000: Best Courthouse Eatery

South Bay Regional Center Cafeteria
Inside South Bay County Regional Center, 500 Third Avenue, Chula Vista
(619) 691-4599

"Gracious Guests: We are pleased that you chose our cafeteria to serve you." It's not what you expect in the dour halls of justice. But here in Chula Vista, Ben Riddell has created a little garden of eatin'. Yes, you have to empty your pockets and take off your belt to get in through security. On a typical day, for $3.97, Ben has roast pork or meat loaf or roast turkey or chicken pot pie or lemon chicken, each with potatoes, vegetables, and bread and butter. You might be chowing down among worried groups of litigants, but who could resist salad from the bar at 20 cents an ounce, a baked potato with sour cream and cheese for $1.40, or a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread for $2.99? Ben sits at the cashier's desk, where an electronic voice reads out the prices. Ben is legally blind. He's from Algeria. He used to work for the United States Information Service in Rabat in Morocco. "I'd take out American propaganda -- books, films -- to Berber villages in the Atlas mountains." Now he checks out food bargains at places such as Albertsons and Super Saver. "Anywhere, so I can pass on the savings to my customers. I have many judges, lawyers, loyal clients," he says.

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South Bay Regional Center Cafeteria
Inside South Bay County Regional Center, 500 Third Avenue, Chula Vista
(619) 691-4599

"Gracious Guests: We are pleased that you chose our cafeteria to serve you." It's not what you expect in the dour halls of justice. But here in Chula Vista, Ben Riddell has created a little garden of eatin'. Yes, you have to empty your pockets and take off your belt to get in through security. On a typical day, for $3.97, Ben has roast pork or meat loaf or roast turkey or chicken pot pie or lemon chicken, each with potatoes, vegetables, and bread and butter. You might be chowing down among worried groups of litigants, but who could resist salad from the bar at 20 cents an ounce, a baked potato with sour cream and cheese for $1.40, or a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread for $2.99? Ben sits at the cashier's desk, where an electronic voice reads out the prices. Ben is legally blind. He's from Algeria. He used to work for the United States Information Service in Rabat in Morocco. "I'd take out American propaganda -- books, films -- to Berber villages in the Atlas mountains." Now he checks out food bargains at places such as Albertsons and Super Saver. "Anywhere, so I can pass on the savings to my customers. I have many judges, lawyers, loyal clients," he says.

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