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Dish Dash brings a Taste of Downtown to USC

By Monk Turner
Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010, at 08:27AM
Gary Yao and Tracy Lawerence of Dish Dash Monk Turner [Flickr]

Gary Yao and Tracy Lawrence

Many USC students that are new to Los Angeles quickly find themselves trapped in a Trojan bubble. While Downtown L.A. is geographically close, without a car or a sense of where to go, Downtown can be rather intimidating to students.

A new website called Dish Dash LA aims to change that.

Started by current USC students Tracy Lawrence and Gary Yao, the website offers not only student discounts, but also foodie-inspired reviews and public transit information for the vehicularly-challenged.

“Students think of Downtown in two ways,” says Lawrence. “They think of it as financial and extremely expensive, or just ghetto and really dangerous; both of which are inaccessible. So we wanted to show the middle ground and the younger and trendier side of Downtown that has been brought up with Art Walk and a lot of the great restaurants Downtown.”

Lawrence, who is an L.A. native, spent much of her youth in Downtown. Her parents own a business in the Fashion District that was located above the Orpheum before the building was converted into lofts.

“My mom was always confused about why there would be lofts Downtown. I decided to explore that and with that I started to see the rise of really great restaurants and a different culture.”

Yao, who is Seattle transplant, was tired of hitting the USC food courts and decided to do something both native Angelenos and transplants can’t fathom and take the bus. He has made it his job to make sure bus routes are included on each restaurant profile.

But the duo knows that not all USC students are game to venture into the urban center just to grab a bite so they’ve sweetened the deal. Today they are hosting A Taste of Downtown L.A. in the McCarthy Quad with free food and swag from restaurants such as Cole’s, Bacaro LA, Morton’s, Starry Kitchen, Senor Fish and Homegirl Cafe.

“We want restaurants that are interested in reaching out to students.” explains Lawrence. “What we want to provide students is something beyond providing discounts to Subway. We want to give students the behind the screen experience. It’s great that they’re on Facebook and Dish Dash, but we want them getting out from behind the screen and eating at great restaurants.”

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