Mall Rats' New Role Model: TeachBar

TeachBar owner wins contest -- and students' minds

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    TeachBar
    A new tutoring center opens in the East Bay's Bayfair Center.

    Bayfair Center in San Leandro has what every teen would want.

    It's a mall with the latest Air Jordans, smoothies ... and TeachBar, a new tutoring center.

    Ben Wanzo, a math whiz with degrees from Berkeley and Stanford, knew he would have a captive audience by setting up shop in the mall.

    He won a contest beating out 60 other people for space in the mall to be used for an innovative purpose. The spot sat empty for years and used to be a Ritz Camera shop.

    He presented the best idea for a community business, earning subsidized rent for a year and a built-out store.

    The competition was tough but he told us humbly, "I did my MBA analysis of all the entries and I picked mine."

    So did the judges.

    TeachBar is modern and sleek, a sort of Starbucks meets the Apple Store look. The walls are all dry-erase boards filled with quotes from the famous and perhaps the soon-to-be famous. Students walk around with fat pens, solving problems and thinking up quotes.

    In the day, anyone can come in have some tea and open your laptop and stay a while. After school, students come in for tutoring from Wanzo and a small staff.

    His business is aimed at the underserved communities which surround Bayfair Center, and the lessons are mind-boggling.

    He quickly gets students up to speed on algebra and calculus. And unlike more mainstream tutoring centers, he keeps it affordable.

    Students we talked with like the free-flowing nature of the place.

    One student told us he learns so much because it's ok to ask questions over and over again.

    He said at school teachers often have too much on their plates with so many students.

    Here it's one on one, and Wanzo loves to talk math.

    If you are at Bayfair, stop by have some tea -- and learn something.