Posted by: ppernick | March 10, 2006

Caffeine Clash

When I heard that there were plans for a Starbucks to be part of the new supermarket in our neighborhood, I wondered what that would do for the current local coffee shop, Bibo.  I expected some people to defect, but hoped that many would prefer (like me) a local place over a national chain.

Well, regardless of what the patrons want (and I have no clue what that is), the owners of Bibo have a hearing today in King County Superior Court to decide the fate of the Starbucks arrival.  Last fall, Bibo sued their landlord for fraud and breach of contract.

According to the article, the lease included the following clause:

“Landlord shall not lease space in premises that it owns at Snoqualmie Ridge, other than as part of any future grocery store development, to a full-service coffee shop.”

The article argues that the term “development” is the key word in the case.  However, what stops me is that entire phrase “other than as part of any future grocery store development”.  The way I would understand it — the landlord couldn’t lease a space to a Starbucks stand-alone building, but as long as the coffee shop was part of the grocery store, it would still fit within the lease.

The article continues to note that Bibo owners were enticed with the idea of no competition for awhile, but the wording in the article leads me to believe that the landlord was just using slippery language

“…persuaded them to sign the lease, assuring them that the only other coffee shop in the reatail plaza would be located in a grocery store…”

Now-a-days, almost all supermarkets (at least new ones) have a full-service coffee shop attached.  Just because the only other coffee shop would be in the grocery store, does not necessarily guarantee it’s just a coffee counter.

Regardless of the outcome, I hope we don’t lose Bibo – especially to a chain – and that they continue to have a loyal customer base from our community.

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