Beloved local restauranteur can't sell coffee or tea because Starbucks strongarmed the landlord


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/14/anodyne-spokespeople.html


#2

This is the sort of thing you resort to when you can’t compete on a level playing field. Starbucks does make pretty good coffee, but their retail presence jumped the shark a long time back.


#3

If the family owned coffee shop was there first…why should…sigh just corruption at work.


#4

Ah! Starbucks! Fine purveyors of a substance almost completely but not entirely unlike coffee.


#5

I feel guilty that I give so much business to Starbucks.

Sadly their wifi is fast (and doesn’t freak out when I use a VPN, which I’m encountering more and more often). And with the rewards membership, you get free refills.

(Which means you can buy the smallest, cheapest coffee and park for an afternoon to work… this works out to be cheaper per month than the price of a cell plan w/ tethering in my experience)

In general I’ll try to hit up local places but often when I’m travelling for work I don’t have time to find a shop on yelp, evaluate the seating and power offerings, and risk showing up to flaky wifi.

I kind of wish someone would make a database of study friendly independent shops.


#6

I don’t read this as them being there first. They want to change their type of business and, in a a shared building, needing to check this with the landlord seems reasonable to me.


#7

The restaurant could turn this into an opportunity where the patrons would BYOB (bring your own blend) and they would expertly prepare it for them, much like bars in some dry counties/states where liquor is tightly controlled.


#8

They don’t sell tea as far as I’m concerned. Undrinkable burnt leaf water is more like it.


#9

Boing Boing, I see what you did there with the Starbucks logo.
Approved.


#10

Honestly, based on how you describe your usage of Starbucks, I think you should stick to Starbucks if that is your usage and buying pattern. My guess is that does not do much to help Starbucks and I am not sure mom and pop shops want the “buy the smallest and park for an afternoon of free wifi” types.


#11

Yeah, I was thinking why not sell pastries and sandwiches and offer free coffee as a bonus?


#12

AFAIC everything they sell tastes like burnt toast.


#13

A Colombian restaurant that can’t serve coffee, my head asplode!

I don’t think these kind of non-compete lease clauses are that uncommon, but the landlord should be charging an f-ing huge premium for something general as coffee and tea.

i.e. you wouldn’t want to open a sports trading card shop and build it over years to where you’re drawing people from all over the city, only to have another one open right next door in the same building to steal your business. So you might pay extra for a non-compete clause in the lease.


#14

I’ve never even tried the tea there. The thought of it after sampling the coffee-adjacent-liquid was too shuddersome to contemplate.


#15

This is just the free market at work, the restaurant should stop complaining and become an enormous multinational corporation too.


#16

Very common type of clause in the commercial real estate field. I know, I worked in it. Similar concept to franchise territories and sales territories.


#17

This is fairly typical, and not just for big names like starbucks. Many if not most commercial landlords have non-compete clauses in their retail leases, regardless of whether the tenants are mom-and-pop shops or giant chains. My sister-in-law owns a small town cafe and in their old space there was a convenience store, a locally owned chinese fast food place, and a locally owned nail salon. All of them were protected against competition in their primary business, which means the landlord could not have rented space to starbucks after the Chinese restaurant closed. A friend of mine lived by a french bakery which could not serve pastries for on-site consumption because there was a indie coffee shop next door.


#18

Those kinds of clauses are fairly standard. But it is really unusual for it to be restricted to a specific product rather than a type of establishment. Preventing another coffee shop from opening seems reasonable. Outright banning coffee and tea does not. That would be like someone banning Coke or Pepsi.

Is it in the restaurant’s lease that they can’t sell them? If not, I’d tell the landlord to take a hike and start scouting for a new location in advance of the lease running out. If it is in the lease, then it’s their fault for not reading it thoroughly.


#19

Maybe they could add a unique selling point to their coffee to make it unlike Starbucks’ product; like “quality” or “the willingness to pay corporate tax”?


#20

How was the landlord strongarmed? You can’t include that in the headline and then leave out the details! Did they threaten the landlord with violence? Do they have incriminating photos? Did they threaten his family?