Guest commentary: Landlords put Paradise at disadvantage
Editor’s note: The following commentary is in response to a guest column that originally appeared Tuesday in the Aspen Daily News. The same column, written by Lex Tarumianz, is running in today’s Aspen Times.
I was saddened yet not surprised at reading Lex Tarumianz’s commentary in Tuesday’s paper regarding Paradise Bakery. I am not a big fan of airing out private matters publicly, but I feel in this case that our integrity, reputation and intelligence are being challenged. I will try to set the record that Lex was attempting to do straight.
Lex did notify us several years ago that they were not looking at renewing our lease because Loro Piana wanted more space and was threatening to leave. After that conversation we had several other meetings trying to find ways to keep the corner.
They did offer us P.E. 101 space, which is oddly configured and smaller than our current space. So to get more square footage, they added a long, narrow section at the back of P.E. 101. We have designed over 100 locations, many in small spaces, and we did our best to make this option work. The bottom line is that it was an unusable space offered to us, and we had no option but to turn it down.
By November, my brother Mark and I decided to take one more try at saving our space. This time we met with landlord Andy Hecht and Lex. It became apparent in that meeting that the deal with Loro Piana was done. So I asked Andy, “Are they going to do the little coffee presentation in their store that you mentioned?” Andy said, “We have required them to do an upscale ice cream, bakery, coffee presentation.”
We were beyond flabbergasted. This was the first mention we had ever heard of this. I repeated back to Andy, “So as a longtime local landlord in the community, you are terminating the lease of two longtime locals in favor of a large international tenant and adding the current use in our space that we have built our reputation on for the past 40 years, by adding a direct competitor into the space. And our choice is to close or go to a secondary location and reinvest to compete with this new tenant?”
He said “yes” and added something about a business decision. It was a few days later that we learned from Lex that they had divided the corner into two separate leases with two separate names. Curious, what does that have to do with expanding Loro Piana’s retail?
The rest of Lex’s column about helping us find a new home, I will leave to others to evaluate its merit. The Isberian Rug location and an intro to two Aspen landlords?
I appreciate his closing remarks that he hopes in the end it will be a good solution for everyone.
But in reality, Paradise is forced to move to a new location and invest close to a million dollars, and then to compete with a direct competitor on the corner that we have built brand equity in for 40 years. If this is a positive solution, I must be missing something.
To put this to rest, Andy and his partners bought the building for a hefty price and they have total rights to do whatever they choose with it. They have made a decision and we have voiced our opinion as have many in the community. Now it is time to move on. Using Lex’s own words, there are times in business that you are confronted with tough business decisions and this is one of them. In my 50-year career, I found that often those tough business decisions are coupled with tough moral decisions — this is one of them. There is a choice.
We want to thank our guests from around the world and our community for all of the kind words and support that you have expressed on our behalf. It means the world to us and validates why we are here.
We also want to thank our current management Dyan and Tamara and all our employees over the years who have worked so hard to make Paradise a place worthy of these compliments. You are an exceptional group.
Our focus now is to get back to doing what we do best — serving our guests and the community with smiles and freshly prepared products. We are committed to making these last two years the best ever.
Our intention is to find a new home for the Paradise Corner. We are actively looking with optimism, but we are definitely up against the high costs of investment and the potential sales impact of our new competitor.
Thanks for being “cookie munchers.” We look forward to seeing you at the counter.
Danny Patterson is co-founder of Paradise Bakery and has been the company’s CEO for 43 years.
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