DENVER — As Americans we like to pride ourselves on the free market, on the spirit of competition and our ability to come up from nothing. A neighborhood dispute in Denver seems to be challenging these very concepts.
The eatery says problems started almost immediately after moving in a year-and-a-half ago.
At Skoops Eatery, you’ll find sandwiches, ice cream and cola—but not a single cup of coffee.
Coffee is prohibited in their three-page lease—so they don’t compete with nearby Dazbog Coffee.
Skoops owner, Tim Hamann, said their landlord, Chris Vassos, then started restricting what they could serve—allegedly because of complaints coming from Dazbog’s owners.
The lease mushroomed from three pages to 15.
“We started serving breakfast. We can’t serve breakfast. Then, then it was, ‘You can’t serve tea. You can’t do this. You can’t do that,’” said Hamann.
He said Vassos grew tired of all the complaints from Dazbog. “One of our last interactions with him (Vassos), verbally, was ‘I need them.’ So, he’s pushing us out,” said Hamann.
That means their lease is up at the end of December—and their dream of expanding into the space next door is gone.
“I have nothing to do with the lease. I don’t own the building. I’m just trying to run my business,” said Dazbog Franchisee Vince Verdecchio.
He said Skoops owners blame him for losing their lease.
“I wish I was that powerful,” he said.
He claims he’s done nothing to them. “We’ve been nothing but their friends,” he said.
But Hamann said, “One word has never been spoken with the owners of the coffee shop. If we address them on the streets, out on the sidewalks, we say ‘Hello.’ They look the other way.”
Verdecchio says he has no problem with Skoops.
“As long as they don’t compete with me, we’re good,” he said.
But Skoops owners don’t believe that.
They do believe the free market would have determined the winners and losers—not just a landlord.
“What we do. What they do are two different things and there’s no need for bullying,” said Hamann.
Hamann said he’ll miss Skoops’ customers—but not the conflict.
“We’re a small business trying to make a go at it, and we’re going to do it. We’re going to survive. But it’s just going to have to be at a different location,” he said.
They hope to find a location that is nearby.
Vassos did not return our phone call for a comment.