Kristy Gonzales, owner of A Cup of Joe coffee shop, has been locked out of the Artspace Rubber Co. building and she's not sure if she wants back in.
Gonzales was evicted Saturday morning from the building at 353 W. 200 South following a rent dispute with Evergreene Management Group.
Gonzales, who's owned and operated the coffeehouse and community gathering place since December 2006, fell behind on her rent following slow sales in March and April a lull she partially attributes to an economic downturn that has potential patrons tightening their purse strings.
She also heaps blame on Evergreene for being unsympathetic to her situation and unwilling to work with her when times turned tough.
Evergreene chief executive officer Peter Cooke disputes those claims, saying the management company worked with A Cup of Joe to find a solution for nearly three months before legal action was taken.
"We want A Cup of Joe there," Cooke said. "We just can't subsidize them."
Money for the back rent more than $9,300 was paid last week to the court, said Gonzales' attorney, Kent Fillmore. The attorney contends that a clerical error by the court allowed Evergreene's attorneys to obtain a 72-hour eviction after the money was paid.
"We've been trying hard to work something out," Fillmore said, "but I'm having a little trouble getting in touch with (Evergreene's) lawyers."
Full payment of the back rent will allow Gonzales to resume her businesses in the Rubber Co. building, said Jessica Norie, executive director of Artspace, the nonprofit organization that owns the building.
That means Gonzales should be able to return, but she's not sure that's what she wants to do.
"I've just got a big, bad taste in my mouth," she said. "It may be time to move on."
Gonzales is looking into moving her business elsewhere in Salt Lake City. Musical performances and poetry readings previously planned for A Cup of Joe already have been moved at least temporarily to Baxter's Cafe, 1615 S. State. Local poets who regularly perform at A Cup of Joe gathered outside the coffeehouse Saturday night to protest the shop's closing.
Baxter's Cafe is a possible relocation site, but it's not the only one, Gonzales said. The Artspace building likely will remain an option until Aug. 18, when the eviction issue returns to court.
Fillmore is advising against A Cup of Joe relocating until the issue is resolved in the courts.
"She'd be taking a huge loss," he said of Gonzales. "She'd be losing out on the business she'd established at that location."
Gonzales also has equipment locked in the building, which a new owner could end up with, he said.
"The value of the equipment is far in excess of what she owed," Fillmore said.
Attorneys for Evergreene Management did not return phone calls seeking comment.
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