Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 6, 2019 to reflect the correct spelling of CopenRoss Growlers. It was updated again on Aug. 7 with comment from Albertsons.
BOISE — A new bakery and a growler shop that share a Boise shopping center with Albertsons are being sued by the large grocery company.
Albertsons executives filed the suit July 30 claiming the shops are violating an exclusive use lease agreement and hurting Albertsons’ business.
At the core of the suit is the shopping center in the 5100 block of Overland Road in Boise. An Albertsons grocery store is located there, and has been for decades. The same shopping center hosts CopenRoss Growlers, also known as Tailgate Growlers in the lawsuit.
Since April, the shopping center has also housed Granny C’s Bakery, which Meridian businessman Brad deBoer opened with his wife and daughter, a pastry chef.
Albertsons officials say both businesses are violating the lease agreement the company has with the property owner, FPA Shoppes at Hillcrest, LLC. Under that lease agreement, no other portion of the shopping center can be used as a supermarket or “as a bakery or delicatessen; for the sale of fresh or frozen meat, fish, poultry or produce for off-premise consumption; or for the sale of alcohol for off-premise consumption.”
Granny C’s Bakery is just that — a bakery. And CopenRoss Growlers sells alcohol for off-premise consumption. Albertsons sells both alcohol and baked goods.
The lawsuit is against both businesses and FPA Shoppes at Hillcrest, because the company leased the space. Albertsons officials are asking for the court to order the businesses stop selling alcohol that can be consumed off the premises, and stop selling baked goods, because both of those actions violate the lease agreement, according to the lawsuit.
“As a direct result of FPA’s breach of the lease, Albertsons has suffered damages, including lost profits,” according to the civil complaint.
DeBoer said he received notice of the suit late on the night of July 30. He didn’t think his 1,650-square-foot shop violated the lease.
DeBoer shared an image of his lease with the Idaho Press. Allowed sales include donuts, take-and-bake pizza, coffee, ice cream, candy and — for on-premise consumption — pastries and sandwiches, so long as the store is under 2,000 square feet, according to the lease.
Granny C’s Bakery is smaller than that and has enough tables and chairs for about 30 people to sit and eat, deBoer said.
CopenRoss Growlers is closed on Mondays, according to its online schedule. A call to the business went unanswered. Michael Earl, who is listed in court documents as the manager for FPA Shoppes at Hillcrest, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Albertsons hired Boise-based law firm Hawley, Troxell, Ennis & Hawley to represent the company. The Idaho Press called the law firm and spoke with employees who forwarded a message to the attorney listed on court documents. He did not return the call by Monday evening.
Albertsons Companies sent a statement to the Idaho Press Wednesday, saying the issue is not about neighboring businesses at shopping centers — which "can help communities thrive" — but with the "landlord's failure to follow the agreed-upon restrictions."
Shopping centers, like homeowners associations, are governed by covenants to protect the value of each business, according to the statement, emailed by Chris Wilcox, communications vice president.
"Typically, shopping center businesses have mutual interests and all can benefit from their neighbors, and our team works hard to ensure we are a good neighbor," the statement reads.
According to the suit, Albertsons officials told FPA Shoppes at Hillcrest about the alleged breach in the lease in April and in June.
The lawsuit claims the bakery and growler shop have caused Albertsons to lose money and have damaged the store’s relationship with its customers, the lawsuit claims.
“If we’re stealing their business, they’ve got problems,” deBoer said. Albertsons companywide brought in $60.5 billion in revenue last fiscal year, according to GlobeNewswire.
The first time the family heard there might be problems with Albertsons was in mid-June, he said. The property owner had yet to approve a sign for the bakery, but Granny C’s Bakery did have a flag outside. DeBoer said he was told to take the flag down, which he did.
He said in mid-June he’d also been told his company couldn’t sell bread, so they stopped selling bread. They might not be able to sell cupcakes either. Attorneys were still examining that issue, he said.
DeBoer said he opened the business because his daughter wanted to bake pastries, and because, at 61, he wanted something to do when he retired from his career as a real estate agent — although he said he might not be able to retire when he planned to now.
He’s also a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, so serving food isn’t new for him.
“Our goal was just to provide fresh baked goods to people here in Boise,” deBoer said. “Everything we make is from scratch.”
The case doesn’t have a court date yet.