Landlord signs deal with Starbucks, owner could lose Richmond cafe

- The owner of a Richmond cafe says he could lose his business after the landlord signed a deal with Starbucks to open a store next door.

Joseph Shahabi owns Cafe Pascal at Harbor Gate Shopping Center in Richmond's Marina Bay neighborhood. He has been serving up coffee and pastries since 2011.

"I was shocked. I was totally shocked beyond belief that they would do something like this behind my back." said Shahabi.

Shahabi says he learned of the Starbucks at a Planning Commission meeting. He says it's the latest in a series of difficulties he's had with the Harbor Shopping Center owner Ronald Nahas.

Shahabi says the deal Nahas signed with Starbucks bans any other business in the shopping center form serving coffee or pastries.

Shahabi says the landlord kept him on a month to month lease and on Tuesday served him with eviction papers.

KTVU contacted Ronald Nahas who says he had worked hard to bring Starbucks into the Marina Bay neighborhood. Nahas confirmed the Starbucks deal does ban other cafes, but Shahabi's cafe was grandfathered in.

"It does not apply to any tenant in the shopping center who signed a lease prior to September of 2015 so it does not apply to Joe Shahabi," said Nahas.

As to why Shahabi was being evicted, Nahas said he could not comment.

"Suffice it to say the issues are longstanding for many years and they are many-fold and they are the subject currently of litigation, so I simply cannot go into that," said Nahas.

The President of the Marina Bay Neighborhood Council Stanly Anderson says some residents are excited by the new business and support the Starbucks, which he says will have later hours and bring new amenities to the area.

"You can drive through or go in and sit. It's a great atmosphere and it allows Marina Bay to have a service that we wouldn't have at this level," said Anderson.

Now Shahabi has filed a lawsuit and says Nahas has not been fair. As a tenant, Shahabi says he's lost business due to a 22-month underpass construction project nearby, which he said the landlord never disclosed.

Shahabi also says he can't sell his cafe because no one would buy it due to the Starbucks deal. He says his cafe has been his dream and his livelihood, as he supports his son and daughter.

"I put her through school at UC Davis and now I have a son going to ASU and I have to provide for him as well," said Shahabi.

Some customers say they're upset and have started a petition.

"We're going to lose someone who's a good member of the business community and I don't think that's right," said Jorge Bordt, a Cafe Pascal customer.

He and others say while they don't mind having a Starbucks, there should not be a ban on competitors.

"Their corporate philosophy seems to be the fair trade issues and working with poor people in foreign countries making sure they get the right pay for their work so they're taking care of those people but then they come into these shopping centers and they drive out the local business," said Bill McLaughlin, a Cafe Pascal customer who lives in Richmond.

"It's just so unfair, I just couldn't stand it," said Natallia Spell, another customer from Richmond, "Starbucks can have their own customers and Cafe Pascal have its own customers."

Shahabi says while he understands the Starbucks could open as soon as Monday, he plans to keep Cafe Pascal open as long as posslble.

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