Common Grounds — the South Davis coffeehouse that has been a popular hangout and meeting place for the past 12 years — is closing Sunday on short notice. The owners received a letter Thursday from the company that owns the Oakshade Town Center telling Common Grounds to clear out by April 4, when the current lease ends.
Co-owner Michelle Kim said that for several months, she has been negotiating a lease renewal with Regency Centers, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based company that owns 348 shopping centers around the country. Regency Centers bought Oakshade Town Center in 2011 for $35 million. The center is at Cowell Boulevard and Pole Line Road in South Davis.
Kim said Regency Centers told her a pet store that is moving into the shopping center also wants the adjacent Common Grounds storefront.
“We’ve paid our rent on time for 12 years. We haven’t done anything wrong,” Kim said with some frustration. “They only gave us seven days’ notice. We’ve paid over $1 million (cumulatively) in rent since we set up the store. Our store and Dos Coyotes (restaurant) are the ones that have survived in this part of the shopping center over the years.
“I had to give our employees two weeks’ notice, that’s 10 good kids who will be out of work.”
Kim said Common Grounds would put its furniture and other fixtures into storage for the time being, with the hope that the business will re-emerge at some new location in Davis during the next few months.
Kim said she’s heard through a third party that the Starbucks coffee chain is interested in locating a drive-through coffee kiosk in the shopping center’s parking lot, but she doesn’t know if that rumor is true.
A call Friday to the Regency Centers’ Bay Area representative handling the Oakshade Town Center account was not returned. The company website includes a map of the Oakshade Town Center, updated on March 25, that shows the currently vacant storefront adjacent to Common Grounds — formerly leased to the Yolo Federal Credit Union — as being leased by Pet Food Express, a Bay Area-based chain that operates 48 stores.
The locally owned Common Grounds features a casual atmosphere with comfy chairs and sofas, as well as coffee shop-style tables and chairs. It has been a favored hangout among South Davis residents for some years, with many customers bringing textbooks, letter-writing stationery or their laptop computer to use while sipping coffee, tea or a smoothie, or nibbling on a pastry. Several local elected officials have held “office hours” there, with local voters invited to drop in and ask questions.
The coffee shop also has been popular with university students prepping for exams or working on a paper and neighborhood residents who needed a mutually understood location for meeting a friend. Common Grounds also has supported fundraising efforts of several local nonprofits through donations.
Common Grounds went to court in 2000 when the Safeway store on the other side of the parking lot opened a Starbucks kiosk inside the grocery store. Common Grounds contended that Paul Petrovich, who built Oakshade Town Center in 1998 and owned the shopping center at that time, had given Common Grounds an exclusive right to be the shopping center’s only coffee service.
Petrovich contended that Safeway was exempt from the exclusivity clause due to language in its lease. The lawsuit was settled out of court “to the satisfaction of all parties” in 2001.
Common Grounds is the second local business in recent months to be gobbled up by a new tenant that wants more square footage. Goodwill, which operates thrift stores nationwide, is refurbishing the space formerly occupied by All Things Right & Relevant in the Davis Manor Shopping Center and also is taking the space formerly occupied by The Wash Mill, a laundromat that had been doing business there for 40 years. The Wash Mill closed in January.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.