Flour Bakery & Cafe Embroiled In Fort Point Landlord Lease Dispute
Boston, MA - In the eighteen years since Joanne Chang opened the first location of Flour Bakery & Cafe in the Back Bay, the James Beard award-winning chef has seen it grow to be one of the most buzzed about local bakery chains, expanding to seven locations around the greater Boston and Cambridge area. Now, she’s filing suit with the building owner of one of her most popular spots in the Fort Point area for allowing a competing eatery to lease space next door.
Cakewalk Bakers LLC—which does business under the Flour name—filed the suit against property owner NewTower Trust Co. in Suffolk Superior Court earlier in August.
According to the suit, Cakewalk alleges that New \Tower allowed a competitor called Mystic Market Kitchen & Eatery to rent space adjacent to the bakery, violating a non-compete covenant in its own lease.
“Although Mystic’s corporate name includes the word “Market,” it is primarily a restaurant, bakery and cafe offering “breakfast, custom sandwiches, market salads, artisanal sandwiches, paninis & grilled sandwiches, sweet treats platters, tarts & pies, cupcakes” and catering grocery items, all at a substantially similar price point to Flour. Flour’s menu offers comparable, and in many instances identical, food and beverage items as Mystic,” reads the suit.
According to the complaint Chang—who also co-owns downtown hotspot Myers + Chang—met with Mystic CEO Andrew Zang one day prior to the suit. During the meeting, Zang "repeatedly inquired of the landlord whether its business would be in conflict with any restrictive covenants of other tenants. In response, landlord stated that Mystic would not be in conflict with any other tenant’s restrictive covenants."
Flour initially signed the non-compete provision when it first leased its Fort Point location from Berkeley Investments in 2007. The property—located at 12 Farnsworth St—was sold to NewTower in October of 2015 for $30 million.
NewTower Trust Co is based out of Bethesda, MD and acts as the trustee and investment manager of Multi-Employer Property Trust, a $6.5 billion real estate equity firm. It currently oversees 103 properties nationally, including three in the Fort Point neighborhood.