Beloved local restauranteur can't sell coffee or tea because Starbucks strongarmed the landlord

The Arepa Lady started as a food-cart in Jackson Heights, Queens, owned by Maria Cano, whose son and daughter-in-law have continued the family business, moving into permanent digs, with seating for 30.

But when they applied for a liquor license, they revealed a curious circumstance: the Arepa Lady wanted a license to sell beer, wine and spirits because their landlords wouldn't let them sell coffee.

That's because their landlord has also rented a storefront to a Starbucks cafe, and Starbucks insisted on a clause in their lease that banned the landlord from renting to anyone who competed with them to sell coffee or tea.

Maria Cano founded the Arepa Lady after fleeing drug violence in her birthplace of Medellin, Colombia, and is a beloved institution in Jackson Heights.

"As with all of our locations, we work with our landlords to determine what makes the most sense for our stores," a spokeswoman wrote in an email. The company did not specifically answer a question about terms of its lease prohibiting neighbors from selling coffee and tea.

'Arepa Lady' Moves to New Space but Starbucks Blocks it From Selling Coffee

[Katie Honan/DNA Info]

(via Late Stage Capitalism)