Chelsea Bakery Faces Sticky Future
The end may be near for a popular bakery in Chelsea that's offered residents a place to gather to gather for more than a decade. NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
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The first thing you see in Les Desirs Patisserie, other than fresh pastries, are signs asking for help. After 11 years in the space on 9th Avenue, the bakery's owner was told he has to be out by the end of the month.
The board of the co-op that owns the building says it wants a tenant who can pay market rates.
"They never offer me the market rate, I don't even know how much is the market rate, I never see any number from them," said Les Desirs Patisserie owner Jean Pauget.
What Pauget has seen over the years is customer loyalty. He says more than 700 people have signed the petition by the register, hoping to help him stay. Many of his regulars are senior citizens who not only come for the food, but also enjoy the company.
"I met a lot of people since I've been retired just from this bakery," said one customer.
"I would call it home away from home," said another customer.
Pauget's lease with the Penn South housing cooperative expired in February and since then he's been month to month. He says his rent checks for September and October have not been cashed and that he is worried not just for himself but for his regulars, many of whom live in the low equity co-op above.
"I've got loyal customers and they all come from Penn South, the landlord has to understand the more they charge me, the more I have to charge them and the people who live in Penn South don't have a very high income, we have to find a balance," Pauget said.
The co-op says it has no choice but to charge its commercial tenants the market rate. It says otherwise, its shareholders would have to pay more in monthly maintenance. In fact, the co-op says it has found another bakery it says is willing to pay the going rental rate.
"If Penn South can't maintain storefronts and retail spaces that its own residents can afford, what's going to happen? You're going to make people homebound. What's the good of having a below market rent on your apartment if you can't leave the house and you can't see other people and have basic human contact?" said Penn South resident Stacy Torres.
While his back seems against the wall, Pauget says he is not giving up and that he will be meeting with his lawyer to figure out what his next move should be.