Today, landlords Gail and Barbara Bassin released a statement regarding their decision to terminate the lease of Max’s Best Homemade Ice Cream (2416 Wisconsin Ave.). In the statement, the two sisters express affection for Glover Park and small businesses in general, and confidence in their decision to lease the Max’s space to Rocklands (2418 Wisconsin Ave.) so that the barbecue restaurant can expand. Although they do not completely foreclose the possibility of allowing Max’s to remain through one last summer season, they say that they have yet to receive a definitive proposal from Max or his attorney on that.
Here is the entire statement:
As owners of the property at 2416 Wisconsin Avenue NW, which houses Max’s Best Ice Cream, we felt compelled to issue a public statement in light of recent media and community attention. Some of this attention has unfairly resulted in casting Rockland’s Barbeque or our property management company in an unfavorable light, which we, as landlords, feel is grossly unfair, misinformed and unjustified.
We have recently heard from numerous community members, many of who have been friends and neighbors of ours for years, and we have listened carefully to both your support, and your concerns, about our decision to offer Rockland’s the opportunity to expand.
We do not take our property ownership responsibilities and community commitment lightly, especially as we have a long family history in Glover Park spanning several generations. Our grandparents originally purchased the properties on Wisconsin Avenue, transferring them to our mother and she recently to us. As our family’s connection to Glover Park spans several generations, we understand and appreciate the feeling of community among residents. Our mother grew up in Glover Park on 37th Street, living upstairs from the small grocery store her parents owned. She went to Stoddert Elementary School, Gordon Junior High, and Western High School. Our uncle owned a deli that occupied the current Rocklands space. We understand and support small businesses, which have been a part of our family background for many years and continue to be part of our family.
As we approached the end of Max’s current lease, we recognized that as new owners of the property we needed to look ahead as to the best long term use of the property. We reached the decision some time ago to pursue other interested parties in the property. Max’s lease was set to expire on June 30, 2013 and the lease did not contain a right to renew.
While considering the best use of the space in 2416 Wisconsin, we recognized that our family has always had a positive relationship with John Snedden, the founder and owner of Rocklands, and this Winter we approached Rocklands about leasing 2416 Wisconsin. For many years John had informally expressed to Ruth Bassin (our mother) his interest in expanding his space if the property next door were ever to become available. We understand he made the same request to the owners of the property on the other side of Rockland’s as well.
Throughout all this, it is very important to note that while Rockland’s had expressed interest in this property for some time, when we made the decision to seek a new long –term lease last year, we had no formal arrangement with Rockland’s at the time. We did know of John’s interest from our mother, and we knew that local patrons have been asking for them to offer more seating since they first opened their doors. We also knew John and his long standing dedicated staff as both excellent stewards of the property and committed members of our community. Many of John’s employees have been with him since he first opened more than 20 years ago.
In offering John the lease we sought to support his efforts to improve the service that he provides to the Glover Park community. We are saddened to hear that members of the community have taken upon themselves to be critical of and abusive to John over what is our decision to allow him to expand his business.
In October of 2011 Max had requested a lease extension and was told that Ruth Bassin was not interested in discussing an extension more than a year and a half before its expiration date. Max again inquired about a lease extension in July of 2012. In the Fall of 2012 Max was informed that we would not extend the lease. It is not clear why Max chose to think that the lease would be extended. In the beginning of May 2013 Max was given a written notice to vacate when his lease expires on June 30, 2013.
These properties are small spaces, and as the current owners we ultimately decided that it made sense to combine 2416 and 2418 Wisconsin into a single retail space that could support a larger restaurant under a new, long-term lease agreement. As landlords and owners we feel comfortable with our decision to consolidate the two spaces and offer a friendly locally owned restaurant an environment where families and friends can come together in Glover Park twelve months of the year.
Some community members have suggested we honor a request to delay Max’s lease expiration for the summer period should Max need time to make plans for his business. At this time, however, we have not received a definitive proposal from Max or his attorney regarding a short term extension.