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Round the Square owner owes back rent to city

January 04, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The owner of the recently closed Round the Square sandwich and coffee shop on Hagerstown's Public Square owes the City of Hagerstown almost $10,000 for rent that hasn't been paid in full since August 1998, according to city finance records.

On Tuesday the City Council voted 5-0 to terminate the shop's lease on 12 Public Square, which is in the city-owned Elizabeth Hager Center. This means that December was the last month shop owner Harry Grandinett will be charged rent for the space.

The shop closed two weeks ago after more than five years in downtown. During an interview last week, Grandinett said he couldn't make enough money to stay in business.

According to city Finance Department records, Grandinett owes the city $9,854.97 for back rent. According to court records reviewed last week, Grandinett also owes the city $23,394 for a renovation loan.

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City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said council members had discussed the situation in several closed meetings over the last year.

"I didn't like or condone it," Boyer said Tuesday.

"But Harry's a real asset to our square," said Boyer, who added he was hoping Grandinett would eventually be able to pay off the back rent.

"We chose to try to make every effort to give him a shot," Councilman William M. Breichner said.

"Instead of having another business fail in downtown we were willing to stick our neck out," Breichner said

"I thought he made a contribution to downtown," he added.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said the council considered evicting the business, but there was a "consensus vote" during their closed sessions against eviction.

Grandinett could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Grandinett also operated the former Harry's House of Blues, which was renamed House of Brues after the national House of Blues chain threatened legal action. The House of Brues shared a kitchen with Round the Square until the blues bar closed in July.

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