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Bentley's Bagels looking to move from downtown Hagerstown

Owners cite dispute with landlord over rent

Owners cite dispute with landlord over rent

May 21, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN --The owners of Bentley's Bagels on West Washington Street are looking for a new spot to move their business after serving the downtown lunch crowd for the past three years.

Eric Muritz, who owns Bentley's along with his girlfriend, Jordan Lessig, said a dispute with their landlord will force the couple to leave by July 31. The landlord, Mohammad Azadi, wants to raise the rent about $470 per month, or from about $13 per square foot to $19 per square foot, Muritz said.

"We don't want to leave because so much of our business is on Washington Street," Muritz said. "We really want to stay on West Washington Street so we can cater to the (Washington County Circuit) courthouse crowd."

Azadi's son, Ash, scheduled an interview with The Herald-Mail Tuesday, but canceled, citing a family emergency. The Azadis' company, UGO Property Management, sent a fax to respond.

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The fax said UGO was "disappointed and saddened" that "Bentley's Bagel management" announced the business would have to close.

"Our office has always been open to fair lease negotiations having considered the economic difficulties small-business owners are experiencing throughout the area," the fax said. "Our intent is, and has always been to retain our valued tenants. We have offered several management options for Bentley's management to consider. Whichever direction Bentley's management chooses, we wish them the best of luck and success."

Muritz and Lessig said they're being driven from a prime location at a time when Hagerstown officials are trying to advance economic development in the city's urban core.

"The ironic thing is we're really busy ... We definitely don't want to leave," Lessig said. "We have everything invested here."

Muritz said he and Lessig have tried unsuccessfully to find another place to set up shop in the downtown area. They have sought help to find a new building from Hagerstown's Economic Development Department, but that has proven to be ineffective as well, Muritz said.

The city will continue to do everything in its power to make sure Bentley's finds a new home, said Deborah Everhart, director of economic development.

"That's a very valuable business for the downtown," Everhart said. "I think it's very unfortunate they couldn't make a deal to stay there."

In the meantime, Muritz said the city should do more to ensure the right kind of landlords buy the buildings downtown.

"Some landlords aren't in it for Hagerstown," he said. "They're in it to turn a buck."

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