Fat Tuesday sues Bayside Marketplace over breach of lease agreement and unlawful rent increase

Bayside Marketplace
Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace in downtown Miami is trying to put the squeeze on a popular daiquiri maker that leases a prime space at the outdoor mall, according to a recent civil lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Representatives for the plaintiff, Fat Tuesday, and General Growth Properties and Ashkenazy Acquisition, the partners that own Bayside, could not be reached for comment. According to Fat Tuesday’s suit, Bayside’s owners breached a recently signed lease agreement by demanding the slushy alcoholic drink company pay more rent or relocate its longtime home to another space in the mall.

The lawsuit provides a rare glimpse at lease rates national retailers pay for spaces at popular locations. According to a copy of the 2009 lease agreement attached to the lawsuit, Fat Tuesday went from paying $46,756 a month seven years ago to paying $61,537 a month in 2015.

Fat Tuesday at signed a six-year lease to sell its daiquiris and other frozen speciality drinks at a prime location at the end of 2009, according to the suit. Fat Tuesday and Bayside’s owners began negotiating a new lease in May of last year, nine months before the previous one expired, the suit said. Fat Tuesday and its landlord reached an agreement on a lease renewal in November. However, Bayside’s owners never provided Fat Tuesday with a copy of the new signed lease, according to the suit.

Instead, Bayside’s owners began looking for ways to break the new lease agreement, such as accusing Fat Tuesday of failing to keep the exterior of the premises clean per the lease terms, the lawsuit alleges. “On March 8, 2016 the landlord sent a correspondence to Fat Tuesday which expressed the “‘failure to clean the exterior of your business…will result in a Non-Monetary Default,’” the lawsuit states.

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A month later, Ashkenazy representatives notified Fat Tuesday that the company could either relocate to a new space or pay a higher rent to stay at its current location, the lawsuit alleges.  Fat Tuesday’s lawyers argue that there is no provision in the new lease that would permit the landlord to “unilaterally and arbitrarily increase rent.”

The lawsuit alleges that Ashkenazy “intentionally misrepresented to Fat Tuesday that the 2016 lease was not agreed to or executed.”

Fat Tuesday wants a judge to force Bayside’s owners to abide by the terms of the 2016 lease and to award tenant an amount equivalent to its reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs associated with bringing the lawsuit.

In addition to Bayside, Fat Tuesday has locations on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach and CocoWalk in Miami, as well as in Fort Lauderdale and Key West, according to its website.