Café Soleil Featured by WTSP

September 22, 2023 by
Café Soleil Featured by WTSP
Protect St. Pete Beach

Local business owner Lauren Chezaud was featured by WTSP and shared more details of the circumstances surrounding Café Soleil's leaving Dolphin Village:


Earlier this year, Chezaud says her landlord reached out with an enticing offer to move her cafe across the plaza. The space was recently renovated and is larger than Café Soleil's current location. 

"They were hoping that by us moving there, we would attract more traffic to the other side since they're looking for tenants, and it now looks absolutely beautiful," Chezaud said. "So that was one of the reasons why that idea came up."

After months of discussions with her Brixmor Property Group leasing agent, Chezaud signed the new location lease. 

"For almost nine months, we had contractors we had from painters, architects, general contractors, and flooring companies, ready to start the construction work there," Chezaud explained. "At the last minute, after spending so much time looking into that move in organizing it, that relocation, they let us know that we had a major issue that Starbucks was not giving us their consent to stay in the shopping center. 

"So we could not, with the way our menu reads, stay in the shopping center. And we could therefore not be serving coffee and serving most of what's on our menu."

Chezaud shared text messages from her leasing agent that said, "The way your menu reads right now, Starbucks with not approve your use."

Malique Rankin, General Assignment Reporter with 10 Tampa Bay


Earlier this week, Brixmor Property Group issued a statement in response to the controversy:

"For years, Dolphin Village has had a successful partnership with Café Soleil who has created a bakery beloved by the community. 

"Last year, Café Soleil’s lease expired and we offered a lease renewal for the current location. However, Café Soleil requested a larger space, so we offered another location at Dolphin Village. Café Soleil has since declined to continue at Dolphin Village and plans to move the business to another center. Contrary to recent reporting, Café Soleil was not asked to change its menu or stop serving coffee and pastries.

"Based upon Café Soleil’s request for larger space, we moved forward in leasing its current location to another business. 

"We are disappointed that we were unable to keep Café Soleil. We value small businesses which are integral to our shopping centers and the communities we serve. "

Brixmor Property Group


Starbucks also issued a response, denying any involvement in the situation:

“At no point did Starbucks request or compel any organization or business entity of any kind, to move, change or not renew, Café Solei's business or tenancy. Starbucks had no knowledge of the café’s status with Dolphin Village Ownership prior to the post on the matter from https://protectstpetebeach.com/. We have enjoyed being neighbors with you and value our relationships within Dolphin Village. Starbucks remains committed to being a good neighbor in the St. Pete Beach community.”

Starbucks statement to 10 Tampa Bay


It is difficult to reconcile Brixmor's statement with the text message sent by the leasing agent, which clearly states, "The way your menu reads right now, Starbucks will not approve your use."

It is both sad and inexplicable that a landlord would let its relationship with a valuable tenant deteriorate to the point where a much-loved business is suddenly forced to find a new home, especially after a prolonged period where the business was planning and preparing to move to a different location in the same complex.

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