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Former coffee shop vendor sues Langara Students’ Union

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Before and after: students will remember Duke's coffee shop located in the Students' Union Building last year. The owners of Duke's are suing the Langara Students' Union for failure to renew their lease agreement in August. Photo by Tyler Hooper.
Before and after: some students will remember Duke’s coffee shop located in the Students’ Union Building last year. The owners of Duke’s are suing the Langara Students’ Union for failure to renew their lease agreement. Photo by Tyler Hooper

Duke’s coffee shop has filed a lawsuit against the Langara Students’ Union for an alleged breach of lease agreement.

The plaintiffs and owners of Duke’s Gourmet Cookies & Cappuccino, Dae Kyu Kim and Myung Sook Kim, are seeking damages for the failure to renew a lease agreement in June of 2013. The former food vendor was located in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) for 10 years until it vacated the high-traffic retail space this past August.

The real story behind your vanishing coffee shop

According to court documents, the LSU “negligently misrepresented to the plaintiffs that they would be offered a new lease and subsequently failed, refused or neglected to enter into a new lease with the plaintiffs.”

Marcus Kim, manager of Duke’s and son of the plaintiffs, said “despite all the support from the students and staff,” the LSU did not give a clear reason as to why.

“I even told the LSU I would outbid anybody, even if they got a better offer from anybody else, but they just didn’t consider it at all,” Kim said.

Kim also said that after 10 years of running the business Duke’s never received a formal complaint, despite heavy competition from Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

“As a member of the LSU I am concerned that my needs as a student were ignored by the LSU,” said Rachel Empson by email, a first-year business administration student and former customer of Duke’s. “Of course, maybe they had good reasons for getting rid of Duke’s and they just failed to communicate those reasons to students,” she added.

The plaintiffs are also looking for compensation during the one year and nine months, January 2008 to August 2009, in which they were unable to conduct business due to construction of the new SUB.

Kim declined to disclose to The Voice the exact amount of compensation they were seeking in the suit. “I can’t really say at the moment,” said Kim.

The LSU responds

“I can confirm that we have received notice of Duke’s Claim against [the] LSU,” said Janna Jorgensen, the LSU’s new executive director, in an email. But she had no further comment due to legal advice from the union’s lawyer.

The documents state that the plaintiffs consistently paid rent and operated with the belief that Duke’s would continue to stay on campus.

In 2012 the LSU spent $5,791 on legal fees, but that number jumped dramatically to $40,513 last year, and an additional $35,000 is budgeted to be spent on legal fees this year.

Reported by Tyler Hooper

Related story: Langara Students’ Union building welcomes new cafe

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  1. Freddy says

    Sad to see Dukes go. Best place on campus to get food and *normal* coffee.

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