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More Than 2,000 Sign Petitions to Save Bagel Bakery in Alexandria

New business, The Fresh Market, weighs in with statement.

Kay Paik talks about her bagel business, Capital Bagel Bakery, in Alexandria. Photo by Mary Ann Barton
Kay Paik talks about her bagel business, Capital Bagel Bakery, in Alexandria. Photo by Mary Ann Barton
Kay Paik, owner of the Capital Bagel Bakery in Alexandria, didn't know how much people loved her bagel shop until word got out that it would be closing its doors this week.

"This is amazing," she said Monday, after nearly 2,000 had signed an online petition on change.org to keep the bagel shop open and more filled up 20 pages of paper petitions inside the shop. It didn't hurt either that loyal customers came Monday and bought bagels and handed them out to passerby to let them know what was going on. Mayor Bill Euille stopped by too, to lend support.

On the Bradlee Shopping Center Facebook page, people are weighing in, 68 comments in all by Monday.

Paik said she was told Jan. 15 by management, by shopping center owner Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, that she had 30 days to leave. Paik said she's not certain, but thinks that the next door Rite Aid is expanding into the space and that it's a done deal. 

She said the statement by WRIT on the Bradlee Facebook page that she was not fully meeting her obligations "is not entirely out of line." She admits that were times she had trouble with her business when the economy took a turn for the worse and it hurt her wholesale business, but that there had never been any concrete warning that she would lose her lease.

The bagel shop has been at its current location the past 27 years, the past nine years under Paik's ownership. She worked at a bank for eight years before deciding to buy the bagel shop with her sister Anna. "I knew the food business, our parents had a carryout," she said. The family originally hails from South Korea and lives in Centreville.

"I didn't know about bagels, but I fell in love with it," Paik said.

One of her biggest concerns is getting the bakery's huge oven, that would take $45,000 to replace, out in time, by Friday night. As of Monday, the shopping center owners hadn't budged on the timing, which was for her to be out after Friday, but she is still hoping to negotiate that with them.

She had to find a specialist from the oven company to come and move the oven. But right now, they can only come March 5 and 6 and she's not sure where she would move the oven. WRIT has shown her spaces at Foxchase and in Springfield but the store at Foxchase "smelled funny" she said, she thinks due to old water leaks, and the Springfield shopping center, she said, didn't look that busy.

After the mayor came by Monday, two employees from the City of Alexandria's economic development office also stopped by, she said. She hopes they can help her.

Meanwhile, The Fresh Market weighed in Monday with this statement (below), after Paik had put some blame on them for losing her lease. Paik said it was the shopping center management that mentioned Fresh Market. 

"One of The Fresh Market's core operating values is the idea of 'Neighbors Serving Neighbors.' This applies to our employees and our customers, as well as other neighbors such as food banks, community organizations and businesses. Over the past few days, it has been incorrectly communicated that The Fresh Market's recent opening is related to Capital Bagel Bakery's departure from Bradlee Shopping Center. The Fresh Market is in no way responsible for their departure. Our lease does not include any language that would prevent Capital Bagel Bakery from remaining open at Bradlee Shopping Center. We believe that having strong local businesses as co-tenants is beneficial for both us and the local businesses, and especially for our customers and communities."

Paik said The Fresh Market has even reached out to her, over the weekend, to sell her bagels in their new Bradlee store. But without the space available at the shopping center or elsewhere at the moment to bake the bagels, Paik wasn't sure how or if it will work out. The best-case scenario? She said she would love another space at Bradlee, but is being told there's no room, that spaces are already spoken for.

Patch placed two calls to WRIT Monday, but they preferred to stand by their statement on the Bradlee Facebook page.

Ten employees at the bagel shop will likely lose their jobs after the store closes its doors on Friday at 5 p.m., unless some sort of solution is worked out.
Andrew February 24, 2014 at 06:31 PM
Not the first time Fresh Market has been shady. http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/blog/2011/05/fresh-market-faces-norms-backlash.html?page=all

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