For a year and a half, the doggedly determined T.J. Chelak Jr., a laid-off IBMer, had been serving up Vienna Beef sausages — chosen by Gourmet as the best-tasting dogs in the nation — from a cart at Maple Tree Place in Williston. But when it came time for T.J.’s Dawg House to ink a new, 27-month lease agreement with the plaza’s owners, Inland US Management LLC, they aimed to raise his rent by $4500 — to $15,300. That figure, according to Chelak, is “three times what they charge on Church Street.”
When he suggested that the rent they requested was too high for his fledgling business, which scraped by with a $6000 profit last year, Inland kicked him to the curb. In an email, Property Manager Richard L. Golder wrote: “We regret that you feel we are asking you to pay an unreasonable amount of rent ... Since we cannot seem to come to terms with regard to rend (sic), we wish you well in your business endeavor as you find another place in which to grow your business ... Please make the necessary arrangements to have your cart removed from the pedestrian walkway by the end of this weekend.”
Chelak says he can’t move to Church Street because his cart is too large. He is looking into the possibility of a spot at the Williston Driving Range.
In a recent email, Market Manager Chris Wagner said that a meeting with Mayor Bob Kiss, Assistant-to-the-Mayor Joe Reinert and BP&R Director Wayne Gross was productive. “We feel that there is now a reasonable proposal on the table. It reflects an increase in rent that is proportional to the increase in gross sales at the market,” Wagner writes. The proposal will now be reviewed by the Farmers Market constituents and the Parks & Recreation Commission.
Wagner also thanked community members for the outpouring of public support for the market, calling it “very reassuring.”