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Brouhaha over Cornersburg coffee-shop barista plan unplugs effort to reach lease agreement

Published: Thu, August 9, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Jamison Cocklin



A dispute between the owner of Cornersburg Plaza and a proprietor who had planned to open a drive-through coffee shop featuring provocatively clothed baristas led to a three- person protest.

Signs decrying plaza owner Tom Shutrump were prominently displayed Wednesday to drivers on Canfield Road by Eileen Benedict, who signed a letter-of-intent to rent the space immediately adjacent to the U.S. Post Office in December.

Benedict said her business, which was to be called Hot Contents Coffee and Comforts, would have utilized women wearing “sexy clothes — nothing raunchy, but sophisticated.”

She alleges problems arose with Shutrump when it came time to sign a lease agreement in April and he included stipulations that barred employees from being overly exposed “below the neck or above the knee.”

As a result, Benedict claims her business plan is ruined altogether because she spent most of her working capital on renovating the space — a cost she estimated at $6,500.

“[Shutrump] is trying to bamboozle my business,” she said. “He knew what we were doing and he thought it was a good idea. But because of the lease, we can no longer be the first in the area with this drive-through idea.”

Shutrump would not comment Wednesday. Instead, his lawyer, Steve Garea, said Benedict’s claims are “an absolute falsehood.”

“The simple truth is that the landlord and the tenant were not able to arrive at a lease agreement,” Garea said. “It appears that the tenant is trying to use the press to an advantage. A lease was presented and reviewed, and we requested any changes or amendments that the tenant would like and we have not heard back.”

Garea also said that Shutrump was never entirely clear on Benedict’s business plan. The letter of intent, he added, was always subject to both parties executing a lease agreement.

Benedict, too, hired a lawyer — Charles Gruenspan, who confirmed that a lease was never signed but refused to provide comment for fear of compromising the ongoing negotiations between the two parties.

A copy of the lease provided to The Vindicator by Benedict does include language that would prevent Benedict from going forward with some aspects of her business plan.

“Tenant shall operate the demised premises as a family establishment,” reads the lease. “Tenant shall not allow any employee to appear in any state of dress that is provocative, or exposes body parts below the neck or above the knee without clothing covering those portions of the body.”

The initial lease goes on to read, “Tenant shall not conduct any adult entertainment activities in the demised premises.”

But, instead of negotiating with her landlord, Garea said Benedict “disappeared.”

“When the regulations with respect to operations and the lease became a concern for the potential tenant, we asked her what she wanted changed — she never responded,” Garea said. “... We’ve had very little if any contact with Eileen Benedict. I don’t believe there’s a story here.”

Garea added Shutrump “has bent over backward for the tenant,” and at this point, he is allowing Benedict to remove her belongings from the space at 3373 Cornersburg Plaza.

Benedict is negotiating for the renovation costs and additional damages.


1southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Shutrump sounds like he is past it...get with the times

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2target145(18 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Pulled up and talked to this women , she said she lost her job at GM and the National gaurd. Instead of collecting welfare . She decided to start a bussiness with what money she had. She had a handyman do all the work inside for her and now she don't know how she is going to pay him back.
The day the lease was given to a worker at the building, she had been in bulter P.A. because her mother was in the hospital dying.Well after a month of her being sick, she passed away..she had a funeral and buried her mom then came back to deal with the lanlord.

She also said that she was going to have cute girls in outfits like policeman monday, fireman tuesday, nascar sunday,cheerleader day ect..
People we should praise this women for trying and we should look at what the landlord did to her.
Shutrump ...Hello it's 2012 you should be ashamed of yourself.. this women was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth..and tried to better herself and start a bussiness in youngstown..thats hard enough .
Good Luck Lady

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3cycler(57 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

LoL !!!

she spent her own money renovating the space with no signed lease ? There's a word for that....

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4target145(18 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I forot to add a important part this bussiness owner said...
she said she should of never trusted tom shutrump..
the word I think is TRUST you can't trust what people say, they will just switch it around or lie to protect themselfs.
we all know that and i don't blame her for getting a lawyer out of town..ha ha we all know about the mahoning valley !!!

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5crafty(16 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't know Shutrump or Benedict. If Benedict is offering quality beverages, then why does she need to use provocatively dressed girls to lure the customers in? She's just a woman exploiting women. I thought we had moved beyond that!

And a landlord does have the right to stipulate ground rules. Follow the rules or go elsewhere.

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6whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

His word against hers.

I used to respect the handshake.

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7DwightK(1537 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

So the moral of the story is sign the lease, then spend money remodeling. You do that, you don't have to "protest" your landlord.

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8Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Is this the same owner who has one the Boardman ????

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9Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Is this the same owner who has one the Boardman ????

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10bmanresident(607 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Everyone who gets their panties in a bunch over women in little clothing at a place of business is obviously 2 things, a hypocrite or a shut in with no internet or television and dont get mail ever because of the underwear ads. Those people who get bent out of shape over this business format need to get a life and stop being so sensitive to this kind of thing. And to think you people reproduce.

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11target145(18 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Hey I just was thinking of something..
How about when at Burger King or somewhere else we see a bikini car wash with underage school girls half naked washing cars ddaa hello
and while this goes down their parents are sitting in their cars watching the whole thing..tell me this why is this ok and if this is ok then she should of opened.
ps: what happend to the wfmj 21 news story on the net ..it was on the 6.00 news and the 11.00 news and I tried looking it up on tv 21 web site and nothing..
let me guess
three words: shutrump mahoning valley

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12truthbtold2u(4 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Freeatlast: No, these were 2 separate businesses.

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13target145(18 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Sorry wrong, One was not a bussiness, it was to teach young kids about life..Free of charge
ps..shutrunp got out is checkbook and all is solved now..she got her money back. To bad, I heard they had all conversations on video and was ready to go to court to teach that lier a lessen.
video don't lie ha ha

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