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All juiced up

Remember the nifty little News Hits item about the way-cool juice bar and vegan café in Grosse Pointe that is being sued for allegedly competing with a neighboring Subway sandwich shop?

Well, in case you missed it, here’s the scoop: About two months ago News Hits was bemoaning the fact that Atom’s Juice Café — which serves fresh-squeezed juices, herbal teas, meatless sandwiches and assures that all its paper products (including straws) are 100-percent recyclable — was nailed with a lawsuit that may drive it out of business.

Now the topper: As it turns out, the legal hassle has proved to be “the best thing that has happened,” says Barb Chetcuti, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband and his family.

“Business is tremendous,” she says.

Before Fisher Road Properties rented space to Atom’s across from Grosse Pointe South High School, it ensured that the tree-hugging store would not compete with the Subway shop three doors down by asking for a list of items to be sold, says John Chetcuti, Barb’s brother-in-law. After FRP approved the menu, the Chetcuti’s began selling their dairy-free flan, organic coffees and wheat-grass shots to the lactose-intolerant and granola types.

Nonetheless, Fisher Road Properties slapped the Chetcutis with a lawsuit last November — but only after Tom and Doris Odren, owners of the Subway shop, sued FRP for breach of contract. According to Tom Odren, Fisher Road Properties agreed to not rent space to competing businesses.

Well, the Chetcuti’s have since countersued Fisher Road Properties. They’ve also been raking in business generated by bushels of free publicity sparked by the odd legal battle. The Associated Press last week released a story on Atom’s that has been picked up around the nation, says Barb Chetcuti. Local Detroit television stations also ran stories. And the public has been quick to respond.

“We are not only getting letters of support, people are sending donations to help with the legal defense,” says Barb. “John was interviewed by a radio station in LA.”

Not surprisingly, vegsource.com has jumped on board and is asking the public to let Subway Corporation know what it thinks — and to stop by Atom’s and leave a giant tip.

Here’s another tip: Just remember, you read it here first.

News Hits was written by Ann Mullen and edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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