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Veggie envy


Know the difference between a $4.50 meatball sub, chips and soda combo and a $10 grilled tempeh and soy mozzarella wrap topped off with a fresh carrot-beet-apple juice? News Hits suspects you may. But a Subway franchise in Grosse Pointe is quite worried you won’t. News Hits had hoped the three-way food fight between Subway shop owners Thomas and Doris Odren, Atom’s Juice Café and their strip-mall landlord, Fisher Road Properties, was over. A settlement was reached between the parties in March 2001. But last week, lawyer Vincent Hoyumpa, representing the landlord, sent Atom’s owner John Chetcuti a letter ordering him to stop selling bottled water, flavored bottled water, vitamin-enriched flavored bottled water, Nantucket juices and Jones Soda. Weeks earlier, Chetcuti got a similar letter ordering him to stop selling coffee, lavashes and bagels. Hoyumpa didn’t return calls, and Doris Odren hung up twice on News Hits. But Hoyumpa’s letter says those items aren’t on the list of things Atom’s is allowed to sell under the 2001 agreement. Chetcuti says that’s hogwash. The letters are simply part of Subway’s ongoing attempt to put him out of business via “drowning in legal fees,” Chetcuti says. Since opening in August 2000, Chetcuti says his legal bills have topped $23,000 and have driven his brother and partner, David Chetcuti, out of the business. The issue, it seems, is that Subway’s lease agreement barred Fisher Properties from leasing other space in the mall to competitors selling similar products, a common practice. But Chetcuti wasn’t aware of that when he signed a five-year lease with Fisher in 1999, he says. Since then, Chetcuti’s put his life savings into the shop and can’t afford to move. “They’re not leaving us alone. They’re not going away. All I want to do is run my business, and they’re not allowing me to do that. It’s ridiculous. It’s getting to the point where we’re thinking of filing for harassment.”

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail