NEWBURYPORT — Less than two weeks after Plum Island Coffee Roasters owner Bruce Vogel defied a March 31 deadline from his former landlord to vacate his building, the city councilor announced the shop will close for good Sunday.
"I'm really, really, really sad. Everybody is sad, the entire community is sad," Vogel said Monday.
Vogel said he is especially sad for his regular customers, many of whom are elderly and spend up to an hour there each morning.
For more than 15 years, Plum Island Coffee Roasters has been a fixture near the city’s waterfront. Vogel also owns Souffle’s coffee shop in Market Square and owned Commune on Pleasant Street until it closed in 2020.
Vogel’s lease for 54R Merrimack St. expired in early 2019 and he has been a tenant at will. That means the building's owner, Newburyport Development, could ask him to leave whenever it saw fit.
"They were not going to budge," Vogel said of the landlord.
Since Newburyport Development gave Vogel 45 days to leave in mid-February to make room for a Mexican-style cantina expected to open this fall, more than 15,000 people signed an online petition hoping to save the coffee shop.
Vogel, according to a press release he sent The Daily News of Newburyport over the weekend, said he reached out to Luchos owner and area restaurateur Al Fleury hoping he could share the space.
"Again, no interest," Vogel wrote.
Luchos, part of The Fleury Group of restaurants, will move into 54-56R Merrimac St. later this year, according to Newburyport Development, part of New England Development.
On the day Vogel was supposed to leave, March 31, he told a Daily News reporter he was going to remain open.
“We’re supposed to be out today but we’re not,” Vogel said last month.
In a separate interview, Vogel said he discussed the situation with a Newburyport Development attorney and asked if he could remain open until the end of April. Newburyport Development balked at the idea but agreed Vogel could stay in business until April 18 and then vacate the building by month's end.
Vogel characterized the negotiations as cordial.
"No blood, no shooting, no rioting, nothing," Vogel said.
An email to Newburyport Development for comment was not returned Monday by The Daily News’ deadline.
As for what Vogel will do next, he wrote that some of his menu items will be incorporated into Soufflé's menu. Plum Island Coffee Roasters beans will also be available at Souffle's.
Vogel wrote that he would like to relocate Plum Island Coffee Roasters within the city but so far, his efforts "have not been fruitful."
Dave Rogers is a staff writer with The Daily News. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.