Tully's Coffee in downtown Pleasanton is set to close after the holidays, a move that surprised some longtime patrons.
The coffee shop, a downtown gathering place at 349 Main Street since 2000, will close its doors on Jan. 12 after its lease wasn't renewed, according to Tully's assistant manager Elena Grannis.
Craig Semmelmeyer of Main Street Property Services, who handles the lease for Tully's and several downtown locations, did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls requesting comment.
Longtime store customers lamented the change, saying downtown Pleasanton won't feel the same without Tully's.
"I'm disappointed because even though it's a chain, it's like a small downtown place," Pleasanton resident Tina Weetman said. "I like our town for its charm and ability to support small businesses on its Main Street."
Dorothy Brodeson, a Pleasanton Realtor, said she and other members of the Pleasanton Newcomers' Club meet every week at Tully's to start off the morning.
"I'm sad. This has been a nice gathering spot," she said. "I've never been in here when I didn't run into someone I know."
Some attention has been focused on the new downtown Starbucks, which moved into a space at 511 Main St. this fall, setting up competition between the two coffee shops.
Tully's assistant manager Elena Grannis said the store noticed decreased sales for only about two weeks after the Main Street Starbucks opened. Since then, she said, "it's been pretty steady, if not busier than usual."
Tully's employs 15 people, six of which are full-time, all of whom will be laid off, Grannis said. The store won't be relocating.
Pam Ott, city of Pleasanton director of economic development, said closures of longtime businesses have a silver lining in that it opens the door for new businesses to put their mark on Pleasanton.
"Our residents and our visitors are always interested when a business closes downtown but my perspective is as much as we hate to lose places that we've patronized for years, it also creates an opportunity for new tenants," she said. "Downtown should be dynamic. It shouldn't be static over time."
She said Semmelmeyer has told her empty storefronts under his management won't remain empty for long, and she said he aims to choose businesses that will enhance downtown.
Tully's isn't the only store that has closed recently. Tara's Organic Ice Cream closed in November after not paying its November rent.
Tara Esperanza, owner of Tara's Organic Ice Cream, said she wasn't able to keep up with rising rent and high fees added by Main Street Property Services. She said she'd tried to negotiate lower fees for about a year but ultimately had to close up shop, which had occupied the spot for the past three years.
While she said it's unfortunate she couldn't keep serving her Pleasanton customers, but she will keep running her Oakland and Berkeley locations.
While those involved in downtown development said they value Main Street Property Services, some downtown owners said they've had problems with the company's style of management.
Mangia Mi owner Peter Cedolini said he and other tenants have been struggling under heavy fees and rising rents which threaten to put the smaller stores out of business.
"The idea of a good landlord-tenant relationship is for both to make money and support the local community. This hasn't been the case with Main Street Properties," Cedolini said.
At the same time, some of Semmelmeyer's tenants said while he pays very close attention to detail, his methods are for the betterment of downtown. While some say Semmelmeyer could be perceived as being nit-picky, Fontina owner John Choi said he sees Semmelmeyer's frequent involvement as a sign of thorough management.
"Our landlord is very, very, very precise on his direction," said Fontina owner John Choi. "My personal opinion is he's very throughout with checking everything out in a good way and in a bad way."
Laura Olson, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association, said Semmelmeyer is a "well-respected property owner in downtown."
"He's a tremendous investor in that area," she said. "He's always thinking about what our downtown needs."