The Bassin Sisters Call Reaction in Ice Cream Store Lease Dispute “Grossly Unfair”

They say it was their decision alone to evict Max’s Best Ice Cream.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The Bassin sisters, who are landlords to Max’s Best Ice Cream in Glover Park, say it was their decision alone to evict the ice cream store owner, Max Keshani, and offer the lease to its next-door neighbor, Rocklands Barbecue, owned by John Snedden. In a statement released Tuesday morning, they also say that while some community members have suggested they give a short-term lease extension to Max’s, they have received no such request from Keshani or his lawyer.

Barbara and Gail Bassin said they felt “compelled” to issue a statement “in light of recent media and community attention” to their tenant decision. They noted that some of the attention has been negative toward Rocklands and their own property manager, Ruppert Real Estate. They called the unfavorable attention “grossly unfair, misinformed, and unjustified.” This is the first time the landlords have spoken out in a dispute that began in early May, when Keshani was informed his lease would not be renewed and Snedden announced it had been offered to him and that he planned to expand.

“In offering John the lease we sought to support his efforts to improve the service that he provides to the Glover Park community,” the statement read. “We are saddened to hear that members of the community have taken it upon themselves to be critical of and abusive to John over what is our decision to allow him to expand his business.”

The Bassins outlined their long history of property ownership in Glover Park, dating back to their grandparents. Their mother grew up in the neighborhood and went to school at area public schools.

Perhaps to help quell unrest in the neighborhood, the statement goes into detail about the Bassins’ lease negotiations with Keshani.

“In October of 2011 Max had requested a lease extension and was told that Ruth Bassin [their mother] was not interested in discussing an extension more than a year and a half before its expiration date. Max again inquired about a lease extension in July of 2012. In the Fall of 2012 Max was informed that we would not extend the lease. It is not clear why Max chose to think that the lease would be extended. In the beginning of May 2013 Max was given a written notice to vacate when his lease expires on June 30, 2013.”

Keshani has said publicly that he has no desire to leave the Wisconsin Avenue location, although other landlords have offered him similar spaces nearby. “Some community members have suggested we honor a request to delay Max’s lease expiration for the summer period should Max need time to make plans for his business. At this time, however, we have not received a definitive proposal from Max or his attorney regarding a short-term extension,” the statement said.