Janette Burk and Timur Keskinturk unsuccessfully fought to keep their Turkish cafe at a prime location in Alderwood mall. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Janette Burk and Timur Keskinturk unsuccessfully fought to keep their Turkish cafe at a prime location in Alderwood mall. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Alderwood mall evicts Turkish cafe that fought Starbucks ‘exclusive’

Kismet Turkish Cafe Bakery must clear out by Tuesday. The owners of the kiosk blame the global coffee chain.

LYNNWOOD — After a failed attempt to move Kismet Turkish Cafe & Bakery’s kiosk away from a Starbucks in Alderwood mall, Brookfield Properties on Thursday ordered the business to leave the mall entirely.

Kismet’s owners Janette Burk and Timur Keskinturk must vacate their location and return their keys by the end of Tuesday. The couple has fought to keep their kiosk in Alderwood mall’s central court for the past month.

“As we have explained to you previously, remaining in your current location is not an option, so, regrettably, your decision not to relocate leaves Alderwood with no choice but to terminate your License Agreement,” an eviction letter reads.

The owners believed the relocation could put them out of business, because they fear they wouldn’t be able to afford the move — to relocate outside the mall, stay closed during the transition, retain their customers and invest in a new space.

The letter states Brookfield Properties offered Kismet’s owners 30 days to relocate as ordered, 25 days longer than their agreement required. The letter noted after the owners pushed back against the initial relocation to the food court, the mall’s management offered the owners an “alternative location with several attractive features” and to “defray the cost of rebuilding in your new location.”

The letter from Brookfield Properties continues: “We believe that Kismet could have succeeded — and even grown — in one of the new locations. … We are disappointed that you do not share that assessment, and that you have therefore declined to relocate.”

Kismet served Turkish coffee and pastries like spinach and feta “borek” and baklava since 2019. It was the couple’s first business together.

Burk is still asking why they were told they had to move.

Burk and Keskinturk told The Daily Herald they believed Starbucks — which runs a kiosk next to Kismet — was a major reason behind the order to relocate.

In an email late last year that the couple forwarded to the Herald, an Alderwood mall manager wrote to the couple: “I believe our team has communicated to you that you need to remove the latte signage. Extraneous signage is not allowed. Also, you are not allowed to sell lattes out of your kiosk. It is not in your use clause. Starbucks has sent us notice indicating that you are violating their exclusive. We have been through this time and time again. You need to remove the signage immediately and cease selling flavored lattes. Failure to do so will result in the termination of your license agreement. We can no longer tolerate this.”

Per their license agreement, the couple was barred from selling espresso-based drinks and ground or whole bean coffee by weight. The owners argued that lattes were not included in that list of prohibited products. The manager responded that they could sell “Turkish ‘lattes,’” but could not display latte signage.

“This is an example of people working hard and succeeding, but corporations are going to stifle that for their own profit and gain,” Burk told the Herald on Thursday.

Starbucks has denied any involvement in the decision to relocate Kismet, stating, “The decision and request to relocate Kismet to a different area in the mall came directly from Brookfield Properties, and at no point did Starbucks assert any right to move or to compel Brookfield Properties to move Kismet’s business.”

Last week, Burk and Keskinturk went to social media, posting “Kismet vs. Starbucks” on Kismet’s Facebook page and urging followers to sign a petition against the move on Change.org. Since they posted it last week, the petition has garnered more than 5,000 signatures.

Burk said she is not sure whether they will re-open.

“I cannot answer that right now, I just can’t,” Burk said between serving customers. “This is just a lot. I really don’t want to close it. I really don’t. I really, really don’t.”

Taylor Goebel: 425-339-3046; taylor.goebel@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @TaylorGoebel.

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