A Snowmass Mall landlord is suing the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which had rented a highly visible space near Fanny Hill until May, alleging the Durango-based chocolatier violated the lease by moving out.
Snowmass Mall Investment Group, which bought 80,000 square feet of commercial space in the mall in June for nearly $29 million, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court.
The filing cites a lease the chocolate company first signed in 1998 for suite 201 in the Gateway Building near the mall’s entrance off Carriage Way. That lease in 2014 was extended to 2019, says the lawsuit filed by Aspen attorney Kenneth Citron.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory had been a popular, longtime fixture in Snowmass and Aspen. In February, the company’s chief operating officer told The Aspen Times that the landlord of the Aspen space on the Cooper Avenue Mall was not renewing the shop’s lease. The company had been in Aspen for 36 years and in Snowmass for 30 years. The COO told the newspaper that since employees of the Aspen shop delivered product to the Snowmass store, it didn’t make sense to keep the latter location open.
A message left Wednesday with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory wasn’t returned.
According to the lawsuit, the chocolatier had been paying nearly $6,700 a month in rent. The lease terms included the business refraining “from removing or attempting to remove … its goods or property from ... the leased premises … without having first paid to the landlord any and all rental and other monetary obligations which may have become due during the entire term of this lease.”
Citron wrote that the defendant, without cause or legal justification, closed up shop, removed its property and stopped paying rent. The lawsuit alleges Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has defaulted on the lease but does not say how much is allegedly owed.