Grounds for Eviction

Besieged by the metropolis, a coffee joint gets the boot

Hospital employees are hooked. Ronaldo Montmann, director of technical services at Broward General, often shows up twice a day. Robichaud prepares the requisite hazelnut with cream and two packets of Equal when he sees Montmann's car. Told of the shop's impending demise, the hospital administrator responds: "No way. I'm gonna quit my job."

But John DiPersio, a Coldwell Banker real-estate agent, says he has twice shown the property to prospective buyers. He has also fielded an offer of $350,000 from Robichaud and Ludlow, which he calls "subpar." Robichaud says experts have told him the place is worth $270,000. DiPersio and McAdams say it appraises much higher. "It's an extremely hot corridor," says the agent, pointing out that a new, space-age Publix is almost finished up the street, an office building is under construction just south of it, and owners of a vacant lot near Expresso are asking $1.6 million.

McAdams sent Expresso owners an e-mail December 31 that gave them until the end of February to leave. He is still negotiating with Robichaud and Ludlow and may allow them to remain until the place is sold.

Ludlow and Robichaud are looking for a new place to brew trouble
Colby Katz
Ludlow and Robichaud are looking for a new place to brew trouble

C'mon, Skipper; let 'em stay. This whole thing reeks. And, folks, we're gonna see a lot more of it in coming years as downtown Fort Lauderdale, among the fastest-growing urban areas in the country, develops. Good independent businesses will be chased out in favor of high-bucks franchises like Starbucks, which has a much higher profile shop than Expresso at Federal Highway and Broward Boulevard.

Ludlow and Robichaud say they are looking for a new place. "We've been keeping it together with spit and tape for years," Robichaud says. "The building stinks." He thinks his clients will follow. "I can't go anywhere in town without people saying, 'There goes the coffee guy,'" he says. "I sure hope they'd come to a new place."

I wish McAdams and his bank would think less about money and more about neighborhood. I wish just being a local joint with a local clientele still meant something. I wish that I could get as good a cup o' joe somewhere else in America's Venice.

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