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Silver Lake ice cream headache: Trendy chain vs. mom-and-pop shop

Silver Lake ice cream war: Trendy chain vs. mom-and-pop shop
Silver Lake ice cream war: Trendy chain vs. mom-and-pop shop 04:47

A trendy ice cream chain that recently opened in Silver Lake is getting pushback by some residents. That's after it moved next to a longstanding mom-and-pop gelato shop. Here's the scoop.

Salt and Straw had its grand opening earlier this month on Sunset Boulevard. But not everyone is sweet on the location, with some accusing the chain of being a bad neighbor.

Michael Buch has been serving up his buttery smooth gelato for 17 years at Pazzo Gelato in Silver Lake, sourcing many of their ingredients from local farmers markets.

Sunset Junction was once known for its small businesses, but food and drinks writer and Silver Lake resident Esther Tseng says that's changed over the last decade.

"There's lot of chains that have been taking the places of what were occupied by mom-and-pop shops," said Tseng. "It's very much big interest and it's very much pushing out the local vibe."

The latest chain to move in is Portland-based popular ice cream store Salt and Straw. But its location is getting an icy reception from some locals.

Why the distaste? Salt and Straw opened three doors down from Pazzo Gelato.

"I thought it was weird that number one, no one talked to me about it, and obviously it's weird to have a big corporate ice cream place open up next door to you," said Buch.

Michael Buch says he's happy to go scoop-to-scoop with Salt and Straw, but he says their mutual landlord has told him his lease will not be renewed when it comes up in 2025.

"I don't know if there was some sort of agreement with Salt and Straw, or not, that they would be the only ice cream shop," said Buch.

The owner of Salt and Straw, Kim Malek, flew from Oregon to Los Angeles to speak with us and dispute this.

Do you have any sort of agreement with the landlord that would push Michael Buch out when his lease is out?

"We don't have any agreement that would prevent him from renewing his lease with the landlord," said Malek.

Malek says she was under the impression Buch was trying to get out of the business and sublease his space.

"When we opened here we understood that he was leaving and that he actively was done and wanting to move on, and if he has changed his mind, we are more than happy to coexist," said Malek.

Buch says he did consider subleasing, and allowed his realtor to test the market, but once business improved as California rebounded from the pandemic, he maintains he changed his mind and sent an email to the management company last September to inquire about extending his lease.

"I am hoping that ownership will see that the community really does want me here," said Buch.

KCAL News did reach out to the management company for the property. A representative says Buch is using this situation with Salt and Straw to gain leverage in negotiations with the landlord. That rep went on to say they would be happy to engage in lease negotiations closer to when his lease expires.

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