Highland Coffees gets lease extension _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Highland Coffees owner Clarke Cadzow reported that its lease has been extended

Highland Coffees, the popular LSU-area coffee shop that set off a social media firestorm when it announced it would close on Christmas Eve because it couldn’t reach an agreement on its lease, announced Tuesday it had signed a deal to stay on Chimes Street “for years to come.”

Clarke Cadzow, who owns the coffee shop, and Hank Saurage, a part-owner of the building that is the home for the coffee shop, wouldn’t discuss specifics about the new lease. But both men said they are glad that an agreement has been reached.

“We’re looking forward to what we should be doing, and that’s running the best coffee shop possible,” Cadzow said. The new lease is for “a number of years.”

Saurage, who reopened discussions about a lease extension a day after it was announced Highland Coffees would close its North Gates location, said he’s happy for Cadzow. “It’s done and we wish him good luck,” he said.

Cadzow opened Highland Coffees at the corner of Highland Road and State Street in fall 1989. He was inspired to start the business after being introduced to college coffee houses while attending graduate school at the University of Texas.

In the mid-1990s, Highland Coffees relocated into a 3,000-square-foot space a little off the corner of Highland and State Street.

Over the years, the coffee shop has become a center for student activity outside of campus and a meeting place for a variety of organizations. Cadzow is the head of the North Gates Merchants Association and a historian of the neighborhood.

After it was announced the coffee shop would close on Dec. 24, loyal customers took to social media to protest the move. An online petition to save the business garnered more than 4,500 signatures in less than two days. Much of the ire against the move was directed at Saurage.

Saurage initially said nothing could be done to keep Highland Coffees in place, because the lease was set to expire at the end of November. But he changed his mind after talking to supporters of the business.

Cadzow said it meant a lot to see the community support in favor of keeping the business in place. “The customers really stepped up,” he said.