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

One of the landlords for Highland Coffees said he’s reaching out to reopen negotiations on a lease to keep the longtime LSU-area coffee shop in business.

“We never wanted Highland Coffees to move,” said Hank Saurage, a part-owner of the building at the corner of Highland Road and Chimes Street. “We want another effort to work out agreeable terms to Clarke (Cadzow, owner of Highland Coffees).”

Attempts to contact Cadzow for comment Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.

Cadzow announced Monday the 25-year-old coffee shop would close Dec. 24 after an agreement couldn’t be reached on the lease. While Cadzow said he was looking for another location for the business, he said there were no spots available in the North Gates area and time was running out.

Loyal customers of Highland Coffees took to social media to protest the move. An online petition to keep the business open has garnered more than 4,500 signatures since it was posted Monday morning. A “Save Highland Coffees” rally was scheduled on the LSU campus for Wednesday evening; more than 160 people said they would attend the event.

Much of the ire against the move was directed at Saurage. “I’m a man of character and I’m trying to do the right thing,” he said.

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

“People are very vocal about their love of Highland Coffees and what it means to the neighborhood,” he said.

Some of the customers have discussed ideas to keep the business in place. Saurage wouldn’t give specific details, saying Cadzow needs to talk to them and figure out what strategy would work best.

“The dispute comes to about $15 a day,” he said. “We’re hoping these cool, clever ideas can all work.”

On the Highland Coffees Facebook page Tuesday evening, customers said they were pleased that Saurage was open to more talks and said they had their fingers crossed that a deal could be reached to keep the business in place.

There are some prospects for the Highland Coffees space, but Saurage said he’s talked to them to let them know he’s attempting to keep the coffee shop in place.

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.

Russell Lee Adams, who said he’s been going to Highland Coffees as long as it has been in business, praised Cadzow as being a good businessman who has helped the area. “He has built a landmark here,” Adams had said Monday afternoon as he stopped in to visit and get a cup of ice water. Adams also said Saurage was a good person.