The Boise Airport announced Thursday that another Boise brand will replace Big City Coffee as the “local” coffee shop.
The news that River City Coffee & Café will open a store this week at the airport — it has one on State Street — follows a messy breakup between Big City and airport contractor Delaware North Cos.
“From our coffee roasted in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to our daily scratch-made pastries, we’re confident that River City Coffee will be a great addition to the Boise Airport,” General Manager Nick Stinemates said in a news release.
But days before the announcement, Sarah Fendley, who owns Big City Coffee — a café and restaurant in Boise’s Linen District — warned airport and Delaware North officials that she plans to sue if the new shop resembles hers.
“River City Coffee was once Big City Coffee, until 2006, when Sarah Fendley sold the equipment, decor and location to Joseph Stinemates,” the March 1 letter from Fendley’s lawyer said.
Joseph Stinemates told the Statesman on Thursday evening that he had no comment.
Fendley’s letter describes a licensing agreement between Big City and River City that expired in 2011 and “ongoing conflict” over the use of Big City recipes, menu names and trade secrets.
A spokeswoman for Delaware North did not respond to a question from the Statesman about whether the company planned to omit similarly named menu items from the airport River City’s offerings. Instead, the company emailed a statement:
“From the start, Delaware North has worked with the Boise Airport to bring the best local concepts into the airport,” it said. “We are proud of our new partnerships with local businesses and look forward to growing these relationships. Most important is our commitment to become part of the Boise community and help make a difference. It is a great honor to be the first to greet visitors and the last to say farewell, see you soon.”
CONFLICT OVER CAFE
New York-based Delaware North won a multimillion-dollar contract to overhaul the airport’s restaurants in 2014, adding replicas of well-known local eateries such as Big City, Bardenay, Parrilla Grill and 13th Street Pub and Grill.
The Statesman broke the news last month that Fendley, airport customers, Delaware North employees and others complained about food quality, staffing, cleanliness and other issues at the airport after Delaware North took over.
Fendley sent a formal complaint last fall, after which Delaware North notified her that it would remove the Big City shop from the airport and cancel the licensing contract that gave it the right to use Big City’s name and recipes.
Delaware North President Kevin Kelly told Fendley in an early February letter, “We reject your allegations and note that your demand appears to be an attempt to extract money after (Delaware North) properly exercised its termination rights” as laid out in the contract.
According to Thursday’s Boise Airport news release, branding and decorations for Big City Coffee will be removed Sunday night. River City Coffee will begin operating Monday morning.