Customers, employees upset over Zpizza eviction

The founding location in Laguna Beach has until April 16 to leave its space on Coast Highway.

March 29, 2012|By Joanna Clay
  • HOT AND TASTY: ZPizza founder Sid Faranof pulls a pear and Gorgonzola cheese rustica pizza out of the oven at ZPizza in Laguna Beach.
HOT AND TASTY: ZPizza founder Sid Faranof pulls a pear… (FILE PHOTO, Coastline…)

Zpizza, whose Laguna Beach roots are integral to its brand, is set to be evicted from its original location, which opened in 1986.

After a five-year lease option wasn't exercised, the founding pizza shop — known for its artisan style and healthy ingredients — was told it had 30 days, until April 16, to leave the space it's held for 26 years at 30902 Coast Hwy.

Irvine-based Zpizza now has locations in 17 states and in Vietnam, Mexico and the Middle East. There are several Orange County locations, and a new concept, Zcafe, recently opened in South Coast Plaza.

The outcry over the eviction has been emotional for the home-grown pizza company, whose website boasts its arts colony home and the importance of creativity and craftsmanship.

Carol Sheridan, 66, said she comes to Zpizza every Tuesday and brings the pizzas to her son and his co-workers at LED lighting store Cerno down the street.


"They yell out 'Zpizza is here!' when I get there," she said.

Briana Rubow, 18, said she enjoys Zpizza's location in South Laguna and was concerned it would be hard to find another space in the city.

Zpizza founder and location owner Sid Fanarof, a Laguna resident, said he wishes someone would have personally called him or come down to the location to make sure he received the letter of intent to renew the lease, which both parties agreed was communicated via email.

Stephen Robertson, chairman of Shelter Bay Retail Group, which manages the center, said that "nothing is too late" and he wants to work with Zpizza. When it comes down to it, lease agreements need to be in writing, and he said attempts to contact Fanarof went without response until unfortunately it was too late.

"He had a five-year option that he could have exercised. He chose not to," Robertson said.

Fanarof's lease expired June 30, the letter of intent went out in early July and the office didn't hear back until mid-September, Robertson said.

The landlord hired a broker to find tenants for the Zpizza space and the Walsh Flooring space.

"By the time Mr. Fanarof got back to us, that process was way down the track," he said. "That was explained to Mr. Fanarof immediately in fairness to him."

The landlord had entered into legal obligations with the future tenant, Chase Bank, and Robertson said they can't do anything about the space at this point, unless Chase decides it does not want the space.

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