A pair of local business owners got a surprise Monday morning when they drove up to find a demolition team at their plaza, ripping the roof off the former El Charro Restaurant.
John Kopplin, co-owner of Maya Palace, and Georgeanne Fimbres, owner of Villa Feliz Flowers, knew El Mercado at Wilmot and Broadway was going to be razed eventually, but not quite yet.
As the last of several merchants being displaced by the chain pharmacy CVS, Kopplin needs to be out by tonight while Fimbres has until April 25 to move.
Both said they were surprised last week when demolition preparations started, and so Kopplin called CVS to find out the plan - and asked to have them hold off.
"We thought we had taken care of this last week with a lot of phone calls to Rhode Island," he said.
Fimbres, who is extremely busy with orders to fill for Passover and soon Easter, found the back door to her business blocked this morning, delaying the delivery of needed items. She talked to the demolition workers, who moved away from her store after she explained her concerns.
"We still have a month here, and so I hadn't even thought there would be difficulties," she said.
Kopplin and Fimbres both called CVS again Monday, and Fimbres was told CVS would hold off on Kopplin's business until after today.
"They're not demolishing our building in the next two days anyway," Kopplin said. "However, it's not like they gave us a courtesy call. The thing that has bothered me from the beginning is the cavalier attitude they've had toward all the longtime merchants here."
CVS bought the shopping center for nearly $3.6 million in December, and all tenants were given notices to vacate.
Mike DeAngelis, a CVS spokesman, said they have communicated with the tenants and told them the time frame for demolition.
"We were reaching out to them," he said. "We've tried to be very clear with the tenants throughout this process about what our timetable was."
CVS on Monday offered Fimbres a rent-free April, he said, "because of the activity that's going to be taking place."
Fimbres said she is waiting to hear more from CVS about their terms before deciding on the offer. Conditions for her customers matter much more than saving rent money, she said.
Fimbres' new location, after April 25, will be at La Plaza Shoppes, at 6538 E. Tanque Verde, Suite 160.
Kopplin said having to move in a hurry is difficult. He said he tried, and failed, to negotiate more time at El Mercado with CVS.
"We're having to turn customers away," Kopplin said. "This is costing us a fair amount of money."
With their new store at Plaza Palomino, 2960 N. Swan Road., not quite ready, they had to put their inventory in storage in three locations. At this point, they are hoping to open again at the new location Wednesday or Thursday.
Contact reporter Patty Machelor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 806-7754.