2011 | Dine

Cacao closed, Baja Fresh shutting doors in January

Say goodbye to truffles and taquitos

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Much to my chocoholic chagrin, Cacao, the lovely European chocolate and pastry shop on Bethesda Lane, closed earlier this week.

No definitive word on why French chocolatier Jacques Poulain vacated the space, or where he went.

Leslie Poyourow, owner of Fancy Cakes by Leslie, the bakery on Elm Street right across from Cacao, said the shop was offering all its food at half price last weekend, and had an auction earlier this week to sell off the equipment and display and storage racks.

Poyourow said Poulain kept to himself and was rarely in the shop—other than to drop off his chocolates and pastries. “It’s not easy,” Poyourow said, referring to the difficulty Cacao may have had making ends meet selling small-ticket items. “Only 7-Eleven does that well.”

Meanwhile, Baja Fresh, right around the corner from Cacao, is closing in January. Jamshed Shah, franchise owner of the Bethesda Row location of the Mexican chain, said he couldn’t work out an arrangement with the landlord over the lease, which expires next month. “The volume of sales does not support the rent,” he said.

Shah said he’s paying $14,300 a month for the approximately 3,000-square foot space, and Federal Realty wanted to increase it to $15,800.

Most of the Baja Fresh locations in the area pay less than $10,000 a month in rent, he said. “We requested that they [Federal Realty] not raise the rent, but they didn’t accept that,” he said.

Andrea Simpson, director of marketing for Federal Realty, would not confirm or deny Shah’s statements. “As a public company and out of respect for our clients, we do not disclose or discuss financial details that involve our clients. In this instance, we are not able to comment,” she said.

Shah said he will be relocating to another site, most likely in Gaithersburg.