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Published: Friday, August 10, 2018 @ 9:00 AM
— The owners of a local ice cream shop claim in a lawsuit that the owner of Grind House Coffee & Tea Company engaged in fraud and defamation to take over their shop's retail space in downtown Fairborn.
Robin Joseph and Clinton Allen, owners of the former Inside Scoop Ice Cream Shop at 313 W. Main St. in Fairborn, say in their lawsuit filed July 31 in Greene County Common Pleas Court that Grind House Coffee founder William Miller misled them and local government agencies in order to "take over The Inside Scoop's ice cream shop business.”
They are seeking $25,000 in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages. The case has been assigned to Greene County Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter.
Miller has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit. When contacted via email by this news outlet Wednesday, Miller said, "At this moment, because of the pending lawsuit filed by the Inside Scoop owners, I cannot comment."
After opening their ice cream shop on Kaufman Avenue in 2011, The Inside Scoop relocated to 313 W. Main St. in Fairborn in July 2014. Owners Joseph and Allen said after moving their business to the Fairborn downtown business district, visibility increased and helped the sales steadily grow over the next three years.
Business was paused last year in December when the owners of the building, the Fairborn Development Corporation, and Inside Scoop owners agreed the shop would be closed from Dec. 24, 2017 through Jan. 31 for renovations and repairs, according to the lawsuit.
In early January, Joseph and Clinton reached out to Grind House Coffee founder and CEO William Miller to discuss the possibility of Miller setting up a coffee stand inside Inside Scoop and adding his coffee to their menu, according to the lawsuit. Grind House Coffee was started in 2015 as an online-only retailer.
After a series of renovation delays, the shop reopened on March 14, but it sold only ice cream because Miller was not yet ready to begin selling coffee, the lawsuit says. The first wedge was put in place between the two businesses when Inside Scoop owners learned Miller allegedly told Greene County Public Health that “he would be taking over The Inside Scoop,” according to Greene County court records. According to the lawsuit, Miller also sent an email to Hershey’s Ice Cream, the supplier of The Inside Scoop’s ice cream, stating that he had acquired the ice cream shop. Miller denied he ever told Hershey’s he was the new owner, according to the lawsuit.
The ice cream shop owners say in their lawsuit that Miller “made numerous statements ... meant to mislead (us) into believing that he was interested only in running a Grind House coffee stand within The Inside Scoop and then making excuses for his inability to commence that on schedule. Mr. Miller made those statements knowing he truly intended to take over The Inside Scoop’s ice cream shop business.”
Finally, on April 17, Inside Scoop owners discovered their names had been crossed off an application for a license to conduct a food service operation inside the Main Street building, and Miller’s place was hand-written as the name of the license holder. According to the lawsuit, this effectively drove The Inside Scoop out of business.
On April 23, Grind House Coffee held its official grand opening as a stand-alone coffee shop, inside the former building of The Inside Scoop. Three months later, the coffee shop abruptly closed.
Miller then opened a new Grind House location inside the Huber Heights Meijer store. The shop’s grand opening was held on Aug. 1.