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Sweet Annie’s Bakery Not Staying in Flossmoor

A rental disagreement is responsible for the recent decision, although details are peculiarly vague.

After a back-and-fourth series of events, Sweet Annie’s Bakery will not be staying in Flossmoor after all. A rental disagreement between owner Anne Aboushoush and landlord Dean Armstrong is apparently to blame, but there are not many details beyond that.

“We’re sorry we couldn’t work things out. We’re sorry to see her leave,” Armstrong said. “I wish she’d stay.”

The only official comment Sweet Annie’s is making is in the form of a written statement given to employees to read to anyone who asks about the situation. It reads:

Due to a misunderstanding regarding how long we are able to remain in the Flossmoor location, we will be moving to Homewood, not expanding as previously planned. We are sorry for any disappointment this may cause you.

Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun was cited as partly responsible for bringing Aboushousha and Armstrong to an agreement a couple weeks ago. He says he’s unaware of the details of the disagreement but that he hopes the two can rectify the issue. Based on the written statement, however, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the case.

Sweet Annie's will be making the move to Homewood within the next month or two, according to Aboushousha.

Patch will continue following this story as more details unfold.

Dean Armstrong February 01, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Dear Ms. Pohl-Martin--Your attack on me is not fair, and is not based on the facts. Is it greed to not once raise Annie's rent in over 4 years, even though the lease provides for a 4% rent increase per year? Is it greed to not once charge a late fee of $30 per day, even though the lease authorizes the charging of such late fees? And as far as Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, we put over $3.5 million into a crumbling old train station in a charming, but hardly thriving, little village, and, with the loyal support of many members of our community, turned it into something for which we are very proud. Please travel to other brew pubs in the Chicago-land area to confirm that the Brewery's prices are, on average, below the prices of those other brew pubs. Also, do you call it greed when we've kept the Olde Caboose Ice Cream Shoppe open for 10 years to employ dozens of HF teens each summer, even though the Caboose has never once covered its operating costs? I am sorry that you have hard feelings toward me, and I'd welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our concerns for the community, and clarify any misinformation you might have heard about me or Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery. *VTY, Dean Armstrong
Mary-Jo February 01, 2013 at 08:43 PM
I know nothing about the rent being charged by Mr Armstrong, but I do know that Cook County in general and Flossmoor in particular have stupid high property taxes . It's possible the rents and various price increases have come about because of those factors.
Flossmoor gal February 01, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Delete Flossmoor gal 3:04 pm on Friday, February 1, 2013 Very sad to see the bakery go!! But only the owner knows exactly why the bakery is leaving. It's a business decision: two locations perhaps aren't doable after all. But to blame/malign the landlord is misplaced/cruel. I think the ortho and bakery outgrew the spaces and are expanding. People who are posting act as if these businesses had no choice but to move? They as well as the Armstrongs are business owners and simply are making business decisions. If we must "blame", why not "blame" the owners who made these decisions to move? I love our little downtown like crazy--and support it like crazy--so let's not forget the impact of the brewery. Whether you like it or love it, it has attracted people from all over Chicago/NW Indiana AND from out of state (beer lovers/brewers travel!) and is always a bustling/fun place. It's a place to see friends, a great place during Flossmoor baseball season, a good place to hold events/meetings. I am so grateful for the brewery and for what the Armstrongs did to that dilapidated train station and for our town. Does anyone remember the station before? An eyesore, really. Now the structure is beautiful! Plus the caboose! I'd say the owners have given a lot to our community. I HOPE the Armstrongs are making money on the place...is that a crime??!! Sad to see the bakery go, love Anne, love her bakery, will visit in Homewood....and I hope another business will move here soon.
WA Mama February 01, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Whoa, whoa, whoa, everybody, let's step back a moment. Mr. Armstrong, your restaurant has been a huge assest to this community. Not only does the building look gorgeous but it has become a destination for out of town dollars spent in our charming, but hardly thriving, little village. The caboose is a family favorite and one of very few places we can send our children on their own. We appreciate your participation in the community, providing dinner for back to school picnics and tours for school children. We have respect for your brew masters. But yes, your recent price increases have pushed you out of our family budget for the most part, and please remember we are not comparing you to other brew-pubs, but to other local restaurants. And I doubt that four empty stores is likely to paint a picture of you as a cuddly landlord. I also doubt, as reported, that Mayor Braun has no idea what the disagreement is, considering he took the credit for brokering the agreement in the first place. What I am sure about, is that if either you or Mr. Braun had as stellar a personal, professional and business reputation as Ms. Aboushousha has in this community, if either of you could be regarded as "beloved," then perhaps this business could have been avoided entirely. Instead of you and the mayor feeling attacked and scapegoated by the public comments here, perhaps you should be taking note and acting accordingly.
Sister Elenita February 01, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I liked the crumbling old train station better. I used to take a whiz right where the bar is today. Ah, the good old days.
AC February 01, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Flossmoor is NOT Hinsdale and won't ever be! Look around, times are changing. We need to do what we can to keep these businesses around. The taxes in Flossmoor are outrageous for what is offered around the area. Welcome to Homewood, Ms. Annie and Healthy Hounds!
BlackHawks Fan February 02, 2013 at 12:25 AM
Pretty dramatic Juvenal!!! Judging by Mr.Armstrong's earlier response he has done a lot for the Flossmoor community.
Dean Armstrong February 02, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Hi AC--Thank you for your comment. You are right; Flossmoor is not Hinsdale; we are even better. While Hinsdale is a great community, it is not America. We are rich, we are poor, and we are largely middle class. We are black, we are white, we are Latino, we are Asian, and we are all races in between. We are Protestant, we are Jew, we are Catholic, we are Hindu, and we are all religions in between. We understand that diversity is a strength, not a weakness. Hinsdale? We are lucky, and so are our Children. Please keep voicing your opinion, please stay involved in this great community known as HF (a/k/a U.S.A.), and please keep loyal to FSR&B. *VTY, Dean Armstrong
Dean Armstrong February 02, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Hi TP--The truth will set you free. Dr. Lisa Grant is an incredibly talented orthodontist, who prospered in Flossmoor and out grew her space in Flossmoor. Healthy Hounds (Pam Hullinger) did a great job promoting healthy foods for our pets, who prospered in Flossmoor and out grew her space in Flossmoor, and we couldn't offer her any additional space in Flossmoor. And the same is true for Sweet Annie's, which we will dearly miss. All of them started in Flossmoor, all of them success stories in Flossmoor, all of them who needed additional space in Flossmoor, and all of them will be missed by us and the other residents of Flossmoor. They are all the product of their own talents, hard work, and success, not the victim of a greedy and uncaring landlord. *VTY, Dean Armstrong
AC February 02, 2013 at 02:49 AM
I think you missed my point, Mr. Armstrong. Flossmoor tends to act like Hinsdale. That it is this all white collar community where nothing goes wrong. They keep the taxes high to keep "trash" out. But while keeping the taxes and fees high you are also running away the good people and businesses. Small businesses and middle class families just can't keep up with that anymore. Raising rent and upping taxes right now is just not fair to the people who choose to invest in your community. I think right now you should take what you can get! Being greedy at this point is just bad business!! I would love to have stayed loyal to FSR&B, but the fact is, its not worth my money. Also after finding out you Mr. Armstrong, is behind pushing most of the businesses away, makes me want to boycott that place even more.
Dean Armstrong February 02, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Hi AC--I am sorry you feel that way, but I respect your opinion. Please see my comments above about baseless claims of greed and raising rent, when, in fact. the rent was never raised on either Sweet Annie's or Healthy Hounds. While you probably won't stay loyal to FSR&B, please stay involved in community matters, and please keep voicing your opinion, because your opinion does matter with me. *VTY, Dean Armstrong
Mary February 02, 2013 at 04:02 AM
I remember the old station too, and it was an eyesore. Flossmoor Station & Brewery has done a lot for Flossmoor. For one thing, it is one of the very few eateries in town that junior high school kids can walk to and where they are actually welcomed. I remember a deli that used to be in downtown Flossmoor that would let teens buy food, tell them to eat it outside, then call the police because the kids were "loitering." The Brewery hires local kids as servers and hostesses and supports the community. Our family co-hosted an American Diabetes Association fundraiser there several years ago and the Armstrongs were fantastic to work with, and incredibly generous. I also love Sweet Annie's and am sorry she'll be leaving. I'll drive to Homewood for her delicious baked goods, but I'll miss what she contributed to downtown Flossmoor. Anne is beloved, and rightly so. As a resident of Flossmoor for 24 years, it seems to me that local government is contributing to the problems with small businesses downtown. Our downtown has great restaurants and wonderful shops. But employees and customers are very tired of the parking issue. It's ridiculous that people can have a great lunch at the Brewery or the elegant and delicious Fresh Starts, then have to run to move their car -- or leave -- instead of wandering over to browse the stores of downtown Flossmoor. The village should be investigating ways to help our businesses thrive, not scaring customers away with parking tickets.
WA Mama February 02, 2013 at 04:06 AM
Would you people just stop already? Smacking down Armstrong down doesn't serve this story and it's knocking us off target. Three things can be learned from the comments on these last three Patch reports: first, that this community had a prior view, that is to say a pre-Annie view, of the Village of Flossmoor as being a difficult place for businesses, that the desire to preserve the community as a haven for the "haves" sometimes trumps their commitment to businesses. They have strict and sometimes odd codes and are historically adverse to change or flexibility. Parking, signage and sidewalk usage have all been issues for the bakery from the beginning, and the village's inflexibility has hit a nerve with us. The second thing we can learn from the comments, is that people in this community have a prior view, also pre-Annie, of Mr. Armstrong as an ambitious but arrogant businessman with seemingly more pull in the business community than people may be comfortable with. His attempts to defend himself in this forum, while understandable, have outweighed his attempts at answering the journalistic questions in the first place. Finally, as these comments can certainly attest to, people are excited for Anne's newest adventure and appreciative of her ability to bring the community together by always smiling and by being relentless in her desire to please customers. I think both the village and FSR&B have something they can learn from Sweet Annie's, hard as that may be for them to admit.
Dean Armstrong February 02, 2013 at 04:31 AM
Hi Mary--Thank you for putting all of this legitimate community concern in proper context. The Flossmoor police with ticket books in hand anxiously waiting to give employees and customers gotcha tickets should not be the enemy of businesses and patrons of those businesses in downtown Flossmoor, and thus the enemy of a vibrant and prospering downtown Flossmoor. We've both lived in this community a long time, and sometimes things have to get real bad before they finally get better. Right now, while the Flossmoor police do an exemplary job on safety and patrol matters, the overly aggressive ticket cops are hurting the viability of downtown businesses. Thank you again for your input. *VTY, Dean Armstrong
Martina Pohl-Martin February 02, 2013 at 03:04 PM
WA Mama...Well said, diffused and summarized. Thank you.
SRJ February 02, 2013 at 05:14 PM
AC & sister Elenita - You both need a effing life!!
AC February 02, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Hahahaha SRJ, I sure have a life. One that isn't going to include Homewood or Flossmoor pretty soon. No wonder people are moving more farther east or west. It's cheaper and offers WAY more. I grew up here and its so sad to see how things have become! Pretty soon, you are going to be saying the same thing about HF that you are about Harvey and Dolton..."I remember when it was such a beautiful town!".
Sister Elenita February 02, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Absolutely correct AC! All these people don't think it can happen-how many of them know that Harvey had a thriving downtown in the 1960's, up until maybe 1971. Stores, restaurants, all popular. Even the Harvey YMCA was popular with all the HF moms for their kids. And then the Harvey Bakery was forced to move because of a rent increase, the spot sat vacant for years and finally hosted a dollar store. By that time, of course, the demographics had completely changed. Perhaps Flossmoor Station should start brewing a knockoff of MD20 20 and Hypnotique?
WA Mama February 02, 2013 at 08:48 PM
OH MY GOD! How is it that whatever discussion we're having, someone always boils it down to race? This defies all odds! It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but with racism! First the bakery goes, then THOSE people ruin Homewood Days and then pretty soon people are getting shot in Walt's parking lot by someone hired by the Shaw Brother(s)! Pandemonium! Mayberry to ghetto suburb in only three degrees! Run to Mokena where the diversity is still 96.87%!
AC February 02, 2013 at 08:54 PM
You got it WA Mama :) Except, I am going to Indiana, cheaper taxes AND they allow guns!!!
Juvenal February 02, 2013 at 09:21 PM
<< where the diversity is still 96.87%!>> Diversity is all well and good when it comes to things like income, ethnicity, race religion, and political convictions. However, I am much more concerned with uniformity in my community: Uniformly safe streets, uniformly low crime rates, uniform standards of property maintenance and pride of ownership, uniform concern for the well being and education of children, uniform respect for elders, reasonably uniform values of thrift, personal responsibility, parental roles and responsibility and conduct in public, uniform tolerance for ethnicity and viewpoint, and intolerance of bad behavior and excuse -making therefor, uniform agreement to play by the rules, Uniform intolerance of public corruption.... etc etc.
Sister Elenita February 03, 2013 at 12:40 AM
OMG!! How come every discussion boils down to fact!!! Flossmoor is not the Flossmoor of 1970. HF is not the HF of 1980. Whats different??????????
SRJ February 03, 2013 at 12:58 AM
AC and Sister Elenita - Hammond welcomes you!! :)
AC February 03, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Well at least their taxes would be cheaper for living in about the same kind of neighborhood!!
SRJ February 03, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Your either a Hammond or Griffith kind gal ;p Or cedartucky lol
AC February 03, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Fine by me, like I said, its comparable to our area, at least cheaper!! It wouldn't be much of a downgrade!!
Worthy February 03, 2013 at 02:53 AM
If you want to move to hinsdale expect to pay two or three times as much for a similar home when comparing to homes in flossmoor. The property taxes in hinsdale are higher for the average home also. Regarless of having a lower tax rate, the assessments on property in hinsdale is much higher. Hammond on the other hand has lower taxes, plenty of diversity, but also a lot more extreme poverty. And the crime that comes along with urban poverty. If you want to live in a low income neighborhood then hammond is a decent place to live and flossmoor is not for you. I happen to like the flossmoor brewery. If you can't afford the prices then eat somewhere else. It's a business. And businesses charge what there patrons are willing to pay. There are other place to have a drink or eat at around town. The same thing goes for the new cottage on dixie restaurant. Every establishment in town does not have to cater to the early bird special crowd. Like one poster said, this is an economically diverse area. There are plenty of haves as well as some have nots who live out here. There are plenty of high income earners living in flossmoor and olympia fields in particular. So it's nice to have some establishments that cater to those who have expendable income, There are already plenty of establishments for affordable family diners.
Madge February 04, 2013 at 05:06 AM
Diversity means more than two ethnic groups, which currently is the case here in HF. Also, one of those groups outnumbers the other by quite a bit. In the 70s there was TRUE diversity: Indian, Asian, Jewish, White, Black, Hispanic etc.. Also, whoever made the "Cedartucky" quip is racist. Seriously, what's the big deal here people? Flossmoor peeps can drive 12 blocks for your muffin. I am way more concerned with the greed/corruption among our politicians both state/national creating problems like Cook County, national debt, Benghazi and so much more...not where FIDO is going to get his healthy snacks.
The ORIGINAL Mike B February 07, 2013 at 01:36 AM
I agree Madge, SRJ is racist. BTW, I only have to go into the bedroom to get my morning muffin, why the h would I drive to Homewood???
Abbey March 04, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Shouldnt we be celebrating these businesses being successful enough to grow?! Shouldnt we be thankful they are just moving a few minutes away instead of closing their doors for good?! Are we not HF? Homewood-Flossmoor work together to keep the beautiful community we currently have! Has anyone been in Sweet Annie's in the warmer weather? These ladies are going to have heat stroke. There isnt proper AC for them. Did anyone notice the broken window near the dumpsters in the alley that took months to fix. Good thing there are ovens because the bakery has no heat. Shopping at Healthy Hounds is a wonderful but that store front too has its issues. Besides, if the Armstrongs care so much for these businesses why did they boycott them right after they were informed of the moves. Annie and Pamela give so much back to our community. The donations have supported and helped so many in need! We should be celebrating them not making this new journey difficult and stressful!!

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