Edgewood Bakery reopens in Jacksonville's Murray Hill area following contentious legal battle | News
After a contentious legal battle temporarily closed the popular Edgewood Bakery, the Jacksonville business opened again this week after about a month of being shuttered.
The bakery — in business since 1947 — reopened earlier this week under the majority ownership of Stache Investments, which is owned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
"We always planned to reopen Edgewood Bakery under new, experienced management and on solid business fundamentals, following a period of reorganization. We've done that, restoring the Edgewood Bakery's high standards of quality and service that Jacksonville customers have celebrated for generations," said Stache spokesman Jim Woodcock. "Business has already been great and we're thrilled to be back to own, operate and grow Edgewood Bakery. Its future looks brighter than ever."
Woodcock said Stache also provided a physical makeover for many of the bakery's functions ranging from new air conditioning to window treatments among other aesthetic improvements.
Khan filed the lawsuit in early December, contending that Stache Investments' $800,000 seed money for Tom and Carol Rykalsky to buy the bakery in June as part of a startup venture constituted majority ownership. He asked the court to grant Stache control of the business. The suit said the Rykalskys and their partner Mike Zimmerman, under U.S. Culinary & Beverage, hurt the business through waste and drove the value of the bakery to nothing.
In February, Circuit Judge James Daniel ruled in favor of Stache, despite the Rykalskys' claim that they owned the bakery. The couple was one of the entrepreneurial creators at the inaugural One Spark event in 2013 where they first received attention from Stache representatives.
The course of the lawsuit was publicly fought out with both sides trading jabs in court and in the media. The Rykalskys eventually relented and agreed to leave the business.
Stache closed the business on Edgewood Avenue in the Murray Hill neighborhood in order to reorganize and return the bakery to solid financial footing. The bakery employed about 40 people when it closed.
When asked if any of those previous employees returned to their jobs, Woodcock said in an email Friday he would not discuss personnel.
One employee who worked at the bakery before the purchase a year ago and was fired by the Rykalskys after they took over has returned. Gary Polletta Jr. is now the director of operations.
"It feels good" to be back, Polletta said Friday. "It's been a long road."
Stache executives apparently were angered when, according to the lawsuit, the Rykalskys terminated their lead baker, Polletta, who also was the son of the previous Edgewood Bakery owner and whose prior knowledge of the business presumably was valuable to Stache.
"Stache intended that Mr. Polletta would continue his employment after the sale," the lawsuit asserted, as "nominal general manager." The suit claimed that Polletta's advice was routinely ignored by the Rykalskys and they ultimately fired him although they did not have the authority to do it.
The Polletta firing was part of Stache's claim that the Rykalskys damaged the business' reputation, because, the suit implied, the Rykalskys basically didn't know what they were doing.
Polletta said he didn't want to discuss the specifics of the lawsuit or the bakery's personnel changes, but he said response to the reopening has been robust.
"We haven't had any negative feedback," Polletta said. "Most people understood that we had a lot of [revamping] projects going on.
"I'm glad to be here for the customers," Polletta said. "I don't know if it's satisfaction. I don't really like anything that happened. I mean that was a mess."
CHANGES TO EDGEWOOD BAKERY UNDER STACHE INVESTMENTS OWNERSHIP:
■ New Rooftop Air Conditioner
■ Exterior and Interior Paint
■ New equipment including five showcases, espresso machines, etc.
■ Signage repairs
■ Re-canvas awnings
■ Landscape maintenance and flowers
■ Window treatments
■ General cleaning, reorganization and inventory
Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098