The Jewish owner of a bagel chain in Edinburgh has been left “shocked” after her landlord branded her request for a rent deferral because of the coronavirus lockdown “typical Jewish behaviour”.
Larah Bross, the owner of the Bross Bagels chain, told Edinburgh News that the landlord of her Portobello store, Mario Aydemir Demirezen, had made the comment via text message this weekend, during negotiations about rescheduling the next three month’s rent payments.
Mr Demirezen, 66, who is currently in Turkey, replied to Ms Bross’ message that she preferred to keep negotiations in writing as “typical Jewish behaviour”.
Ms Bross, 44, was left “shocked and disgusted” by the comment.
“My first thought was ‘wow’, I cannot believe that someone, not only in this day and age but at this moment in time, can say that. It’s incredible,” she said.
Ms Bross, who is Canadian and opened the Montreal-style bakery chain in August 2017, said that she had been able to strike such a deal with Bross Bagels’ four other landlords.
Mr Demirezen defended himself, telling Edinburgh News that the comment ought to be viewed as a compliment: “When I say typical Jewish, I mean they are the richest people in the world and very clever people. She should be proud of her Jewish identity,” he said.
“I have no intention of upsetting anybody, all I was upset about is that all of the people in my other properties paid up,” he continued, “she had got money but not paying it.”
Ms Bross had been in negotiations with Mr Demirezen over deferring rent payments since March 23rd.
Ms Bross, who opened Bross Bagels in August 2017, said that she had been forced to furlough 39 of her 47 staff.
She is currently operating a home delivery service, ‘Bross Deli’, which is helping to pay staff’s wages while they await furlough payments.
Ms Bross said that she had proposed to Mr Demirezen to review the coronavirus situation in May rather than immediately deferring the next three months’ rent, but that she was unsure of whether they would be able to sustain a relationship in the future.