Chloe’s Coffee in Kentlands permanently closed its doors on Oct. 28, less than a week after posting an announcement on its Facebook page. The shop, owned by Jay and Aysha Faruque, was a popular Kentlands hangout due to its late closing times (1 a.m.) and diverse offerings, which included everything from coffee and pastries to beer and wine to Indian food and Hookah.
The Faruques cited trouble with noise ordinances at night as well as financial struggles. “We are not able to be here at night,” said Jay in an interview with The Town Courier last week. “We already work 16 hours a day. But our issues are at night.”
The main problems for the Faruques were with various complaints by their neighbors in the Kentlands Manor independent senior apartment complex across the street from the shop. “The police are here almost every other night. At least twice a week,” said Jay. “And whenever a cop shows up at a place, half of the customers don’t stick around.”
Neighbors called to complain not only that nightly music is too loud, said Jay, but also about the noise the chairs make on the sidewalk and customers smoking hookah. “They tell the police they think its pot,” said Jay, “[and the police] have to check it out.”
The Faruques’ headache started just over a year ago when they bought the business. Jay said he didn’t know the problems the coffee house faced before he bought it because he only visited the site once. But he soon learned of the inherent struggles between the late-night clientele and their elderly next-door neighbors.
“It was actually worse before we owned it,” Jay said.
The Faruques said they improved the business at first, and the affection between them and the community was mutual. “The community is great. Everything was great,” said Jay. The couple even began plans for expansion.
But the problems with neighbors, as well as financial issues, started worsening approximately six months ago. Their sales more than doubled, the Faruques said, but when all was said and done, they discovered they were losing money. The lost money seemed to be a product of the late-night hours, when the Faruques were at home.
But, the couple said, “We are young and need to take care of our family and ourselves.”
The question they faced was whether the seemingly endless troubles were worth it. The answer, for the Faruque family, was no.
“Could Chloe’s have stayed open? Yes,” Jay said. “[But] you just can’t change an environment. [So] we decided to close.”
Following the Faruques’ Facebook announcement on Oct. 22 of their plans to close at the end of the week, the community expressed shock and dismay. Community members reached out, offering financial and other assistance, said Jay and Aysha. But the Faruques insist that the problems went much beyond finances.
Chloe’s last week was full of “finals” — final poetry, comedy, music open mic and karaoke nights were held. Saturday night featured an “open jam night” with an open invitation to all area musicians who had played at Chloe’s to return for one last night to jam together, and a “Grand Closing Party” wrapped things up on Oct. 28, with everything free as a way to empty the shop of stock. Donations were accepted to help fund the final night through a link to Paypal on the Chloe’s Coffee Facebook page.
When asked what is next for the Faruques, Jay quickly responded, “The first thing I’m going to do is take a vacation! People say, ‘I know you are going somewhere [to open a new coffee shop]. Where are you going?’ I say, ‘Yeah, I’m going on vacation!’”
He is also opening a used car dealership in Saint Mary’s County. But, he added, “The plan is in a year or so to have something like this, [Chloe’s Coffee house/hookah lounge,] nearby.”
For now, though, the Faruques will take a break from the hectic business of running a neighborhood hangout. And they leave with fond memories of the Kentlands community and their customers, taking the experience with them to the next stage of their lives.
“We learned so much from this,” said Jay. “It was invaluable.”