Ever since Reston Town Center first opened in 1989, Lee's Ice Cream & Deli has been serving Reston residents scoops of Rocky Road, Death by Chocolate, Banana Chocolate Chip and countless other flavors.
But 17 years later, the Reston ice cream parlor is poised to close its doors forever.
"Equity Office, which owns Reston Town Center, won't renew our lease," said Donna Tourangeau, who is co-owner of Lee's with her husband. "Six months ago, they told us they don't want us here anymore."
The ice cream shop's lease expires in April. Soon thereafter, a Ben & Jerry's franchise is scheduled to open at a different spot at Reston Town Center.
Lee's Ice Cream is based in Baltimore, with franchise locations operating throughout the Washington, D.C. region. The Reston Town Center location, however, has been owned by the Tourangeau family since 1993. The family holds a co-lease with the Baltimore firm, Tourangeau said.
"It's sad," said Jennifer Arthur, a 19-year-old James Madison University student from Reston who scoops ice cream at the shop during vacations. "It's like one of the only family-owned businesses left at Town Center."
PETER PEDRAZA, Equity Office Properties Trust's spokesman, said the Chicago-based real estate firm does not comment on the specifics of customer lease terms or negotiations.
"All I can say is that we always strive in our retail environments to have a mix of retail offerings," Pedraza said.
The Tourangeau family had hoped to sell the business this year, as they are nearly ready to retire. But, they said, Equity Office has nixed their plans.
"This was supposed to be our retirement," said Pete Tourangeau, also a co-owner of the shop. "They aren't giving us a pot to piss in. You've got to have some loyalty."
One factor that may have contributed to the ice cream shop's impending demise is that Equity Office is planning a project to redevelop and renovate that particular section of Reston Town Center.
LEE'S ICE CREAM at Reston Town Center is best-known for its Arbuckle flavor, which is vanilla ice cream with grains of chocolate swirled in. A popular lunch destination for Reston Town Center workers, it is packed most afternoons with people ordering sandwiches and most evenings with families grabbing a bite of ice cream after seeing a movie.
Last week at the ice cream shop, customer Sam Repshas, of Reston, said he was sorry to see it close.
"It's pretty sad," he said. "They've got some good ice cream."