The owner of a pottery studio that used to be on Beacon Hill yesterday sued her new and notorious Back Bay landlord, saying he broke his promise to let her install kilns to fire her patrons' hand-decorated wares.
In her suit, Rainbows Pottery Studio owner Allison Carroll says that in the lease she signed in 2022 for space at 216 Newbury St., landlord Hicham Ali Hassan agreed to let her install electric-powered kilns - and that she agreed to pay for any required upgrades to the building's electrical system. But, she charges, after she moved in, Hassan refused to let her contractors do the $48,000 worth of electrical upgrades or install the vent the kilns need.
Carroll charges that not only did Hassan block the electrical upgrade after it had passed ISD muster and the vent installation after it had won approval from both ISD and the Back Bay Architectural Commission, he took to referring to her as "a stupid little bitch," vowed to drown her in legal fees, repeatedly yelled at her employees and contractors when he showed up at the building - and made false claims about her autistic son.
It's the sort of alleged behavior that Hassan used to engage in at his former Tannery shoe stores, which got so bad the state sued him for violating the civil rights of minority and foreign-born customers. He settled the case in 2021 by agreeing to never again run a retail store in Massachusetts.
Carroll says that without kilns, she has been forced to send customer pieces out to a third-party kiln operator, which not only costs her an extra $2,500 a week but increases the chances that the objects will be cracked or completely broken during transport to and from that location - to the point where she says she has lost repeat business from people whose work has been damaged that way.
In her complaint, Carroll asks for a jury trial at which to prove her formal charges, which include breach of contract, unfair or deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of the state civil-rights law. She is seeking an injunction to get Ali to knock it off and pay her sufficient damages to both compensate her for her business losses, times three, to ensure he doesn't try it again.
The court has yet to set a date by which Ali must respond to the lawsuit.