JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars owner Shad Khan is suing to try to find out who has control over an iconic bakery in Murray Hill.
Edgewood Bakery has been around for over 65 years. A Jacksonville couple says they own it, with the help of Stache Investments, Khan's investment company.
In a statement, a spokesman for Khan and his investment company said the future of the bakery "appears to be in serious jeopardy." But the company running the bakery says it's business as usual and that they are in charge, not Khan.
"Helping an entrepreneur is not buying them and telling them they can work for you," said Carol Rykalsky, of Edgewood Bakery.
Carol Rykalsky and Tom Rykalsky said it was a sweet deal when they learned Stache Investments was willing to help fund the purchase of the bakery and give the couple a chance to start a dream. It began at One Spark with an idea for healthy bakery goods, and it led to the investment by Khan.
"When we purchased with the understanding that it was an investment, it was fully intended that we would be here for 20 years," Carol Rykalsky said. "We would never agree to anything that we were employees of his and that he was the sole owner of the bakery."
That changed in September when the Rykalskys got notices that Stache Investments was not happy with what was going on.
Jim Woodcock, spokesman for Khan and Stache Investments, issued this statement Friday:
"Mr. Khan and Stache Investments have one clear and unqualified intention - to continue to support deserving Jacksonville-based businesses and entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Mr. Khan enthusiastically stepped forward to preserve the historic Edgewood Bakery in Murray Hill and, specifically, help achieve the business vision of Jacksonville businessman Tom Rykalsky to produce and distribute healthy baked goods for school children.
"Recently, Mr. Rykalsky took exclusive control of the bakery's operations, with the result today that Edgewood Bakery's future appears to be in serious jeopardy. Mr. Rykalsky and his associates claim that they are the majority owners of the bakery and over the past several weeks have rejected Stache's claim that it is the rightful majority owner, despite clear evidence supporting Stache's position. To resolve this dispute, Stache is now asking a court to determine who is the majority owner and, during the time needed to reach resolution, to put the bakery in the control of a neutral receiver to protect the Edgewood Bakery, its employees and vendors.
"Mr. Khan regrets needing to take this step and will trust the legal system to take it from here and arrive at an appropriate resolution. In the meantime, this matter does not change Mr. Khan's goal - doing his part to support local entrepreneurs and ensure that the Edgewood Bakery survives and thrives as a Jacksonville neighborhood icon for many years to come."
Since September, the Rykalskys said, Khan's representatives have told employees they were fired.
"It just seems so wrong to publicly say we are going to help all of these people," Carol Rykalsky said. "Maybe Mr. Khan did not understand, because he put someone else in charge and and he did not understand what he was investing in. And maybe he did really have good intentions to do this. Maybe he decided he didn't understand the bakery and didn't want to do it. Maybe he just does not personally like us. But give us a chance to get out of it. Give us a chance to give you the money and be done with it, and let us continue to have Edgewood Bakery as a family-run business."
The bakery is still operating and the Rykalskys said they will continue to assure customers, particularly brides who have ordered wedding cakes, and people who rely on them every day that their orders will be fulfilled.
"We are going to go on with operations," Tom Rykalsky said. "We are going to run the bakery. We are going to take care of our customers."
Customers at the bakery Friday said they're glad to hear that.
"I think big business is too big, and we like to see things local and we like to see things family owned when possible," customer Valerie Brophy said. "And this is defiantly a good family-owned business."