In the two years since Jacqueline Rozanski opened the CookieConnection at the Farragut North subway stop, her chocolate chip cookies have been acclaimed by gourmets and gobbled up by such notables as Henry Kissinger, Sissy Spacek and Tip O'Neill.
In fact, so successful is hercookie business that last summer Rozanski decided to expand a bit by selling cookies with Swensen's ice cream from streetside pushcarts.
But, says Rozanski, the next thing she knew, she was being sued in D.C. Superior Court for $800,000 -- half a million of which is punitive damages -- by her landlord, Miller-Connecticut Ave-nue Associates.
The reason: MCAA, which as owner of the mall collects a percentage of Cookie Connection sales, claims she was violating her lease by causing "damage to the image which MCAA has expended time and considerable funds to create."
It is a situation that has spawned not only bitterness on the part of Rozanski, but its share of one-liners as well.
"The landlord is not a tough cookie," said Thomas C. Green, an attorney who represents MCAA.
"We don't intend to let the landlord crumble our client or her cookies," responded Rozanski's attorney, Jack C. Sando.
According to the lawsuit,Rozanski's lease says that she cannot run a similar or competing business within a five-block radius of the Connecticut Connection. MCAA maintains that Rozanski refused to stop the practice after she was asked to stop. Rozanski maintains that she stopped promptly.
"The policy is to maximize the benefits of that location for all of the tenants," explained Green. It does so, he said, by getting "customers to come into the building where they will be motivated to shop, not only at one, but perhaps several stores."
Said Sando: "I think the problem they MCAA were having regarding these pushcarts is that they somehow reflected adversely on the image the mall was trying to present . . . . It doesn't make sense to me."
The Connecticut Connection is one of Washington's busiest malls, with 13,000 riders using the subway stop daily, according to Metro officials. Additional traffic is generated by the nearby Mayflower Hotel, an adjoining office building and the thousands of workers and shoppers in the surrounding area.
The Cookie Connection, which opened two years ago, sells about 1,200 cookies daily to some 600 customers. The price is $4.48 a pound.
"I went through maybe 2,000recipes to come up with the Cookie Connection recipe," Rozanski said. "In February, Family Circle magazine said these are the best chocolate chip cookies in the world."
Until the suit, filed in July, is settled, however, Rozanski's cookies will only be sold in the mall. Meanwhile, the pushcarts sit idle in a nearby row of parking spaces, Sando said. CAPTION: Picture, Baker Jacqueline Rozanski is being sued for $800,000 by her landlord at the Farragut North subway shopping mall. By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post