FALL RIVER (WBSM) — The Fall River Inspectional Services Department has responded to the claim that one of its inspectors was “confused” by Miss Lizzie’s Coffee Shop opening next door to the Lizzie Borden House and "demanded" answers.

The statement is part of a legal brief filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals by attorneys for U.S. Ghost Adventures, the company that owns and operates the Lizzie Borden House, seeking to reverse an October 2023 decision by federal Judge Leo T. Sorokin that denied an injunction against Miss Lizzie’s Coffee.

The two businesses have been at odds since the coffee shop opened right next door to the infamous murder house in August 2023. U.S. Ghost Adventures and its owner Lance Zaal have claimed that customers and even Fall River officials have been “confused” by the two entities operating side by side.

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According to a Herald News story, U.S. Ghost Adventures Director of Operations Josef Kruger “testified that someone from Fall River’s Inspectional Services department contacted him on June 27, 2023” and that “Kruger said the inspector he spoke to demanded to know what business the Lizzie Borden House was attempting to open next door.”

The inspector reportedly said, “‘The Lizzie Borden House can’t open up Miss Lizzie’s without informing us of these details’” and that “the inspector had to be informed that the businesses are not related.”

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Brenda Beaudry, Project Specialist for Inspectional Services in the City of Fall River, said the comment in the Herald News “was only partially true.”

“The inspector in no way shape or form demanded that he be provided with information,” she said, and that he was just seeking out some answers.

Beaudry said that the proximity of Miss Lizzie’s Coffee to Fall River’s City Hall meant that building inspectors and other City employees drove by the building on a daily basis.

“They noticed that there was a sign outside that said, ‘Coming soon – Miss Lizzie’s Coffee,’” she said. “There was brown paper on the windows so you could not see inside.”

Beaudry said that since it is the job of inspectors to follow up with new businesses – whether it be for proper permitting, allowed use of a building, certificates of occupancy, etc. – it would be expected that the inspectors would want to contact whoever was responsible for this new business opening.

“There was not a contact phone number posted on the building for the inspector to call, so he decided that as his first step would be to call the (Lizzie Borden House) to try to get information in the event it was somehow affiliated,” she said. “He simply asked the manager on duty what was going on in the shop. The manager stated that there was absolutely no affiliation.”

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From there, the inspector contacted the City’s food and milk inspectors from the Health Department to see if they had any information – which they did.

“The owner of Miss Lizzie's Coffee had contacted the food and milk inspectors prior to this since they are responsible for licensing food establishments,” Beaudry said. “The food and milk inspectors provided the building inspector with the required information, explaining that there was no need for them to get involved since building permits were not necessary.”

Beaudry said “there were no structural changes made to the building, therefore a permit was not required.”

Miss Lizzie's Coffee via Facebook
Miss Lizzie's Coffee via Facebook

When the inspector reached out to Miss Lizzie’s Coffee owner Joe Pereira, Beaudry said Pereira “was more than cooperative” and “explained the shop in detail.” Pereira had purchased the building in March 2023 and got his business certificate from the City of Fall River on June 1 and planned on opening without making any structural changes.

“There were no big issues; it was simply just trying to find out what the establishment was and if any permits were needed at the time,” Beaudry said.

She said while the computer systems for the two different inspectional departments do not “talk to each other,” the humans working in the departments usually give one another a heads up on anything that might need their attention.

Listen to the complete interview with Joe Pereira here:

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