DALLAS (CN) – The Twin Peaks restaurant chain blames its former Waco franchisee for damaging its brand and reputation by asking police to leave before a deadly shootout between rival biker gangs.
Dallas-based Twin Restaurant Franchise sued Chalak TP Waco LLC in Dallas County Court on Wednesday.
The May 17 shooting at the Waco restaurant left nine dead and at least 18 wounded.
Chalak and Chalak Peak Restaurants LLC responded by countersuing Twin Peaks on Wednesday. They claim the franchisor breached an area development agreement when it terminated the franchise, that Chalak paid money for the right to develop six Twin Peaks restaurants in Texas and Louisiana.
Chalak’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Waco police have been highly critical of the restaurant’s local management for being uncooperative leading up to the shooting. Several armed police officers were in the restaurant’s parking lot in anticipation of trouble and returned fire when they were shot at.
The corporation, which touts itself as the “ultimate sports lodge,” sells comfort food and cold beer served by scantily clad “Girl Next Door” waitresses, according to its website. It has more than 70 outlets in 23 states.
In its lawsuit, the corporation said the shooting “could have been much worse” if not for “the brave actions” of Waco police and other law enforcement.
“Three days prior to the incident, franchisee agreed in a telephone call with franchisor to verify and enforce certain important priorities of Twin Peaks National, including implementing proper security measures to ensure the safety of the Waco restaurant’s guests and team members during the event,” the complaint states.
“Franchisor stressed that franchisee should hold the safety of the guests, the community of Waco, and the Twin Peaks brand in the highest regard. Lastly, franchisor emphasized that responsible alcohol service should be monitored by franchisee and ensure that management presence is felt by guests.”
The corporation says that Chalak assured it that the restaurant was “100 percent fully prepared” for the bikers and that a “strong plan” was in place.
But it claims the franchisee’s management “chose to ignore” the warnings and advice from the corporation and police.
“In fact, upon information and belief, franchisee management asked or directed Waco law enforcement to leave the premises immediately prior to the event,” the complaint states.
Twin Peaks says it terminated the franchise agreement one day after the shooting, when the city shut down the restaurant and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended its alcohol license.
“The termination highlights Twin Peaks National’s continuing commitment to providing a safe and friendly environment for our guests,” the complaint states. “Twin Peaks will always be grateful to the officers who risked their lives in Waco to protect the public.”
Twin Peaks says the closure for public safety reasons and conduct that “materially impairs the goodwill” of the brand is grounds for termination under its agreement.
Twin Peaks spokesman Rick Van Warner declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday evening.
“At this time, it would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation,” he said.
Twin Peaks seeks a declaration that it is entitled to terminate the franchise agreement. It is represented by James D. Shields in Addison.
A neighboring business, Don Carlos Restaurant, sued Twin Peaks and its former franchisee on May 21 in Dallas County Court over lost business, claiming they “disregarded basic common sense and ordinary prudence ” by inviting the armed rival gang members to a meeting where alcohol was served.
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