MANHATTAN (CN) – Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay countersued a former business partner who last month accused Ramsay of being a dictator.
The “Hell’s Kitchen” chef claims Rowen Seibel “tried to ride Mr. Ramsay’s star, but through his own fraud, misconduct, and derelictions, brought the Fat Cow restaurant crashing down, while falsely blaming Mr. Ramsay and otherwise interfering with his rights.”
GR US Licensing LP, for itself and derivatively on behalf of The Fat Cow, sued Rowen Seibel and nominal defendant The Fat Cow LLC, in New York County Supreme Court.
Ramsay claims in the lawsuit that Seibel concocted a “fraudulent scheme to freeload upon the renown and acumen of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.”
He claims that Seibel told him he needed Seibel to provide contracts for restaurants in Las Vegas in 2011. Then, after learning of Ramsay’s plans to open The Fat Cow restaurant in Los Angeles, Seibel “begged to be included, this time promising Mr. Ramsey that Seibel would be an invaluable partner because of his significant restaurant experience,” according to the lawsuit.
“Having inveigled Mr. Ramsay to include him in The Fat Cow, Seibel took control of the restaurant and proved egregiously inept in its management,” the lawsuit states, resulting in “food, service and business operations far below Mr. Ramsay’s exacting standards.”
Ramsay claims Seibel “mis-paid” certain workers, which cost the restaurant thousands in penalties and back wages, and that Seibel hid the proceedings from Ramsay after a class action was filed seeking unpaid wages.
Ramsay claims his efforts to save the restaurant were thwarted, because Seibel “refused to cooperate in any reasonable steps to solve the problems he had created.”
Ramsay claims Seibel withheld his share of money to pay attorneys to defend the company against the class action.
The restaurant faced legal hurdles right from the start, in the form of a trademark issues with a Florida restaurant using the Spanish version of a related name. Ramsay says he was forced to hammer that issue out, but that a temporary right to continue using the name ended earlier this year.
Ramsay says he then pushed to shut the money-losing restaurant, but Seibel insisted on continuing, “while at the same time refusing to provide funds needed to do so or to provide solutions to the trademark problems.”
“Seibel did and contributed nothing,” Ramsay claims.
Once the restaurant closed, Ramsay suggested to the landlord that he would start a new one under his sole control.
“Seibel did not thank Mr. Ramsay for the effort,” the lawsuit states. “Instead, Seibel filed a related lawsuit in this court, making the false and nonsensical claim that Mr. Ramsey, a successful television star and renowned restaurateur with a reputation for perfection, fraudulently induced Seibel to participate in The Fat Cow restaurant project with the intent to secretly cause to fail by producing a poor quality product and miring it in legal troubles so that he could then close the restaurant, make off with Seibel’s money, and reopen a new restaurant in the same location. The claim is nonsense.”
Seigel drew first blood with his $10 million lawsuit in April. In it, he claimed Ramsay purposefully drove the restaurant into the ground, stole his investment and tried to use it to open another restaurant without him.
Ramsay now seeks to dissolve the parties’ joint ventures.
He is represented Paul Montclare with Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp.
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