Monday, December 23, 2013
Former Snuffer’s on Greenville Avenue will become a Snuffer’s — again
Pat Snuffer's idea to open Pat’s Burger & Cheddar Fries was squashed after a lawsuit.
GREENVILLE AVENUE Pat Snuffer and the new owner of the Snuffer’s Restaurant & Bar name were due in court Monday morning to wrestle over the fate of the Lower Greenville Avenue spot where in 1978 Pat debuted the original Snuffer’s. But that court date has been canceled: According to Snuffer’s attorney, the parties settled over the weekend.
As a result, says Larry Friedman, Pat Snuffer is abandoning his plans to open Pat’s Burger & Cheddar Fries next to the Granada Theater. Instead, the location will once again be called Snuffer’s.
“Pat Snuffer will live to thrive another day,” says Friedman. “He will open a new restaurant concept he will launch this fall.”
The suit was filed December 9 by Firebird Restaurant Group, which actually owns the name “Snuffer’s Restaurants” following a Chapter 11 filing in March. The parent company of El Fenix assumed its debt (around $3 million) in July, and in late November a bankruptcy court turned over the keys to the six area Snuffer’s locations. The original Greenville location, which Snuffer bulldozed in the spring to make room for an extreme makeover, was not part of the Chapter 11 filing.
Snuffer had initially hoped to reopen the location as a Snuffer’s. But following the Firebird purchase, he nixed those plans and went instead with Pat’s Burger & Cheddar Fries. Firebird then filed suit, claiming that Pat Snuffer’s “efforts to launch a ‘Burgers and Cheddar Fries’ restaurant on the sacred ground of the original Snuffer’s location on Greenville Avenue is not merely a misappropriation of the Snuffer’s concept, which in itself would be unlawful,” but a plan to “open a Snuffer’s restaurant at Snuffer’s original location under a different name.”
Snuffer said he believed he would “prevail” in the legal dust-up with the company that owns his namesake eateries. Meanwhile, Firebird CEO and owner Mike Karns said his company remained “hopeful that an expedited amicable resolution [would] be reached.”
A judge granted Firebird’s request for a temporary restraining order that prohibited Snuffer from opening his doors till a hearing, which had been scheduled for today. But Friedman, who was hired just one week ago, says that late-night “marathon settlement meetings” with Firebird resulted in the agreement reached Sunday.
“These guys are friends, not foes,” says Friedman. “They had a professional disagreement. They both have their own niche. Pat has a smaller innkeeper’s temperament, while Mike Karns is likely to be the next Norman Brinker. Their goals are different. That’s good for the industry and good for the consumer. They can go their separate ways, and the consumer will benefit.”
Karns says the Lower Greenville Snuffer’s will reopen in February, after construction’s finished and the Pat’s signs are removed and replaced.
“It was originally developed as a Snuffer’s from the ground up, and I felt it was important to protect the Snuffer’s brand and the original site,” says Karns. “I am thankful we have found a quick solution and can open a Snuffer’s there faster, rather than a longer, drawn-out process. And we wish Pat the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Terms of the settlement are confidential, says Friedman, who will say only that “both sides are extremely happy with the results, Pat already has plans to launch his new concept. It’ll be huge.”
It’s not clear what that new concept will be. But we know what it won’t involve: burgers and cheese fries.
“I hope not,” says Karns. “Otherwise I’ll be talking to you again. We’re just thankful we get to open a Snuffer’s there and get to do it quickly. It’s good for the brands and for the customer. Snuffer’s belongs there.”
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