Capriotti’s franchisee Natalie Delucia Taylor took it as evidence of a legitimate business deal when topless dancers at Crazy Horse III requested no onions on their sandwiches for fear of driving away customers.
But to the executives at Capriotti’s Las Vegas head office, that line covered less than a g-string. Instead of innocent orders for club employees, the executives saw Crazy Horse III happy hour promotions that illicitly included their name, accompanied by snarky write-ups by nightlife columnists.
The executives’ anger at their “family-friendly food and service” being associated with lap dances landed in U.S. District Court in Delaware Tuesday as Capriotti’s sued to immediately sever all ties with Taylor Family Holdings, owner of the sandwich shop on 4825 S. Fort Apache Road that had the ill-fated fling with Crazy Horse III.
In court papers, Capriotti’s president Patrick Walls said the franchise was terminated on Nov. 28 after Taylor, failed to respond to a default notice sent nearly two weeks earlier, when the promotion was discovered. However, he noted, Taylor continues to run the shop as a Capriotti’s.
The anger at Taylor’s conduct was not confined to a few bosses, he added.
“(W)e received multiple complaints from our other Las Vegas area franchisees who independently learned of this unauthorized promotion and association through the publicity it received on radio and over the Internet,” Walls said.
An item in the blog Daily Fiasco, for example, concluded with the line, “(F)ellas, remember: It is never acceptable to tip a stripper in Bobbie stuffing, no matter how hilarious that may be.”
The Bobbie is Capriotti’s signature sandwich, with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo in a roll.
According to her attorneys, Taylor quit selling to the club after the warning and brought her franchise into compliance with the company’s rules. As a result, she contends that she still has the right to do business as a Capriotti’s franchisee.
Moreover, Taylor attorney John Elzufon promised to get down and dirty if the company turned to litigation rather than settle the matter quietly. He pointed to “inflated food prices” charged to franchisees by company-authorized vendors and undisclosed fees paid to the head office as potential subjects he will raise in court.
But Walls said that an in-house investigation found that Taylor knew all along where the sandwiches were going and continued selling to the club even after she claimed to have stopped.
“For Ms. Taylor now to claim that she was unaware of the intended purpose of the large quantity of sandwiches ordered daily by Crazy Horse III is disingenuous at best,” wrote company attorney Robert Smith, in a Dec. 9 letter.
Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5290.