Restaurants

Across the firm, Akin Gump lawyers have a long track record of counseling restaurants and their investors.  Our clients have included some of the industry’s most prominent quick-serve restaurants, regional chains and emerging businesses around the world.  We advise on transactions, financing and ongoing business, debt restructuring, trade compliance, labor and employment issues and litigation. 

Of particular note is the depth of our experience guiding restaurants on policy and regulatory matters.  There are few things more crippling for a restaurant or food service company than allegations—or evidence—of unsafe food products.  And in media, public and regulatory environments sensitized to food safety issues, food businesses continue to face new, difficult challenges, including consumer allergies, approval for new food ingredients and food contact substances, product chain accountability, divergent national safety standards and new legal and regulatory perspectives on existing ingredients. Akin Gump lawyers, serving as counselors, advocates and advisors in state, federal and international fora, have helped clients facing all of these issues.

Our experience includes acting as counsel to:

Transactional

  • Wendy’s International, Inc. in its $2.34 billion merger with Triarc Companies
  • Wendy’s International, Inc. in its sale of Baja Fresh
  • Wendy’s International, Inc. in connection with the NASDAQ initial public offering of Tim Horton’s Inc.
  • Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), the first private equity group to raise more than $1.8 billion for investment in companies across the African continent, in its majority-stake investment in Java House Nairobi, Kenya's leading café and casual dining restaurant operator
  • an informal group of secured noteholders in connection with the chapter 11 proceedings of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands
  • a global investment fund in the merger of a global chain of specialty quick-serve restaurants with a blank check company
  • a private equity fund in the acquisition of a chain of regional restaurants
  • a group of franchisees in the sale of 15 franchised restaurants to the franchisor
  • a restaurant management group in the sale of a chain of regional restaurants
  • The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Friendly’s Ice Cream Corp.
  • The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Chi-Chi’s, Inc.
  • an informal group of second lien lenders of Uno Restaurant Holdings, Inc.
  • an informal group of secured lenders of Quizno’s Corp.
  • a secured creditor of Perkins and Marie Callender’s Inc.

Litigation

  • Brinker International, one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies, in Brinker Restaurant Corp. et al v. The Superior Court for the State of California for the County of San Diego.  Akin Gump achieved a favorable decision for our client in this landmark wage and hour litigation argued before the California Supreme Court.  We also represented Brinker in Matoff v. Brinker Restaurant Corp., a major California wage-hour class action, in which we established as a matter of first impression that there is no private right of action for the alleged violation of California's tip pooling statute.
  • McDonald’s Corp. in several wage and hour employment litigations, including:
    • Miller v. McDonald’s Corp., a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action challenging alleged off-the-clock practices. The case was voluntarily dismissed.
    • Reyes v. McDonald’s Corp., a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action alleging underpayment for hours worked for employees who worked at multiple stores in the same workweek. The case settled before motion for conditional certification was filed.
    • Silva v. McDonald’s Corp., a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action challenging alleged off-the-clock practices. The case settled on individual basis before motion for conditional certification was filed.
    • Starling v. McDonald’s Corp., a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action challenging alleged off-the-clock practices. The case settled on individual basis before motion for conditional certification was filed.
  • one of the world’s largest quick-service restaurant chains in several complex commercial litigations, including:
    • a multimillion-dollar dispute over ownership and profits of one of the chain's largest franchises. This matter involved state and federal litigation as well as corporate law work to break up a joint venture the client had entered with the franchisee.  The case resulted in the franchisor gaining full ownership of one of its most profitable locations and the referral for prosecution of the franchisee.
    • consumer class actions in New York and California alleging that the company falsely states the amount of trans fat in its certain of its products
    • a group of putative class actions brought in Texas state court in Dallas and Houston over a troubled immigration program.  After we removed and consolidated the actions, plaintiffs conceded that we would defeat their efforts at class certification resulting in the dismissal of the class claims.
  • a major hamburger restaurant franchisor in connection with a dispute involving a joint venture with a franchisee to operate one of its most profitable locations.  The case involved claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty by the franchisee.  The case was tried to a jury and, in the middle of trial, the franchisee decided to settle the matter. 
  • the largest partner of the general partnership of a California-based chain of high-end hamburger restaurants in numerous matters, particularly disputes with limited partners.

Regulatory

  • several major multinational corporations in civil and criminal investigations relating to foodborne illness outbreaks
  • for a number of clients, assistance with Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission food marketing and menu labeling compliance.