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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's the Beef? They're Throwing It At You! Wendy's Sues Restaurateur It Says Won't Relinquish Franchise Name -- And Beat Up Company Man Who Tried to Stop Him.

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge Oy, Clara, you shouldn't know from the answers to such questions
  • Oy, Clara, you shouldn't know from the answers to such questions
Long ago, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait pondered why Col. Oliver North showed up for his televised Congressional grilling in uniform -- even after being dismissed from the military. "I've been fired from many a job," noted Goldthwait. "But you don't see me tooling around in an Arby's uniform."

Along similar lines, the Wendy's people would love if Jacob Zachariah would stop wearing their uniform. The fast food giant claims it asked Zachariah multiple times to clean up his restaurant's lax sanitation standards -- and when Wendy's sent an envoy to enforce its company policy, it claims an enraged Zachariah showered the man with expletives, threw a computer at him, and beat him up. This kind of behavior gets your franchise license revoked -- but Wendy's claims Zachariah just won't stop calling his restaurant "Wendy's." The result: The company filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco District Court last week. And, at 111 pages, it weighs considerably more than a quarter-pounder. 

The question to the Wendy's-centric question, "Where's the Beef?" is a key factor in this case: According to the company, it was not being properly stored and refrigerated in Zachariah's Ukiah eatery. A 2008 internal health evaluation gave his restaurant a 35 rating out of 100 -- and a big fat zero in the category "food safety."

The company claims the restaurateur failed to heed numerous notices to fix these problems, leading up to an "auditor" from Wendy's visiting the Ukiah eatery on May 12 of this year. The company man did not get it his way, right away:

In response to the auditor's concerns, Defendant verbally and physically assaulted the auditor by uncontrollably shouting obscenities in his face, by grabbing the auditor shirt collar [sic] and neck and shoving him against a wall, throwing various objects at him, including a laptop tablet which struck the auditor in the back of the head, and damaging the auditor's equipment. Not only did Defendant's abhorrent conduct result in damage to Company equipment, but the auditor had to receive treatment at Ukiah Medical Center for "head and neck trauma." Law enforcement was advised of Defendant's conduct, a report was filed and officers returned to the Ukiah Restaurant to retrieve the auditor's belongings, which the auditor was unable to take with him as a result of the Defendant's violent behavior.
Not surprisingly, Wendy's "notice of termination" of Zachariah's franchise was drawn up the next day. The company claims, however, that the "Defendant intends to continue in his unauthorized operation of the Ukiah restaurant and use of the Wendy's trademarks." Wendy's is suing for trademark infringement and breach of contract.

Finally, it warrants mentioning that, among the 111 pages of the complaint, portions of three are taken up with listing Wendy's registered trademarks, including Baconator, En Wendy's Comer Es Mas Rico, Quality Is Our Recipe, Sizzlin' Saute Chicken, and, of course, Where's The Beef?  

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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