MANHATTAN (CN) - Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay purposefully drove his popular Los Angeles eatery out of business and used a business partner's investment to open another restaurant without him, the investor claims in a $10 million lawsuit.
Rowen Seibel claims Ramsay knew at the start that the name The Fat Cow was already owned by a Florida restaurant, but instead of changing the name, he took Seibel's $800,000 investment, created a new company and secretly swung a deal to create a new restaurant in the same leased space as The Fat Cow.
"Gordon Ramsay attempted to run the business and make decisions on behalf of the entities similar to his television on Hell's Kitchen - as a dictatorship," Seibel claims in New York County Supreme Court.
Seibel says he was induced to invest the money in the Fat Cow to build out the space, add a new kitchen, fixtures and furnishings, and to train restaurant staff.
Ramsay assured Seibel that he is the "trademark queen," and that he would negotiate with the Florida restaurant - named Las Vacas Gordas
, or "The Fat Cows" in Spanish - but instead staged a "dramatic money grab" to secretly shut down the Fat Cow and open his own restaurant without Seibel, according to the 34-page lawsuit.
The new restaurant will be featured in Ramsay's Fox television show this season, Seibel says.
Seibel and Ramsey have run several successful restaurants together since 2011, including Gordon Ramsay Steak, BurGR by Gordon Ramsay and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, all in Las Vegas.
A spokesperson for Ramsay blamed Seibel for The Fat Cow's failure.
"We're surprised that Mr. Seibel has the audacity to file this ridiculous suit when he and his team were responsible for the day to day running of The Fat Cow and spectacularly mismanaged it resulting in a string of financial and legal issues," the spokesperson said. "Gordon Ramsay and his team immediately stepped in and tried to resolve these issues, but Seibel refused to engage in any meaningful conversations, rendering the restaurant unsustainable. Throughout, Ramsay was very forthcoming with Seibel that any future plan for another restaurant partnership in Los Angeles was impossible due to Seibel's refusal to operate and fund the restaurant properly, sadly including Seibel diverting funds from the business."
The lawsuit was filed by Paul B. Sweeney with Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, of East Meadow, N.Y.