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Cheesecake Factory Serves Suit, Says Recipes Stolen

September 23, 1999|From Reuters

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. has sued a Miami Beach cafe, accusing it of filching secret recipes for dishes ranging from Apple Banana Nut French Toast to Tex Mex Egg Rolls.

The Cheesecake Factory, headquartered in Calabasas Hills, operates 30 restaurants under the Cheesecake Factory name, including five in southeast Florida.

The company filed the lawsuit in Florida Circuit Court Sept. 16 against the Nexxt Cafe, a busy local eatery that opened in May on south Miami Beach's trendy Lincoln Road.

The lawsuit alleges the cafe owners violated Florida trade laws by persuading Cheesecake Factory cooks to photocopy proprietary recipes, and hiring them to cook the dishes at Nexxt Cafe.

"It's a fair method of competition to go into a restaurant, decide you like a certain dish and try to replicate that dish from your taste buds," Cheesecake Factory attorney Scott Cagan said Wednesday.

"It's quite another thing to steal tangible recipes from a restaurant that invests hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop them and hire that company's former cooks, who were trained by that restaurant, to execute the recipes."

The lawsuit also accuses the cafe owners of inducing former Cheesecake Factory employees to violate written agreements promising not to disclose the recipes and cooking methods.

The Cheesecake Factory is asking for an injunction barring the cafe from using the recipes, plus unspecified monetary damages. It said it spends more than $500,000 a year to develop recipes and train chefs, and suffered irreparable damages from the alleged recipe piracy.

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