Eddie Rocket's franchise dispute settled saving 140 jobs
MORE than 140 jobs have been saved after the settlement of a dispute between 1950s-style US diner franchise Eddie Rocket's and its largest franchisee.
Limerick businessman Brian Dunne agreed to pay Niall Fortune's Eddie Rocket's (Ireland) Ltd €250,000 as settlement for money owed to the firm, which allows the firm to keep the workers on.
Mr Dunne was Eddie Rocket's largest franchisee here and has operated Eddie Rocket's outlets in Limerick, Galway, Clare, Waterford and Tipperary since 1998 and Mr Fortune's firm moved to wind-up Mr Dunne's companies over the monies owed.
Following the row, Mr Dunne will no longer operate under the Eddie Rocket's brand and is currently rebranding the restaurants Rockin' Joe's.
Central to the deal with Mr Dunne and Mr Fortune is the removal of all Eddie Rocket's paraphernalia from the 11 outlets.
As part of the High Court settlement, Mr Dunne has agreed that Rockin' Joe's will sell the outlets' table jukeboxes to Eddie Rocket's for €300 each; all seating to be changed from red to blue; the logo 'Ain't no Finer Diner' will be removed from all clocks and doors and all Stop signs will be removed.
The settlement has ordered that Rockin' Joe's must have a sign saying "this restaurant is not associated with Eddie Rocket's" in place at all outlets until all their seat colouring is changed from red to blue.
The agreement also prohibits Rockin' Joe's from using new table jukeboxes on its premises and orders that their menus be in blue, removing the image of Electra.
The two sides agreed to the settlement after Mr Fortune told the High Court in an affidavit that he has spent €14m developing the Eddie Rocket's brand in Ireland while Mr Dunne said he has spent €6m building his own Eddie Rocket's business.
Mr Dunne said that relations soured between the two sides after Eddie Rocket's set up an outlet in Killarney which Mr Dunne claims breached the area development agreement reached between the two parties.
"We are delighted with the settlement, principally because we are still open," Mr Dunne said. However, he added: "I am worried about our customers and what they will think about the change."
Mr Dunne said his business got into serious arrears with Eddie Rocket's after its most successful restaurant, in Waterford, was gutted by fire in April.
Mr Dunne confirmed plans to close its Ennis outlet but no job losses will result arising from redeployment.
He said: "We are building up a new brand. It is difficult, but I am confident that the new business will prosper and thrive."
Last year, Eddie Rocket's (Ireland) Ltd recorded pre-tax profits of €818,315.
Mr Fortune did not return a call for comment yesterday.