GRAND RAPIDS — The owner of Anna’s House restaurant has voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit against the Meritage Hospitality Group over its newly-opened Morning Belle restaurant.
Anna’s House Corporate LLC on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit it filed against Meritage and subsidiary OCM Development LLC. In the case, Anna’s House alleged Meritage used proprietary information about its business in creating the new Morning Belle concept. There is no settlement in this case.
As MiBiz previously reported, the case stemmed from talks between Meritage and Anna’s House in 2016 about a potential acquisition or joint venture. Anna’s House said it shared information about its business, marketing and branding strategies while conducting negotiations with Meritage about its request to acquire, franchise or be granted a license to replicate Anna’s House, according to the original filing.
After these talks stalled, Anna’s House alleged Meritage used the information to open its own chain of restaurants to compete with Anna’s House, arguing Morning Belle is “practically identical” in its features. Anna’s House was seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit.
“I think it was a stretch from the onset and we were never provided any confidential information,” said Robert Potts, general counsel for Meritage. “We didn’t try to copy them in any way, shape or form.”
Anna’s House says it stands by its claims in the initial court filing.
“Anna’s House is a proud small business and will always welcome original competition in the market. We will also protect our uniqueness, stand by the claims that were filed and reserve the right to enforce them at a later time if necessary,” Josh Beckett, CEO of Anna’s House, said in a statement to MiBiz. “For now we are focused on our continued growth and exceptional customer experience.”
Meanwhile, Meritage says it will continue with its plans to expand the Morning Belle concept, with the next restaurant expected to open at 434 Bridge St. NW. Three others will be located in West Michigan, but the company is still finalized those sites, Potts said.