Hobart, Ind. — Raising Cane’s, a restaurant renowned for exclusively selling chicken fingers, is suing a northwestern Indiana mall after being told — eight months and more than $1 million in construction later — that it would be banned from selling chicken fingers due to a longstanding and undisclosed agreement with McDonald’s.
A lawsuit filed by Raising Cane’s in Texas federal court alleges that Crossings of Hobart and owner Schottenstein Property Group tricked the popular chicken fingers chain into signing a 15-year lease, which would equate to more than $2 million dollars in rent, when ever revealing that McDonald’s had the exclusive rights to sell chicken in the mall next to Southlake Mall in Hobart.
Raising Cane’s, as part of its Indiana push, planned to build a double drive-thru restaurant on the site of a former TGI Fridays located on US 30 across from Best Buy across from the mall.
“Despite knowing that Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers’ entire business model is based on the sale of chicken fingers, the defendants specifically failed to disclose this issue prior to the execution of the lease,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that not only did the defendants specifically tell Raising Cane’s that there were no exclusive rights that would affect their restaurant, but that the defendants even tried to sell Raising Cane the exclusive rights to sell boneless chicken at the mall” despite knowing McDonald’s had already sold that right.
“Incredibly, the defendants did not tell Raising Cane’s that it would not be able to sell its chicken fingers at the mall until nearly eight months after seeing Raising Cane’s spend nearly a year and more million dollars to develop his new restaurant,” the lawsuit said. said.
The lawsuit says the exclusive rights were granted to McDonald’s in 1994 by the previous owners. He goes on to say that not only were Crossings of Hobart aware of this exclusive deal, but they attempted to “cover up their misconduct”.
According to the lawsuit, just over a week after construction began on Raising Cane on the site of a former TGI Fridays, Crossings of Hobart sent a letter to McDonald’s requesting a waiver of their exclusive rights so that the mall gets a lease. with Chipotle.
McDonald’s reportedly refused the request.
The lawsuit says that in McDonald’s letter, the Golden Bows fast food chain also reminded the owners that the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers project would violate the terms of the chicken’s exclusive rights and ordered the owner to “immediately cease such proposal to sell chicken.
“Despite McDonald’s strong stance, the defendants said nothing to Raising Cane’s,” the lawsuit said. “Instead, defendants stood aside as Raising Cane continued to incur over $1 million in development costs.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that the Crossings of Hobart once again tried to get McDonald’s to give up exclusive rights to the chicken a few days later, but McDonald’s again strongly urged the owners to halt construction of Raising Cane. .
According to the lawsuit, the defendants only unveiled the exclusive rights on March 22, 2022, six weeks after handing over ownership to Raising Cane’s and “silently watching Raising Cane’s expend significant capital to demolish a building to make room for a restaurant the defendants knew they would be bound by the exclusive use clause.”
Raising Cane’s said if the company had known about this exclusive agreement, it would never have signed the lease in the first place.
The lawsuit charges the defendants with multiple counts of fraud and seeks millions of dollars in development costs and lost profits, as well as cancellation of the lease.
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