Lawsuit settled between Shuckin' Shack and Johnson City franchise co-owner

Zach Vance • Sep 13, 2017 at 11:25 PM

What’s the value in a restaurant’s recipes, decor and menu? 

Apparently enough to file a federal lawsuit. 

Shuckin’ Shack LLC representatives announced Tuesday in a press release that an undisclosed settlement was reached in a dispute with the Johnson City franchise’s co-owner. 

A federal lawsuit filed by Shuckin’ Shack in June accused Mike Wiemers, co-owner of the Johnson City Shuckin’ Shack on Lyle Street, of using insider knowledge to open a similar restaurant in Fletcher, North Carolina, called Shuck N Brew. 

“Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar is pleased to announce that they have reached a settlement with Surf N Brew Oyster Bar. Further details of the settlement are confidential,” the press release stated. 

Shuckin’ Shack CEO Jonathan Weathington added, “Our mission remains the same — we want to bring fresh, delicious seafood to East Tennessee, and that has not changed. We are pleased to resolve the claims and move forward in a positive relationship with the owners of the Johnson City Shuckin’ Shack.” 

The lawsuit was initially filed in New Hanover Superior Court and claimed Wiemers used a similar trademark, menu, decor and business model as Shuckin’ Shack to open Shuck N Brew.

The suit was eventually moved to U.S. District Court Eastern District of of North Carolina, and in early July, a North Carolina judge ordered Wiemers to change his North Carolina restaurant’s name.

Wiemers followed that order and eventually changed the name to Surf N Brew. 

During the dispute, a judge also issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Weimers’ Fletcher restaurant from using “any trademarks, trade dress or trade secrets,” of Shuckin’ Shack. 

The lawsuit stated Wiemers and business partner Kenneth Moore became Shuckin’ Shack franchise owners in 2016. 

The two men planned to open other Shuckin’ Shack franchises in a targeted area, which covered Fletcher, but after a breakdown of discussions between the men and Shuckin’ Shack, the additional locations were never opened. 

Instead, Wiemers and Moore chose to open the independent restaurant in Fletcher. 

Wiemers did not return a request for comment on Wednesday. A restaurant employee said it might be a few days before he could reach out due to Hurricane Irma causing power outages and road closures in the area.

Speaking to the Johnson City Press in July, Wiemers acknowledged he still owned part of the Johnson City franchise, although he said, “technically there’s no franchise in Johnson City.” 

He also disputed claims that his recipes were copied from Shuckin’ Shack, adding that he intended to fully defend himself from the allegations. 

Tuesday’s announcement praised Shuckin’ Shack of Johnson City for its community contributions, including raising funds for kids in need and supporting local schools. 

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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