Dr Sam Prince, the founder of restaurant chain Zambrero, is suing former CEO Stuart Cook for misleading or deceptive conduct.
A former medical student turned entrepreneur, Prince founded Zambrero in 2005 and brought Cook on board four years later. Cook left the Mexican fast-food chain in 2015 and sold his shares in the business. He has since founded an advisory firm (TWIYO) The World Is Your Oyster, and with his wife Samantha launched a fast food venture, Flave.
Zambrero alleges Cook has falsely taken credit for the Mexican-themed chain’s expansion from three stores to 100 restaurants.
Allegations of misleading or deceptive conduct
According to the Financial Review, the Federal Court filings state Stuart Cook made statements in the media, in podcasts, and in an investor webinar in November 2022 that were “false” and “misleading or deceptive”.
Zambrero alleges the claims that Cook led a profitable, global expansion of the business minimised the contributions of the founder and major stakeholder, Dr Prince, and another former CEO, Karim Messih.
Current CEO and former banker and finance lawyer Matthew Kenny took on the role in 2020.
Cook has also disclosed the circumstances and terms of his departure from the firm. Zambrero alleges this is a breach of an agreement between the two parties.
The company is seeking an injunction to have Stuart and Samantha Cook “permanently restrained” from making statements about his role at Zambrero.
Zambrero sues former CEO in Federal Court
The application was filed with the Federal Court on 21 December 2023. A case management hearing on 7 February 2024 was adjourned.
A media representative confirmed Zambrero is not providing any comment outside its court proceedings.
Stuart and Samantha Cook’s lawyer is Marlia Saunders at Thomson Geer. Saunders said “Stuart is proud of the work he did during his time at Zambrero. He and Samantha deny the allegations and intend to defend the proceedings.”
This story was originally published on Franchise Executives.