ATLANTA (AP/WPRI) — The Georgia-based parent company of Hooters restaurants says in a federal lawsuit that two of its East Coast establishments have been abandoned and one was operated in filthy conditions, turning off customers and damaging the national brand.
Hooters of America on Monday filed the lawsuit against Hoot Owl Restaurants LLC, which has operated 12 Hooters restaurants in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware and Pennsylvania, all under franchise agreements.
Hooters’ parent company says the franchise operator violated its agreement by abandoning restaurants in Warwick, Rhode Island, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
According to a sign in the window of the Warwick location, a snowstorm damaged the roof and the management was planning to make repairs immediately – but that never happened.
Neighbor Wes Seeman said the ceiling wasn’t reinforced during construction, which led to the damage.
“It was somebody’s fault that they didn’t reinforce the ceiling or the beams inside when they put the A/C in,” he said.
Hooters’ parent firm says the Warwick restaurant deteriorated to a “deplorable” condition, voluntarily closing for upgrades after a Rhode Island Department of Health inspection.
Wes and Diane Seeman are the owners of a construction supply company next door.
“I know there were a lot of rats because they had poison boxes all along our fence,” Wes said.
Officials with Hooters and Hoot Owl didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.