With this week’s news that a group of investors sued Lucky’s Hot Chicken—and then dropped the lawsuit almost immediately—the number of legal issues surrounding Dallas’ Vandelay Hospitality Group is now getting hard to count.
Since there have been so many different proceedings, and since news outlets too often report on the beginnings without covering the resolutions, we checked on the status of all the recent legal stories surrounding Vandelay, which operates Lucky’s, Drake’s Hollywood, Hudson House, East Hampton Sandwich Co., DL Mack’s, Brentwood, Anchor Sushi Bar, and the new steakhouse Jack & Harry’s.
Employment discrimination lawsuits
Lawsuit details: Three former employees of Drake’s sued separately, alleging wrongful terminations and discriminatory hiring practices. Specific allegations included stories about managers ordering the firing of “the ugly girl,” canceling the reservations of potential customers with Arabic and Black-sounding names, and requesting that non-White employees work only in the kitchen, where customers would not see them.
Lawsuit status: The first two employees to sue, former manager Glenn Govias and former chef Oswaldo Samano, settled their cases this summer on August 17 and August 21, according to court documents. The third employee, Tyler Francisco, still has an active suit with a scheduled trial date in April 2024.
Lucky’s Hot Chicken expansion
Lawsuit details: A consortium of 14 investors helped raise almost $2 million for four new locations of Lucky’s Hot Chicken. Of those four, only one ever opened, and it closed after four months. The investors sued because, they said, they were never given any accounting of the money, where it went, or how it was spent. They were also concerned that one of the four locations was in a building owned by a Lucky’s executive, who was in essence acting as his own landlord, according to the lawsuit.
Lawsuit status: This lawsuit was filed on August 24—and settled a week later on August 31, according to court documents. Both sides told Eater Dallas that they came to an amicable (but undisclosed) resolution. Unusually, the lawsuit will be dismissed without prejudice, which means that the plaintiffs could bring suit on the same claims again in the future.
Update (9/7): The original lawsuit incorrectly claimed that only one of the four expansion Lucky’s opened. Two did. A second new location opened and closed on Forest Lane. Yelp reviews suggest this second location lasted six months before closing in January 2023.
Hudson House v. Hudson House
Lawsuit details: Vandelay opened a location of Dallas’ popular spot Hudson House in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, another restaurant called Hudson House was already operating just a few miles down the road in Redondo Beach. The California original, which opened in 2008, sued over rights to the name, stating that customers were confused by the duplicate name.
Lawsuit status: A federal judge ordered the two Hudson Houses to try working their issues out with a private mediator by December.
Hunter Pond’s Colorado adventure
Lawsuit details: Vandelay Hospitality owner Hunter Pond visited a Colorado ski resort for a wedding last October. According to court documents, Pond and his family walked back to their hotel after the reception in the middle of the road, and were frightened by a car swerving to narrowly avoid hitting them. (They hadn’t noticed the nearby footpath.) Pond found the car and spat in the face of the driver, telling her to “just go fucking die.” She filed a police report for the spitting—and he filed a lawsuit over her driving, alleging it caused emotional damage.
Lawsuit status: Pond’s lawsuit against the woman was immediately dismissed when he failed to serve her with papers. Colorado authorities told D that he would only be charged with harassment and disorderly conduct if he returned to the state.
Update (9/7): Pond’s attorney has confirmed to D that the charges in Colorado were dropped.