If Gladys Knight has her way, the chicken and waffles restaurants that once carried her name won’t be using it much longer. The legendary singer has filed to distance herself from the chain of restaurants that her son, Shanga, allegedly ran into the ground.
Soul music legend Gladys Knight is asking a judge to remove her name and likeness from her son’s troubled chicken and waffle restaurants, saying their flagging fortunes are hurting her reputation.
The suit, filed recently in Atlanta federal court, also asks that Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles stop using the Empress of Soul’s recipes and memorabilia.
“The Restaurants are in freefall and their decline necessarily has the collateral effect of damaging Knight’s Intellectual Property and Knight’s reputation,” the suit states.
Knight’s son Shanga Hankerson was arrested in June after a Georgia Department of Revenue investigation found that he pocketed taxes that the restaurant collected from customers, according to his arrest warrant. Knight, an Atlanta native, is not suspected of wrongdoing.
Witnesses told investigators that the money was being used for sex parties and marijuana, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found. Employees went unpaid and said they worked under unhealthy conditions. Restaurant leadership cut corners that led to bad health inspection scores and service.
One of the restaurant’s three locations closed its doors permanently earlier this month. The remaining locations, including the popular downtown Atlanta storefront, are operating under receivership.
Knight had considered ending the agreement that let Hankerson use her name as early as 2009 for “what she perceived as mismanagement of the Restaurants,” but only decided to move forward this year, according to the complaint, which was filed Friday. The move was formalized July 21, but the business, through its receiver, has continued to use her name, likeness and memorabilia, it states.
Although one of the restaurants has since closed, Knight says that the two that remain open are not up to par and she wants to limit the damage to her name and reputation.