Masaharu Morimoto is having some problems. His business partner (the non-Stephen Starr one), Donald Fellner, has won a court judgement entitling him to 45 percent of the profits from Morimoto’s Philly, New York and Mumbai locations and from celebrity endorsements. According to the court judgement, Fellner befriended Morimoto in 2000 and formed a company with Morimoto and Fellner having 55/45 stakes. The company then entered into an agreement with Stephen Starr that it appears Morimoto broke in 2004 by adding an amendment which excluded Fellner from Morimoto’s New York branch and from all other future Starr ventures.
Here’s the word, courtesy of New York mag Grub Street:
During the case, brought almost three years ago by Fellner and his lawyer, Steven Landy, Morimoto maintained that an amendment to his original agreement with Fellner gave him the right to personally keep all profits arising from “private work.” But the court disagreed and ruled that Fellner is entitled to a share in the profits from Rogue Brewery and Nenohi knives, Food Network merchandising, and the aforementioned restaurants. Morimoto maintained he had the right to reserve all profits from his Starr restaurants because he was originally approached via a headhunter (something the judge ruled was irrelevant) and because Fellner misappropriated funds, failed to pay chef salaries, and didn’t bring in financing, issues that will be addressed at trial. The trial will also determine whether Fellner is entitled to 45 percent of Morimoto’s endorsement profits from Fukumitsuya Sake and Mishima Foods. The Iron Chef might just want to up that $10,000 appearance fee, assuming he hasn’t already.
Court Rules Morimoto Shafted Business Partner [Grub Street]