Peach v. Burrito: British Chef Sues Chipotle Founder For Trying To Make Him Rip Off David Chang
So yeah, we never really expected to cover a story that involved David Chang, Chipotle founder Steve Ells, Asian noodles, and former Heston Blumenthal employee Kyle Connaughton. But remember how last year Chang told AdWeek of an unspecified fast-food chain that “stole” a concept they had both developed and we speculated that it could be Washington D.C.’s noodle chain ShopHouse? In a new lawsuit, Connaughton alleges exactly that.
As our legal correspondents at the New York Post report, Connaughton was hired by Ells to develop a ramen house, similar to Chipotle, to open in Union Square. Connaughton was super gung-ho about the idea until he heard about Chang’s troubles with Ells, who had “failed to tell him he had already signed a nondisclosure agreement with Chang and then stole Chang’s ideas without compensating him.” Even worse, a Chipotle marketing director accidentally revealed to Connaughton that “Momofuku will sue Chipotle when the ramen concept opens but that Mr. Ells made a decision to proceed anyway.”
Rather than sully his own reputation and face the legal wrath of the Lucky Peach, Connaughton allegedly brought his concerns to Ells — and was fired immediately. Connaughton filed his suit in Manhattan’s Supreme Court for unspecified damages.
Neither Ells nor Chang could be reached for comment, as we suspect that they’re quietly hating each other from afar but don’t want to get into messy legal battles.