Rebel Cheesecake Shop franchisee Brad Skuse has taken down cheesecakeshoplie.com following claims that he had breached a prior agreement by launching the site, which is fiercely critical of the company.
Yesterday, StartupSmart revealed Skuse has set up a site called cheesecakeshoplie.com, six months after being forced to take down cheescakeshoplies.com. Both sites attack The Cheesecake Shop over a number of issues, including head office “harassment” and a compulsory $130,000 store upgrade.
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In August last year, Skuse reached an agreement with The Cheesecake Shop regarding cheesecakeshoplies.com.
As a term of settlement, Skuse agreed to deregister the site “and agrees not to register the same or any similar website in the future”.
By setting up cheesecakeshoplie.com – the content of which is almost identical to that of the original site – The Cheesecake Shop told StartupSmart Skuse has breached the agreement.
Skuse says he set up the site on behalf of other TCS franchisees who are “begging” him to help them. But now the site has disappeared, with Skuse confirming he has taken it down temporarily.
“It’s offline at the moment. I’m getting some advice from my solicitor,” he says.
Skuse says while The Cheesecake Shop is yet to contact him, news of the site generated “quite quickly” through the franchise group, and he will “absolutely” consider putting it back up.
“There will probably be legal action taken against me, for sure, and threats and intimidation. If I know I’ve got the support of the other franchisees, [I’m prepared to republish the site],” he says.
Ken Rosebery, general manager of The Cheesecake Shop, says the company is also seeking legal advice on the matter.
When asked whether the site’s temporary disappearance will affect the company’s actions against Skuse, Rosebery said “I doubt it”, although he refused to divulge that course of action.
“We reached an agreement at mediation, which was breached by him by putting up that type of… untrue commentary. It’s damaging not only to us but all our franchisees as well,” Rosebery says.
“How can we reach an agreement if [franchisees] feel they can disregard it? It won’t happen again.”
“We must consider our rights and the rights and interests of all our franchisees… We’ll act accordingly. I’m not saying what we’ll do.”