World of Beer Franchising Inc. recently filed a lawsuit against SRQBeer USK LLC, the franchisees who ran the World of Beer location at 8217 Tourist Center Drive. JDubs Brewing Co. LLC also is included as a defendant.
The lawsuit complaint alleges that the franchisees, Mark Broderick and Dean Lambert, broke their franchise agreement with World of Beer by closing the location and re-branding it as The Dub Shack, a JDub’s Brewing Co. taproom. JDub’s, a Sarasota-based brewery, is owned by and named after Jeremy Joerger.
“JDub’s is included in this action as a defendant because it may have an interest in the competing business,” according to the complaint filed in the Hillsborough County Circuit Court on Jan. 27.
Exhibits attached to the complaint show that SRQBeer entered the franchise agreement in March 2012. According to the complaint:
“Under the Franchise Agreement, SRQBEER agreed that if it decided to sell, assign, or transfer for consideration an interest in the Franchise Agreement, the Tavern, or an ownership interest in SRQBEER that it would immediately submit to WOBF a true and complete copy of any such offer, to provide WOBF the opportunity to purchase the interest for that price.”
The agreement also stipulated that franchisees were not to have any “direct or indirect as disclosed or beneficial owner in any competitive business.”
S. Douglas Knox, the Tampa-based Quarles & Brady LLP attorney representing World of Beer, could not be reached for comment.
Lambert said he and the other defendants planned to submit a response to the lawsuit on Tuesday afternoon with the help of an attorney whose name he would not disclose.
“It’s a complete mistake because their main argument is first right of refusal to buy it,” Lambert said. “We never sold it. They’re claiming that JDub’s bought it from us and that’s not true. The other part is they’re complaining it’s within a 10-mile radius of another one, which it’s not.”
Lambert said he and Broderick told World of Beer that they planned to close the location, but they didn’t specify a date of closure.
“As soon as we let them know we were going to close it, they shut us off from all back-end systems anyway, so we couldn’t operate as World of Beer,” Lambert said.
The re-branded craft beer taproom opened as The Dub Shack on Jan. 27.
On Jan. 31, Knox, on behalf of World of Beer, filed an ex parte motion for a temporary injunction that would prevent Lambert, Broderick and the JDub’s brand from continuing to operate The Dub Shack.