The owner of Sperry’s Restaurant and Sam’s Sports Grill is suing a spice blend manufacturer, alleging that the out-of-state company is holding the local restaurants “hostage” by refusing to disclose the recipes for spice blends Sperry’s and Sam’s have used for years.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court on Wednesday, the restaurants in approximately 2004 enlisted spice manufacturer R.L. Schreiber to blend the local businesses’ proprietary seasoning blends, including for steak, seafood, hamburgers, French fries and barbecue. The local company both used the blends for food cooked for diners and sold the products separately.
Sperry’s and Sam’s, according to the lawsuit, lost their own copies of the blend recipes in the 2010 flood. The restaurants allege that Schreiber informed them it could no longer produce the blends, so Sperry’s and Sam’s asked for copies of their recipes so that they could find a new manufacturer.
“Incredibly, Schreiber refused,” the lawsuit alleges. “According to Schreiber, at some point, Schreiber modified the Sperry’s Steak Seasoning without Sperry’s consent, purportedly adding its own alleged proprietary blend. Schreiber claims, contrary to industry custom, because Schreiber altered the Sperry’s Steak Seasoning, it is now the property of Schreiber.”
Sperry’s and Sam’s have since sought to recreate the blends, including using a list of ingredient ranges provided by Schreiber that, the restaurants said, lack the level of detail necessary to make the seasonings. The restaurants consulted multiple spice manufacturers in the process to no avail, according to the lawsuit.
Sperry’s “cannot go back to the original recipe it delivered in 2004 because its customers have become accustomed to the current recipe," the lawsuit continues. "And, because Schreiber refuses to disclose any of the seasonings, Schreiber is holding Sperry’s and Sam’s businesses hostage and depriving its customers of the Sperry’s and Sam’s food they have come to know and love.”
Sperry’s and Sam’s are represented by Michael Johnson, John Griffin Jr. and Dalton Thompson III of Kay Griffin. The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare them the owners of the seasonings and force Schreiber to disclose the recipes. Representatives for both parties could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sperry’s was established in 1974 on Harding Pike in Belle Meade, and Sam’s opened in 2000. Both have since opened additional locations.