JACKSONVILLE Fla. Khalil Elbanna, a longtime Shoney’s franchisee in Florida and Georgia, is suing Nashville, Tenn.-based Captain D’s Seafood for alleged racial discrimination.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court here Friday, alleges that the quick-service chain, owned by Sagittarius Brands of Nashville, refused to approve Elbanna as a franchisee because of his Middle Eastern ethnicity.
ACaptain D’s spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the lawsuit.
Elbanna alleges that he was told by the chain in 2005 that he had sufficient financial liquidity and met other requirements before he purchased two properties that were approved by the chain’s franchise development vice president at the time, J. Michael Pearce. The properties later were deemed unsuitable, and Elbanna then was told he lacked financial requirements to buy two existing Captain D’s, he claims, asserting that the franchisor explained only, “We don’t want you to be a franchisee.”
Elbanna said he has been a Shoney’s franchisee for eight years and was an IHOP franchisee for 12 years before that.
Of the lawsuit against Captain D’s, he said, “I am suing to make a point to them, and to get back what they have cost me.” Elbanna is seeking undetermined damages.