Little Caesar sues franchisee over substitute spice

Rooyakker doesn't say he uses copycat ingredients, but told The Detroit News for a Sunday story that the Little Caesar spices he is required to buy are overvalued. Little Caesar has revoked Rooyakker's franchise licenses and has asked the court to bar him from operating in…

Detroit Free Press
March 6, 2005

Little Caesar sues franchisee over substitute spice

DETROIT (AP) — Little Caesar Enterprises Inc. has filed a lawsuit against a franchisee the company claims disclosed confidential information about the spice blend used to make its pizza sauce in order to produce a less-expensive substitute.

Robert Rooyakker, who is based in Gaylord, owns seven Little Caesar's stores in northern Michigan. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Detroit claims he violated his franchise agreement with the company by using a knockoff spice blend in his sauce.

Little Caesar requires franchise owners to buy products such as cheese, pepperoni and sauce from its Blue Line subsidiary.

"Little Caesar has always kept the formula of the spice blend confidential," the lawsuit says. "The only Little Caesar executives and employees who have access to the formula are those with direct responsibility for the manufacture or supervision.

"Only one employee is entrusted to mix the ingredients to make the spice blend."

Rooyakker doesn't say he uses copycat ingredients, but told The Detroit News for a Sunday story that the Little Caesar spices he is required to buy are overvalued.

Little Caesar has revoked Rooyakker's franchise licenses and has asked the court to bar him from operating in Gaylord, Grayling, East Jordan, Boyne City, Rogers City, Alpena and Petoskey. Little Caesar says it wants all references to the Detroit company removed from the stores.

Rooyakker said he doesn't want to battle the company.

"I'm going to sell the franchises," he said. "I'll be doing something different when that happens."

Copyright © 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.


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