ALACHUA – A legal food fight is heating up between two area restaurants.

Newberry Backyard BBQ has filed a lawsuit against Bev’s Burgers in High Springs, alleging a consultant for both restaurants gave Bev’s private business information.

The complaint was electronically filed on Oct. 15 by Angela Salisbury and her Newberry Backyard BBQ against Bev’s Burgers, owner Beverly Miller and consultant Rocco T. Voglio.

Voglio was the original owner of Newberry Backyard BBQ, incorporating the restaurant in 1998. In 2007, he sold the business to Tri-County Restaurants, Inc.

In 2012, Tri-County sold Newberry Backyard BBQ to Salisbury.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Backyard BBQ, Salisbury entered into an agreement with Voglio in 2013, with Voglio agreeing he would not enter into, be a partner of, be employed by or consult in any barbecue restaurants or restaurants serving barbecue within a 35-mile radius of Newberry. He also agreed to be a consultant for the Backyard BBQ, in order to promote and grow the business.

As a consultant, he was in a position of trust, according to the complaint, having access to confidential business information such as recipes, vendor lists, marketing techniques and client information.

Voglio began providing consulting service to Bev’s Burgers, for the purpose of expanding the restaurants business model to include barbecue foods and to compete directly with Newberry Backyard BBQ, the complaint alleges.

The recipe for the “sloppy sandwich” sold by Newberry Backyard BBQ was one item Salisbury alleges was misused by Bev’s Burgers.

Bev’s Burgers is within the 35-mile radius covered by the agreement.

“Rather than spending their own time, money and effort to build their barbecue-related business,” the complaint reads, “Bev’s Burgers and Miller, in concert with Voglio, are seeking to replicate Backyard BBQ’s business model by using their confidential and proprietary information misappropriated by Voglio during his involvement with Backyard BBQ.”

Salisbury and Newberry Backyard BBQ sent a letter to Voglio on May 7, demanding he stop all activities violating the non-compete agreement. A letter was also sent to Miller and Bev’s Burgers requesting the same thing.

The letter also accuses Miller and Voglio of soliciting customers of Newberry Backyard BBQ while also defaming and slandering it.

The attorneys for Newberry Backyard BBQ asked for a trial by jury. The complaint also asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent Voglio from providing barbecue-related services to Bev’s Burgers.  

Salisbury is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, in addition to the return of the proprietary information and the dissolution of the relationship between Voglio and Bev’s Burgers.

On Oct. 18, Miller’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The motion maintains the contract was invalid because it offered no new considerations to Voglio. According to contract law, the motion reads, a valid contract has to offer consideration to each party. Consideration is the exchange of something of value for something of value. It continues to point out that the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted on several legal theories, including a “legal impossibility” and “failure to properly allege the elements of the cause of action.”

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