Celebrity chef Guy Fieri is seeking to dissolve the Johnny Garlic’s restaurant chain, which he co-owns along with Steve Gruber. According to reports, Fieri filed the dissolution petition with the California Secretary of State on December 14. One week later, the Food Network star’s business partner, Steve Gruber, filed a petition to halt the dissolution.
Guy and Steve founded Johnny Garlic’s in 1996. The Santa Rosa, California, restaurant was a local success. However, it did not gain national attention until Fieri appeared in, and won, The Next Food Network Star in 2005.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Guy Ramsey Ferry was raised in Ferndale, California. According to the Johnny Garlic’s official website, Guy began cooking at a very young age. With the help of his father, he built a food stand and started selling pretzels at the age of 10.
Within six years, the teen earned enough money to travel to Chantilly, France, to study cooking abroad. After returning to the United States, he earned a degree in hospitality management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Following graduation, Guy worked in several prominent restaurants including Louise’s Trattoria, Red Lion Inn, and Stouffer’s. As he became a well-respected chef and restaurant manager, he eventually changed his last name to “Fieri” — which is the original spelling of his family name.
In 1996, Guy Fieri and Steve Gruber founded Johnny Garlic’s, which features Italian cuisine. Over the next 20 years, the restaurant expanded to seven locations throughout California including Brentwood, Dublin, and the original location in Santa Rosa.
Although Johnny Garlic’s was an instant success, Guy’s Next Food Network Star win brought the restaurant national recognition. The company logo now contains the phrase “A Guy Fieri Restaurant,” and a number of menu items also feature the celebrity chef’s name and signature recipes.
A spokeswoman confirmed Fieri’s petition for dissolution in an official statement, which was published by Press Democrat.
“After more than 20 successful years as a partner in Johnny Garlic’s Inc., Guy Fieri has chosen to separate from the company and its restaurants for creative and operational considerations… Guy wishes the entire Johnny Garlic’s Inc., team the best.”
Although Gruber did not provide further explanation, he confirmed him and Guy “were unable to agree on a price for Fieri’s shares.” In his counter-petition, Gruber asked the court to appoint an appraiser to determine the fair market value of the shares.
Johnny Garlic’s chief financial officer, Amy Witt, confirmed further confirmed that “Guy Fieri filed to dissolve the company and Steve Gruber filed a petition to stop the dissolution.” Although she did not discuss the reason behind the proposed dissolution, Witt said Johnny Garlic’s restaurant chain will remain open amid the court proceedings.
— Salon.com (@Salon) December 28, 2015
It is unclear whether Gruber will be forced to remove Guy Fieri’s name from the company’s logo and menu items if the court grants the proposed dissolution. Currently, the celebrity chef’s image and name are prominently displayed on the restaurant’s menu, logo, and promotional materials.
Following his Next Food Network star win, Guy Fieri has starred in numerous cooking programs including Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Dinner Impossible, and Guy’s Grocery Games.
— First We Feast (@firstwefeast) December 28, 2015
The celebrity chef is also the co-author of three books, which include Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives: An All-American Road Trip … with Recipes!,More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: Another Drop-Top Culinary Cruise Through America’s Finest and Funkiest, and Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It.
In addition to Johnny Garlic’s, Guy Fieri owns several other restaurants, including Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar, and Tex Wasabi’s.
It is unclear exactly why the Food Network star is seeking to dissolve Johnny Garlic’s. However, Steve Gruber seems to be dedicated to keeping the restaurant open — with or without Guy Fieri.
[Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP]