Sizzler sues Burger Urge over cheesy ‘tribute’
A David and Goliath food fight threatens to cripple Queensland's Burger Urge after billion-dollar empire Collins Foods took the chain to court over its sale of the 'Sizzler sandwich'.
Collins Foods, the parent company of Sizzler, KFC and Taco Bell, is pursuing the Queensland-based Burger Urge for damages following its sale of a Sizzler sandwich and cheese bread earlier this year.
The sandwich, made of fried chicken, bacon and aioli on cheese bread, prompted Sizzler to slap Burger Urge with a cease and desist notice - which forced the chain to rename it as the 'Sizzle'.
However, lawyers for Collins Foods have now demanded Burger Urge pay up to $100,000 in compensation for damages, with the case set for a judgment summary in the Federal Court later this month to decide whether it goes to trial or mediation.
Separately, Collins announced last month it would close all nine Australian Sizzler restaurants.
Burger Urge founder and CEO Sean Carthew said he was shocked Collins was pursuing the case, arguing the 13-day campaign generated few sales and did lot lure customers away from Sizzler.
"There doesn't seem to be any rational or logical explanation," he said.
"We don't understand what damage could have possibly been caused.
"The idea we've caused damage to the brand … they're clutching at straws and there's no logical rationale for it."
Collins Foods declined to comment to questions put by The Courier Mail.
The ASX-listed company has a market cap of $1.2bn and revenue of $981m last financial year.
Mr Carthew said Burger Urge's campaign was aimed as "a tribute" to Sizzler - running for a fortnight and generating less than $10,000 in sales.
"It was all satirical, all tongue-in-cheek," he said.
"There was nothing untoward, it was just a bit of lighthearted fun.
"It was never intended to go this far.
"I don't know if lawyers don't have a lot of work on at the moment and they are just looking for some work."
Mr Carthew said he had reached out to Collins CEO Drew O'Malley for a face-to-face meeting, which was denied.
"They haven't given us the forum to talk it through, instead they've been left in the hand of these litigators," he said.
Mr Carthew said Burger Urge's $35m annual turnover made the legal battle a "David and Goliath fight".
"We don't have the means to fund a Federal Court trial," he said.
"We're a little business and we're competing with multinationals in a very crowded space."
Mr Carthew said he was "sad to hear" Sizzler would close and, despite the legal battle, considered having a farewell lunch at the buffet restaurant for his Burger Urge colleagues.
"We hope we can reach a settlement," he said.
"There's more important things happening in the world right now."
Originally published as 'Just having a laugh': Sizzler sues Burger Urge over cheesy 'tribute'