Investor Sues Urban Flats Founder

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Restaurateur Manny Garcia, who, in 2006, became an investor in the Urban Flats Flatbread Co., has filed suit against Urban Flats founder Donna Suzanne Bonham. The suit, which was filed in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange County, claims, among other things, that in an effort to induce Garcia to invest in the company Bonham “inflated the sales figures presented to Mr. Garcia by personally (or by personally instructing employees of the LLC Defendants) charging fictitious sales onto her credit cards or onto the credit cards of her employees.” The suit also claims breach of demand on a promissory note of $200,000.

Garcia would not comment on the lawsuit. Bonham did not return a call.

Urban Flats opened in 2005 at 601 S. New York Ave. in Winter Park. The concept was a simple one of flatbreads with a variety of toppings cooked in a special oven and other casual menu items, such as fresh salads. Flatbreads, now nearly ubiquitous on restaurant menus, were a fairly unique concept at the time, especially as the focus of a restaurant’s menu. The restaurant also offered an array of fine wines as well as a full liquor bar. There are currently nine locations listed on the Urban Flats Web site, although the original location has closed. (The Web site also tells visitors to “look for us on Park Ave. in the future,” although no Park Avenue location is currently under contract.)

Heartland Food Corporation, a Chicago based company that owns several Burger King franchises, recently attempted to purchase Urban Flats and become the franchisor. That deal fell through, the suit alleges, because of financial misrepresentation.

One of the newer Flats, at The Dellagio on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row, was recently purchased by Garcia and his daughter and son-in-law, Gina and Michael Buell. Plans are currently underway to rebrand that location with a new name and concept. The Buells also own and operate an Urban Flats in The Villages as franchisees.

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