Erich and Jennifer Weishaupt, owners of the popular local brunch chainlet Ruby Slipper Cafe, filed a lawsuit against their ex-employee Christopher Belou, who plans to open his own restaurant at the site of their original Mid-City location at South Cortez Street. According to NOLA.com, the Weishaupts are asking the judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop Belou’s new cafe from happening.
The Weishaupts, who run Ruby Slipper locations throughout the city as well as in Baton Rouge and Florida, claim that Belou (identified as their former head of business development) advised the couple to exit the South Cortez location earlier than necessary.
The South Cortez Street location’s lease was scheduled to end in April 2018, but the lawsuit alleges Belou advised Ruby Slipper to leave the location before the end of 2017. After receiving an unsolicited offer to exit the lease early from the landlord, the Weishaupts took Belou’s suggestion. The Ruby Slipper owners were also concerned about having too many locations in Mid-City, as the construction of its now-opened South Broad Street location and corporate headquarters was newly finished. The Weishaupts claim they had no knowledge that Belou was in negotiations of his own for this exact space; the suit says Belou was planning a breakfast/brunch spot, not unlike Ruby Slipper’s model.
Belou told NOLA.com, via email, that he had no hand in the decision for Ruby Slipper to leave the South Cortez Street spot. Belou resigned from Ruby Slipper on January 2nd.
While the lawsuit seeks to stop Belou for good, the Weishaupts have asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop Belou’s renovations of the space, which would include a complete re-do of the first floor and a new bar. The Weishaupts are seeking damages, and though the suit asks that all renovations (and restaurant plans) cease at the location, it’s unclear what the future of the South Cortez spot actually is — i.e. whether or not Ruby Slipper has any interest in taking it back.