Gladys Knight's name will be removed from Atlanta restaurant
Soul singer and son were involved in legal dispute
The end of an era has come for an Atlanta dining institution.
After a heated legal dispute, legendary soul singer Gladys Knight’s name is no longer connected to the last of her three namesake restaurants, Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles.
The Grammy-winning artist filed a lawsuit in August 2016 against son Shanga Hankerson, owner of the three Atlanta-area restaurants. She demanded that he stop using her name and likeness in the restaurants, which serve traditional Southern fare, citing declining success and Hankerson’s ongoing legal troubles.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Peachtree Street location’s signage bore the same name it had when it opened in 1999 with star-studded fanfare. An employee answered the phone using the name Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles.
The online menu still offers the “Midnight Train” – “Southern fried jumbo chicken wings and one Original waffle” – named for Knight’s hit “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
But in a failed health inspection report on Monday, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the name listed at the restaurant’s address was The World Famous Chicken & Waffles. The restaurant passed an inspection on Tuesday under the same name.
Changes coming soon
General manager Tammy Caldwell confirmed that the new name was officially in place. She said the owner was in the process of updating signage and the website logo, but she said she did not know when the changes would take effect.
Hankerson and his lawyer did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.
Knight was born in Atlanta and lives in Nevada. She and her son entered into an agreement in 1999 allowing him to use her name and likeness in his restaurants in exchange for monthly royalties, according to her lawsuit.
Two more restaurants opened in the suburbs as the original intown location drew crowds of tourists and locals who would wait hours for fried chicken and waffles.
Knight’s federal lawsuit alleges mismanagement led to declining revenues. Hankerson denied the claims and said his mother did not have the mental capacity to terminate their agreement.
She formally ended the agreement in July 2016, one month after Georgia Department of Revenue agents executed search warrants at the restaurants and a corporate office in an attempt to arrest Hankerson in a tax and theft investigation.
Hankerson’s tax lawyer declined to comment to CNN at the time.
The parties settled the lawsuit in January on undisclosed terms, court records indicate.
The other two restaurants no longer operate.