This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
While Utah diners were mourning the abrupt closure of Training Table restaurants this week, a battle between the father and daughter who co-own the Utah hamburger chain is being waged in court.
The Training Table a "Utah original" where customers dialed in their orders from phones on their tables announced the closure of its five restaurants in Salt Lake City, Holladay, Layton, Riverton and Sandy on Wednesday. "After 39 wonderful years, yesterday (Tuesday) was our final day serving cheese fries, dipping sauce and burgers," said a post on the company's Facebook page.
The statement made no mention of an ongoing lawsuit that Stephanie Chard, the CEO and president of Training Table Restaurants (TTR), has filed against her father, Kent Chard, who co-founded the company in 1977.
Stephanie Chard is seeking unspecified damages for loss of "past, present and future business opportunities," as well as depreciation, according to the suit filed in June in 3rd District Court.
She is also suing two of her father's longtime advisers Peter Ennenga, a lawyer who runs her father's trust, and Don Sorenson, the former Training Table accountant and Training Table Land and Holdings (TTLH), which leases the Training Table buildings.
Stephanie Chard alleges that the defendants "engaged in fraudulent or dishonest conduct or gross abuse of authority" in running the company.
In a counter claim, Kent Chard alleges his daughter "engaged in outrageous conduct" that has caused him to "suffer extreme mental distress, humiliation, anguish, and emotional and physical injuries, as well as economic losses."
A three-day bench trial, before 3rd District Judge Robert Faust, is set for Jan. 25-27.
Stephanie Chard says the problems at Training Table Restaurant began in 2012 when she purchased 50 percent of the company.
Chard contends that on the same day she purchased the stock, the TTLH changed the lease on the buildings, "setting rents at amounts above market value."
The suit also alleges that since the stock purchase, Kent Chard has only been minimally involved in the management or operations, but drew a salary "disproportionate to any actual work he was providing." The situation, "caused a serious financial strain on the company," she alleges.
Stephanie Chard, who has been CEO and president since 2013, insists that the Training Table buildings are in disrepair and "substantial capital improvements need to be done" but her father has refused to help pay for that or "maintain or increase the cash flow of the business."
Kent Chard contends in his filing that soon after his daughter acquired Training Table stock, "she started to exercise greater control over the operations and finances" and as a result the relationship soured.
He alleges his daughter took steps to exclude him from the operation and hired estate lawyers to gain control of his personal assets.
Before filing the suit, Stephanie Chard offered to buy her father's share of the business and lawyers negotiated for several months in an unsuccessful attempt to reach an agreement.