Foodservice Equipment Reports

Utah Town Repeals Ban On Chain Restaurants

After a decade of legal battles, a small Utah town outside Zion National Park has repealed a ban on chain restaurants, clearing the way for one of the country’s restaurant chains to open its doors.

A franchisee group has been trying to open a Subway sandwich shop in Springdale, Utah, since 2006. But they’ve been fighting with the town over a law it passed that same year banning what Springdale called “formula” restaurants, or those that use packaging, preparation methods, signs, uniforms, decorations or menu items that are identical to any other location.

Springdale Mayor Stan Smith said the ordinance was already in the works when the Subway franchisees applied for a business license. “It was put in place to protect the character and the feel of Springdale,” the mayor told the Associated Press.

In 2010, franchisee Jack Fotheringham and his business partners sued Springdale officials in a federal lawsuit, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutional and they were being discriminated against. After five years of legal wrangling, town officials have repealed the ordinance, deciding it had grown difficult to defend. According to the AP, Springdale’s insurance carrier was threatening to drop the town’s coverage because the law left them vulnerable to continued legal costs.

There have been signs up in the vacant restaurant’s window advertising the potential Subway for years, and Fotheringham told the press that tourists stop by every day hoping to buy sandwiches at the closed shop. “The Subway has been ready to open for the last six years, and it hasn't stopped anybody from coming here.”

The outlet should open in the next few weeks.