Motown legend Gladys Knight and her son Shanga Hankerson have gone to war over the use of her name at his Atlanta restaurants, Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffle.
Her name and brand have been greatly sullied and contaminated since her son was arrested for allegedly robbing the restaurant chain – just months after one of the restaurant stores failed a health inspection. Subsequently, Knight is demanding that he remove her name from all the restaurants, but he counters harshly, saying that she she lacks the mental capacity to cancel the licensing deal.
Back in June, federal agents raided the restaurants and Hankerson was arrested on two counts of felony theft by taking $52,600 in sales tax collected in March and April, according to a Georgia Department of Revenue investigator. The AJC stated Hankerson was accused of taking a total of $650,000 in state sales and withholding taxes, which after penalties and interest totals more than $1 million.
He was later released on $20,000 bond from the Clayton County jail in suburban Atlanta.
As been previously reported, Knight has never had any role in the business. She simply allowed her son to leverage her respectable name under a licensing deal to help market the restaurant. But now Knight wants out after since the Department of Revenue accused Shanga of theft and tax evasion after federal agents raided three of his restaurants and shut down operations at all the stories.
The mother and son had a 10-year licensing deal that ran out in 2009. Since then, they agreed on an oral licensing arrangement. Now the 72-year-old iconic singer does not have any affiliation with her son’s business.
After her son’s arrest, Knight filed a lawsuit “demanding damages for Hankerson’s continued use of her name on the restaurant chain, as well as ‘certain proprietary recipes and memorabilia, including Knight’s dresses/costumes and photographs featuring Knight and other celebrities.”
Shanga is denying any wrongdoing and confirms his mother HAS been paid and he wants the lawsuit thrown out.