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Rascal Flatts-Themed Restaurants Fall Through in Chicago and Across U.S.

An explosive report levied serious allegations against an investor

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Rascal Flatts’s Fulton Market restaurant isn’t happening, at least as first planned.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The Rascal Flatts-themed restaurant and music venue won’t be coming to Fulton Market. A rep for developer Thor Equities on Tuesday night told Curbed Chicago that no tenants had signed onto the project at 800 W. Fulton Market. While the developer wouldn’t specify the reasons behind the plan’s failure, a report in the Arizona Republic levied serious allegations behind an investor.

The first and only Rascal Flatts restaurant opened in 2017 in Stamford, Connecticut. It closed on August. The Rascal Flatts plan for Chicago first surfaced in September 2017. Backers behind the restaurant were apparently riddled with problems, according to the Arizona Republic. A bar was also planned for Phoenix. The paper’s investigation centered around Frank Capri, a man with alleged mob connections who was enrolled in the Federal Witness Protection Program. The report claims Capri, though not publicly connected with the restaurants, supervised on the plans all around the country. Read a passage from the story on how the projects went awry:

And money meant to pay for construction? Gone. Part of a plan apparently orchestrated by a mob turncoat who walked out of prison and into a new life years ago, courtesy of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

The project would have been simply be called Rascal Flatts, the latest in themed restaurants whose operators bought the rights to use the musicians’s names. Rascal Flatts announced back in January that their restaurant projects, also planned for Cleveland and Pittsburgh, weren’t happening. Taste of Country picked up the story. The Twitter post read that after licensing the band’s name to the developer years ago, the band decided to end the relationship. An effort to open in Des Moines, Iowa, is also dead. The Iowa news also broke on Wednesday before the Republic published its report.

The Republic also reported that Capri was behind Toby Keith’s chain of restaurants. A location was located in suburban Rosemont that infamously closed in 2015. The paper also uncovered lawsuits in which developers claimed Capri stiffed them. They alleged fraud and theft followed. The paper published a long history of Capri, describing his alleged mob ties.

On the surface, it reads a themed restaurant will no longer open on Fulton Market. But apparently, the reasoning behind this is more complicated than the developers shared.