Advertisement
  1. Archive

The future of St. Petersburg Mini Doughtnut Factory uncertain as legal battle continues

The South Tampa shop may have reopened, but the company's investor-turned-manager says the shops' founders refuse to give up the accounts he needs to run the business.
Doughnuts being made and topped at the Mini Doughnut Factory in St. Petersburg when it opened in December 2017. The store is now closed as the result of an ongoing legal battle. (DIRK SHADD | Times
Published Jan. 11

The mini doughnut drama is dragging on.

After legal woes shut down both of Tampa Bay's Mini Doughnut Factory shops, the business' South Tampa location has reopened — but not its sister location across the bay.

The St. Petersburg shop is still closed as the pastry company's lead investor and founders continue a courtroom battle over who has rights to the company and its assets.

Investor and Tampa real estate agent Lee Kearney had filed two lawsuits against shop founders Patrick and Zezura Ruddell in December. One said the couple was in default and owed Kearney and his associate companies roughly $875,000. The other accused the Ruddells of mismanaging the shops and breaking a legal agreement. The lawsuit says by breaking that contract, the Ruddells forfeited their managing rights.

But the Ruddells refuse to accept they no longer manage the business, according to Kearney's latest filing. A Jan. 4 emergency motion asks the court to compel the Ruddells to give Kearney access to the business' social media, administrative accounts and other assets needed to do business — from recipes to pre-orders.

"Unless injunctive relief is granted by this Court, there very likely will be no St. Petersburg Mini Doughnut location," the lawsuit says.

By Dec. 26, according to court records, the store's St. Petersburg employees quit, forcing Kearney to close the store at 730 4th St N. That broke the space's lease agreement, which requires the business be closed no more than 10 days per year. Now the company is facing a notice of default from its St. Pete landlord.

Without access to its accounts, Kearney and employees missed online orders made by brides who pre-paid or left deposits for treats on their wedding days, according to the lawsuit. Kearney also says the couple changed the public Mini Doughnut phone number to his cell phone, prompting countless phone calls.

Kearney's attorney said his client is not making any comments during the litigation. The Ruddells did not return a request for comment.

In an email included in Kearney's latest motion, Patrick Ruddell wrote: "When you are ready to discuss dropping the lawsuits against us and settling we will hand everything over."

Kearney's lawsuits spelled out months of trouble while the Ruddells were running the business — from an unexpected trademark lawsuit to missed bills and tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales.

A recorded greeting on Kearney's cellphone — still listed as the public number of the company online — says the Tampa store is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week. The St. Pete location, he says in the voice message, will be open "soon."

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Firemen and ambulance attendants remove a body from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where an explosion ripped the structure during services Sept.15,1963 . Associated Press
    Fifty-six years ago, a bomb blew apart the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four girls and injuring dozens more.
  2. Danielle Harris of Pinellas Park leans against a large photo of Terri Schiavo and her mother, Mary Schindler, during a vigil outside the Woodside Hospice Villas in 2003. Associated Press
    “Terri Schiavo is now a martyr,” one then-state representative said upon learning of her death.
  3. Taylor Bland-Ball, 22, posted this photo and open letter to Judge Thomas Palermo to her Instagram account on September 10, the day after she lost custody of her 4-year-old son Noah McAdams. The boy's parents wanted to treat his leukemia with natural health care remedies instead of chemotherapy. [Instagram] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Instagram
    The couple refused chemotherapy for their son, instead seeking alternative treatments including dietary plans, alkaline water and THC and CBD oil treatments
  4. Joe Walsh. [Associated Press]
  5. The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies have been searching a wide area of ocean between Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville. [Associated Press]
  6. Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a Bipartisan Congressional Veterans Advisory Board meeting at the Dunedin Public Library on Monday. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE   |   Times]
  7. Priscilla Shirer plays high school principal Olivia Brooks in “Overcomer,” a new film from the Kendrick Brothers. Photo courtesy of Sony/Affirm Films
  8. The men who create the toys received each Christmas season by many children in Polk County are far from being unblemished elves. [Polk County Toys For Tots/Facebook]
  9. Aug. 16• Archive
  10. Actor Danny Masterson arrives at the Youth for Human Rights International Celebrity Benefit in Los Angeles in 2014. He called a lawsuit filed Wednesday against him and Scientology “beyond ridiculous.” Associated Press (2014)
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement