The son of soul music legend Gladys Knight is fighting to keep her name on his troubled Atlanta restaurants, saying her “lack of mental capacity” bars her from removing it, recent federal court filings state.
Knight, an Atlanta native, filed suit in August to take her name off of Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles after her son Shanga Hankerson’s June arrest on counts of felony theft by taking. Investigators said Hankerson collected sales taxes and failed to turn them over to the state.
Hankerson's attorney Dana Tucker Davis said her client believes Knight lacks the "mental capacity" to decide to take her name off the restaurants because she is being misinformed about their state and his role in its recent troubles.
“Everyone makes mistakes, and one of the mistakes Shanga made is not being as hands-on in day-to-day management as he should have been in the last couple of years,” Tucker Davis said.
The restaurants are now paying their taxes, have good health inspection scores, and have addressed other management issues, she said.
In her suit, Knight said that she terminated Hankerson’s right to use her name on the day he turned himself in to authorities, adding that her son renounced “any ownership interest in or current license” to use it. By continuing to use her name, memorabilia and intellectual property, the restaurant harms her reputation as "the Empress of Soul,” and gives the false impression that it’s tied to her, her suit said.
Hankerson’s response was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
The state revenue department said Knight was not involved in wrongdoing or involved in the day-to-day operation of the restaurant.
Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles is in receivership and has since closed its Lithonia location permanently. Its popular downtown location on Peachtree Street remains open, as does its Cascade location.