Dog Nuvo temporarily closed as dogfight heats up between hot-dog vendors



From left: Skudra, Roth and Blasco are in a hot dogfight over hot dogs.
  • From left: Skudra, Roth and Blasco are in a hot dogfight over hot dogs.
From left: Skudra, Roth and Blasco are in a hot dogfight over hot dogs.
Instead of hustling in the kitchen and grilling hot dogs for the lunch crowd, which typically gathers outside the glass doors of Dog Nuvo at 1724 Main, chef Marshall Roth and his business partner, Harry Blasco, sit in the sun at one of the cafe tables in front of the building with their employee, Mandy Skudra.

The customers who walk toward the entrance are confused.

"We're not open today," Roth tells the three young businessmen in dress shirts and neatly ironed slacks as they try to open the glass door. "We're being sued by our former employer."

That's the truth: Independence attorney Ken McClain, who owns several restaurants in historic downtown Independence, has filed both a lawsuit and a restraining order against his former employees, Roth and Blasco, claiming that the two owners of Dog Nuvo took trade secrets from him when they gave notice earlier this year.

Roth and Blasco say hogwash.

"Yes, Ken wanted to open his own hot-dog restaurant in Independence," Roth says, "but all of his ideas were his, not mine. We presented him with ideas, and he didn't like any of them."

McClain has yet to open his own hot-dog concept, even though Fat City wrote about it two months ago.

"They should have called their business Fraud Nuvo!" McClain says by phone from Columbia, Missouri. "This was my idea from traveling around the country and seeing gourmet hot-dog restaurants in other cities. I paid both of them to implement my concept, and instead they ran off with my ideas. It will all come out in court."

McClain scoffs that Roth created any hot-dog culinary ideas of his own: "I paid interns to develop my recipes and ideas, and my two employees were, behind my back, creating their own business plan last June, planning to open the same concept. They incorporated their business in June, and Harry left my company in July and Marshall in August, after telling me they were leaving to create a completely different business."

Blasco says his attorney is going to work to have the restraining order lifted this week so that Roth can start grilling gourmet hot dogs again. Blasco calls McClain a bully and feels that he and Roth are being punished for leaving McClain's business: "The minute I gave my 30-day notice," Blasco says, "Ken never spoke to me again."

McClain hopes to have his own hot-dog restaurant open in January or next spring. Blasco and Roth hope to be back in business by Friday. They're telling their customers that, anyway.

"We've sunk everything into our business," Blasco says. "We've got to win this."

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