Trill Burgers: Internal War Erupts

Trill Burgers
Trill Burgers | Image by Trill Burgers/Facebook

The battle between the co-founders of Trill Burgers, a celebrated restaurant venture in Houston’s growing food scene, has taken a contentious turn as allegations of theft and recipe swiping continue to fly.

The conflict, which has simmered behind the scenes of Trill Burgers for some time, erupted into public view with rap legend Bun B and his leadership team pointing fingers at ex-associates for allegedly pilfering funds from the company’s reservoirs. In a tit-for-tat response, the ousted co-founders, Patsy and Benson Vivares, have retaliated with counterclaims, asserting that their original smash burger-related concept was stolen, according to The Houston Chronicle.

The saga has continued to unfold through recent court documents obtained by Fox 26 News Houston, shedding light on the intricate dynamics within the culinary world and the high stakes involved in crafting and claiming ownership of innovative restaurant ventures adjacent to profit-growing venues.

The documents have also revealed that the latest lawsuit aimed at the burger company reaffirms claims of internal turmoil. Despite its external success, Trill Burgers still faces a wall of online criticism, highlighted by social media interaction. Established in July 2021, the restaurant quickly became a local culinary sensation within the city, participating in high-profile events such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

According to the restaurant’s official website, Trill Burgers was established “in the summer of 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with pop-ups at local culinary events.”

The genesis of Trill Burgers traces back to a fateful meeting in March 2021, where the Vivareses, proprietors of an additional pseudo-succesful ‘Sticky’s Chicken’, sought to diversify their menu offerings. Enter Andy Nguyen, a California-based food entrepreneur, who pitched the idea of Houston-based smash burgers, then gained traction across the culinary landscape, according to the company’s website.

The Vivareses continued to embark on a journey to craft what would eventually become the trademarked “Trill Burger,” apparently investing considerable time and effort into perfecting the recipe, as outlined in claims made by their legal representatives, Saad Aziz and Walter “Web” Beard, via The Houston Chronicle.

However, most consumers would attribute the brand’s success to the association with Houston’s potentially most commercially successful rapper, Bun B.

Fast forward to July 2021, a pivotal moment when the Vivareses, Nguyen, and Bun B, a Houston rap luminary and city-wide entrepreneur, forged a partnership to bring the Trill Burger concept to life. However, what began as a promising collaboration soon unraveled amid accusations and recriminations.

The fissures in their alliance widened in May 2022, marked by a contentious episode involving funds allegedly misappropriated by Bun B to procure a vehicle for promotional purposes, according to The Houston Chronicle. The Vivareses allege that this incident was a turning point, eroding the trust between the erstwhile partners.

In the subsequent months, tensions escalated in July 2022, when the Vivareses were confronted with accusations of embezzlement and were pressured to relinquish their stake in the business, according to Fox 26.

The aftermath saw the Vivareses exit the Trill Burgers venture, marking the end of Sticky’s Chicken, their culinary enterprise. Meanwhile, Trill Burgers, under the stewardship of Bun B, Nguyen, and Scurfield, pressed ahead, solidifying its status as a culinary juggernaut.

However, the specter of legal wrangling loomed as Bun B, Nguyen, and Scurfield filed a lawsuit in August 2023, alleging that the Vivareses absconded with $45,000 from Trill Burgers’ coffers, reported The Houston Chronicle.

In a twist, the Vivareses fired back with counterclaims in January 2024, asserting their rightful ownership of the original Trill Burger recipe, and are seeking damages totaling $1 million from Bun B, Scurfield, Nguyen, and Trill Burgers, LLC.

Amidst the legal storm, Trill Burgers has emerged as a culinary sensation, drawing A-list clientele and garnering acclaim for its delectable offerings. Yet, the bitter dispute between its founders serves as a cautionary tale, underscoring the perils of the partnership and the complexities of intellectual property rights.

Viral marketing videos, such as a clip featuring NBA star James Harden grabbing 4 Trill Burgers for himself in the middle of a lively nightclub, have helped boost interest in the restaurant adjacent to its Underground King musical group’s ties.

Trill Burgers also “won a coveted Gold Buckle Foodie Award for Best Classic Fair Food at the 2023 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo,” according to the restaurant’s website. Yet, as the legal battle rages on, the future of Trill Burgers hangs in the balance, with a court date slated for April 30 promising further revelations in the restaurant’s ongoing saga.

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