In Florida, 5 Rascal Flatts restaurants stalled before ever opening

A former Mafia soldier is behind a chain of failed Rascal Flatts restaurant projects across the country, including several in Florida.

Arizona businessman Frank Capri apparently orchestrated the closure of Rascal Flatts restaurant projects in Gainesville and Orlando. Three others were planned in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa.

An investigation by The Arizona Republic found Capri controlled key aspects of the Rascal Flatts projects, even though his name can’t be found on public documents tied to the projects.

Capri is best known for the epic failure of another country-themed restaurant chain.

His company Boomtown Entertainment operated a nationwide chain of Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill restaurants that abruptly closed in 2015 amid allegations of fraud, contract breaches, unpaid rent, stiffing contractors or unpaid taxes.

The Toby Keith’s at Artegon Marketplace in Orlando opened in January 2015 and closed in July 2015. Lawsuits and liens filed by the landlord and contractors accused Boomtown of failing to pay rent and not paying contractors. The owners of the Orlando mall sued and obtained a $3.8 million judgment against Capri and his companies in 2015.

Announced restaurant projects at Lakeland Square Mall in Lakeland and Roosevelt Square Mall in Jacksonville never were built.

By late 2017, judges had ordered Capri and his companies to pay more than $65 million in judgments.

The Rascal Flatts projects in Florida exploded last year amid a state contractor’s investigation and claims that unlicensed builders were working on jobs across the state.

Phone calls recorded by one of Capri’s contractors show how Capri tried to control the damage and how he discussed moving contractors from city to city to take advantage of a loophole in state laws.

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