Paul Abrahamian — the founder of local gourmet chicken tender chain Sticky’s Finger Joint — is suing the company and its co-owners to the tune of $25 million for allegedly mismanaging Sticky’s development and pushing him out of company leadership, according to a new lawsuit.
Abrahamian alleges in the suit that Sticky’s co-owners Jon Sherman and his father, Michael Sherman, cut corners on food quality, health safety, and staff development during the rise of the chicken chain, resulting in financial losses. The chain — which includes a dozen locations across NYC — is currently worth over $50 million according to the lawsuit, but “had the founder’s vision and plans been followed, Sticky’s today would be worth far more.”
According to the suit, Abrahamian partnered with Jon, a childhood friend, to launch the chain in 2011. Jon’s father, Michael, joined the project as a co-owner and provided the capital to get Sticky’s up and running. Shortly after, the father-and-son team allegedly started to cut costs by buying cheaper ingredients and products for the stores than what was originally agreed upon. The Shermans’ also allegedly mishandled food sanitation procedures at the restaurants and allowed the shops to cook the food in bulk, letting it sit for “significant periods of time before serving,” the suit details, leading to a decline in food quality.
The lawsuit also claims that the Shermans engaged in nepotism and cut Abrahamian out of decision-making processes as the chain grew.
Although he remains an owner in the company, Abrahamian hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day operations at Sticky’s since leaving his leadership role with the restaurants in 2015. Abrahamian’s lawyer declined to provide details on what happened, saying only that “the majority interest no longer wanted him involved in active management.” Jon declined to comment on Abrahamian’s departure from the company.
“The company does not comment on pending litigation and will address the allegations in court through counsel,” Jon said in a statement over email. “Mr. Abrahamian has not held any management role with Sticky’s since 2015, and since that time Sticky’s has grown from two locations to 12, with a 13th scheduled to open next month.”
Since its founding, Sticky’s established itself in the city as an eclectic spot for gourmet chicken tenders that come laden with unexpected toppings like salted caramel pretzel bits, buffalo balsamic maple sauce, and a vampire aioli. The chain has mostly stayed open during the pandemic, with locations including Hell’s Kitchen, Murray Hill, and Union Square shops offering delivery and takeout.
The full lawsuit is below: