Listen: Roman's Pizza CEO threatens rival with war
'I got cash flow coming out of my arse, boet ... I'm gonna put your family on the street'
"I don’t care, boet, you want war, we go to war."
These were the words of Roman's Pizza CEO John Nicolakakis in a phone call to a rival businessman, whose business is one of three rival pizza companies he has accused of stealing his business plan.
A recording of the phone call has been released to Times Select.
Nicolakakis, who does not deny the contents of the recording, has accused one of the rival pizzerias of unethical behaviour, as they allegedly used Roman’s Pizza plans to open their new store in King William’s Town.
In the phone conversation, Nicolakakis threatens to “burn them down” and “go to war with them”.
Apparently the recording was made late last year, but the businessman said he only came forward with it now because the threats would not stop.
At the receiving end are 2 Brothers Pizza in King William’s Town, owned by Reno Ioannou, Rebels Pizza owned by Anthony Velissaridis and Take 2 Pizza company, owned by Dennis Alagiozoglou.
Nicolakakis’ Roman’s Pizza company is the second largest in the country after Debonairs.
In the recording, he can be heard saying: “I got cash flow coming out of my arse, boet”, threatening that he will fight until the stores are shut down.Reno Ioannou, who obtained the recording, said these were serious threats coming from Nicolakakis. He said his brother, Paris Ioannou, was on the receiving end of the conversation.
“John’s a threat to us, he wants to eliminate us and he continues to do this today. We don’t know what next he will do. We invested millions of rand in this business that he wants us to close down. He called this a war and war has casualties. I am really afraid of his words,” said Ioannou.
“When he defranchised my brother's (Paris) Roman’s Pizza store he sent us an urgent high court application, which was later dismissed. He was ordered to pay the costs, which he hasn't paid yet,” claimed Ioannou.Roman’s Pizza took the matter to the Eastern Cape High Court sitting in East London in July last year.
“It must however be noted that although Roman’s Pizza’s urgent application was struck from the roll for lack of urgency, the matter is still pending before court. Roman’s Pizza has therefore not ‘lost the case in the Eastern Cape’ as suggested,” said Nicolakakis.
This week, Roman’s Pizza wrote to 2 Brothers Pizza claiming outstanding shop stock money, money they owed while were still running Roman’s Pizza franchises. “We owe him for some stocks and his attorneys sent the letter demanding payment, but he owes us legal fees money,” said Ioannou.
In the recording, Nicolakakis could be heard screaming and swearing at Paris.
“I accordingly trust that the voice recording that was sent to you, will be seen in light of the unlawful actions of 2 Brothers Pizza, and in light of the fact that it was made when I accidentally discovered that one of our long standing franchisees opened a competing business to Roman’s Pizza by unlawfully using Roman’s Pizza intellectual property. It obviously made me livid in the circumstances,” said Nicolakakis.He said it was true that he felt disgruntled about what transpired between Roman’s Pizza and Rebels Pizza and 2 Brothers Pizza respectively. “They were both longstanding franchisees of Roman’s Pizza, who then decided to take unfair advantage of the brand and/or elected to become encroached in legal battles. I believe that any businessman in my position would want them out of business.“
Rebels Pizza’s Velissaridis said his relationship with Nicolakakis has not been good and that the messy court cases had cost him money. “At this stage we are competitors and at the beginning things were not that good and we had messy court cases. It has been intimidating but I don’t hold any grudges.”
Take 2 Pizzas could not be reached for comment.
Nicolakakis said since the start of the disputes they’ve only competed lawfully with Rebels Pizza and 2 Brothers Pizza.
“I also wish to highlight that both Rebels Pizza and 2 Brothers Pizza were bound by restraints of trade in their franchise agreements with Roman’s Pizza and, as a gesture of good faith and healthy competition, Roman’s Pizza elected not to enforce such restraints,” said Nicolakakis.
Ioannou said that is a lie. “He isn't being truthful when saying I'm using his intellectual property. There’s isn't one thing of Roman's in my store, and you are welcome to come and see.”