The town, which is right near the Zion National Park, first banned chain restaurants in 2006, under the name of “formula restaurants” – effectually meaning any type of dining place which uses methods identical to other locations around the country, be it about food preparation or uniforms.
A local resident by the name of Jack Fotheringham claims that the 2006 ban was put into place specifically to thwart his plans of opening a Subway restaurant the same year. But Springdale Mayor Stan Smith, who also held the position at the time, said that the decision did not regard the resident’s plans and was more about maintaining a sense of identity for the town.
“It was put in place to protect the character and the feel of Springdale,” Smith said. “The restaurants are unique and individual and something you can’t get someplace else, and the residents felt strongly about that.”
He also added that having unique restaurants contribute to adding towards a sense of location, which in turn boasts the zone’s touristic potential. The town’s leadership is concerned with maintaining what they describe as a „parkitecture” aspect – which emphasizes the great view of the nearby national park over flashy signs and tall buildings.
But the decision to unban restaurant chains was taken after a lengthy legal battle, as Foteringham and his associates, who took Springadale’s leadership to coutr with a federal lawsuit in 2010. With discrimination and denying constitutional rights as its main counterpoints, the lawsuit was intensely disputed over the past five years – and it cost a heapton of money as well.
This year, town officials finally decided to give in and pull the plug on the case – as Fotheringham was becoming more and more likely to win the lawsuit and its prolonging costs serious chunks out of the local budget. It was ended by an in-court settlement in which the town agreed to repeal the law and pay upwards of $780,000 to Fotheringham and his associates.
Springdale is not a unique case of a little township which has forbidden corporate restaurant chains entry. There are a handful of other towns around the country with such legislature currently withstanding and no legal challenges – while others, such as Islamorada in Florida, had the same fate as the Utah town.
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