Cactus Club Cafe Founder Richard Jaffray Gives Up Ownership Stake

When the co-founder and president of the restaurant chain departs in March, longtime silent partners the Fuller family will become full owners.

After 34 years, Richard Jaffray is stepping aside as an owner and executive of Cactus Club Cafe, the national restaurant chain he co-founded. The Fuller family, who have been silent partners since the company began, will become full owners.

Jaffray first revealed this news in a written message to the management and head office team at Cactus Club and its sister restaurants, Taphouse and King Taps.

The restaurateur is president of the North Vancouver–based business, which he launched in 1988 with fellow former Earls server Scott Morison. “When I started Cactus I found myself in need of investors to grow the company,” he explained. “An ownership agreement was created by myself and the other initial shareholders, the late Bus Fuller, his son, Stan Fuller, and Earl’s Holdings Ltd.” As a young entrepreneur, he was grateful for the opportunity, Jaffray added, noting that this “unique arrangement” held for decades.

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In recent years, though, Jaffray has been embroiled in a legal battle with the Fuller family. “The relationship has become so acrimonious that the Fullers are calling for the company that runs Cactus Club to be completely dissolved,” CBC News reported in 2019.

In documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the owners of the Earls chain alleged that Jaffray had misused restaurant funds on private jets and art for his home, according to CBC. On the other side, “There are claims that the Fullers have used Cactus Club’s confidential financial information to give an unfair edge to upstart competitor Joey.”

Credit: Paul Duchart

Cactus Club Cafe co-founder and president Richard Jaffray (left) with Peter Legge, chair and CEO of Canada Wide Media, in 2015

In his announcement, Jaffray wrote that he recently “initiated a buy-sell clause that was established long ago in the ownership agreement. This week, the other shareholders exercised their option to purchase my ownership stake, a transaction that will be completed on March 2, 2022—at which time I will no longer be an owner or executive with Cactus.” Until then, he will remain committed to the company, Jaffray said.

“To say this is very difficult is an understatement,” he continued. “For decades I have committed myself completely to Cactus and to the 32 locations we have built together.”

Both parties appear to have put aside their differences. “We have enormous respect for what Richard has built,” Stan Fuller said in a statement on behalf of his family.

“Our commitment is to preserve and build on the work Richard has done to build the Cactus Club brand into such a success,” Fuller added. “Cactus Club has always been independent, and it will stay that way, and as such we don’t intend to make any changes to the Cactus restaurants, brand, or culture, and we are committed to Cactus Club’s talent. We value the relationship we have had with Richard and wish him nothing but the best for the future.”

The same press release also included a brief comment from Jaffray. “I am incredibly proud of the team that built Cactus Club into Canada’s leading casual fine dining brand,” he said. “There is no finer team to be found anywhere, and I know they will carry the Cactus Club brand on to continued success in the future.”