Back in January, Rascal Flatts delivered the bad news that their plans to open their own restaurant chain would not be moving forward. At the time, the group indicated that they had severed ties with the restaurant developer to whom they had originally licensed their name. Now, an exposé published by the Arizona Republic offers new insight into exactly why that deal fell through.

According to the Republic, the developer, an alleged mobster named Frank Capri, walked away from the failed project with millions of dollars. The article also published a series of expletive-riddled excerpts of voicemails left by Capri in an attempt to cajole and threaten his way into even more money from the halted development deal.

It seems as though Capri received help from the Federal Witness Protection Program after finishing a prison sentence, and used his new identity to fashion himself as a restaurateur, real-estate investor and commercial developer. Instead, he scammed contractors and developers, pocketing large sums of money intended for project construction and walking away from contracts.

Capri has also been linked to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill, another failed country restaurant venture. Capri's companies built 20 of Keith's restaurants, and had announced that 20 more were in the works. However, by 2015, the chain had all but folded, dogged by financial problems that stemmed from unpaid taxes. Lawsuits and allegations were leveled against Capri following the closure.

In 2017, Capri spoke out against these allegations, claiming no wrongdoing in the business plans for Keith's restaurants and citing the closure as nothing "other than the product of a business failure."

While Capri's name never appeared on any documents associated with Rascal Flatts' restaurants, the Republic reports that he oversaw key aspects of the venture, using his girlfriend and her business associate as a front while controlling major business decisions from behind the scenes. The country trio's involvement in the restaurants was minimal: They licensed their name, image and logo but were not involved in the construction of or plans for the chain, nor did they have any ownership stake.

"The use of the Rascal Flatts name in association with restaurants owned by RF IP, LLC or Frank Capri is no longer authorized," a representative for the Flatts says.

The news that Rascal Flatts will not be opening restaurants after all may come as a disappointment to some fans, but listeners will still have ample opportunities to see the group on tour. The country trio recently announced their 2019 Summer Playlist Tour, which will feature Lee Brice, LoCash and many more.

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