Alas, Blue Canoe Brewing, the nanobrewery in east Little Rock with the taproom, is no more. A founder’s lawsuit gives some hints into the troubles that doomed the five-year-old dream that began on Kickstarter.
Dr. Iden Cowan, a pain medicine specialist at Pain Treatment Centers of America in North Little Rock, sued her Blue Canoe co-founders, ex-husband Patrick Cowan and Laura Berryhill, back in April 2018. Also named in the suit are Ben Davis Properties Management of Little Rock and two people the suit describes as its members or agents, Ben Davis and Ronny Davis.
Iden Cowan, filing on behalf of herself and Blue Canoe Holdings LLC, alleges that Patrick Cowan, Berryhill and Ben Davis Properties Management formed a competing business entity, LBPC Holdings LLC. Iden Cowan says that Patrick Cowan and Berryhill, behind her back, then began operating and expanding the brewery, at 1637 E. 15th St., under LBPC, using money, property, equipment, customers, vendors and locations belonging to Blue Canoe Holdings.
At that point, Iden Cowan says, Ben and Ronny Davis and Ben Davis Properties Management asked if they could purchase her interest in the brewery, but she declined.
“Thereafter, with conspiratorial intent to defraud Plaintiffs for their own personal financial gain, the BDPM Defendants injected capital into the Brewery’s operations and began managing the Brewery’s day-to-day functions alongside the [Blue Canoe Holdings] Defendants.” This action, according to the suit, “effectively cut Plaintiffs out of the Brewery.”
Iden Cowan, who said she held majority interest in Blue Canoe, alleges that Patrick Cowan and Berryhill obtained or converted more than $100,000 from her and Blue Canoe Holdings.
The defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, have split into two camps. In one are Patrick Cowan, Berryhill and LBPC Holdings. In the other are Ben Davis, Ronny Davis and Ben Davis Properties Management.
The groups, in their answers, deny Iden Cowan’s allegations regarding fraud and theft. However, Ben Davis acknowledges asking whether Iden Cowan would sell her shares in Blue Canoe, and he acknowledges lending LBPC $150,000 to buy brewing and other equipment.
In their answer, Patrick Cowan and Berryhill say Iden Cowan “bargained away” her rights to majority interest in Blue Canoe in the Cowans’ divorce.
The lawyer for the Davis interests, David Grace of Hardin & Grace in North Little Rock, declined comment on the lawsuit. A message left with Patrick Cowan wasn’t returned as of press time, and Berryhill also declined comment. She confirmed, however, that Blue Canoe had closed for good on March 16.