Is one precious vowel enough to distinguish one restaurant from another, and thus avoid a lawsuit? Jehangir Mehta thinks not.
The New York Post reports that Mehta, the chef-owner of Graffiti Bistro & Bakery (as well as the recently opened Mehtaphor), is suing Jesús Nuñez, the graffiti artist turned chef at Graffit, for trademark infringement. Mehta, who opened Graffiti on East 10th Street in 2007, claims that Nuñez, who opened Graffit on West 69th Street late last year, is stealing his restaurant’s name and concept and hurting his business.
One of Mehta’s biggest bones of contention is Nuñez’s — alleged! — use of Pop Rocks in his food. Mehta, of course, has been using the candy for years, and contends that he recently learned from this interview that Nuñez planned to “utilize this extremely obscure ingredient in a dish to be served at Graffit.”
While Graffit’s rep told Eater that the idea that Nuñez had or was planning to use Pop Rocks was “totally false,” the chef did use the interview in question to expound upon his love of the candy:
One of the more fun ingredients that I use are pop rocks — I love combining them with olive oil. Pop rocks really bring out all of the flavor notes of a high-quality extra virgin olive oil and make them explode in your mouth.
Regardless, all of this begs some questions. One, can a Spanish restaurant located almost 50 blocks northwest of a so-called eclectic establishment serving zucchini hummus pizza and cumin eggplant buns really qualify as a direct competitor, precious “i” notwithstanding?
And Pop Rocks? Really? The candy was being touted as a pastry trend back in 2005; just last fall, Johnny Iuzzini was seen using them in a chocolate-beet cake with raspberries and chocolate buttercream. Hell, they’ve even heard of them in Boston.
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