What’s in a name? Potentially, a livelihood and one’s entire career. Those are the high stakes realized by several chef-operators, who have recently taken their fight to reclaim ownership of their names into the courtroom. Read on for a look at a few of those battles.
1. Shaya vs. Besh
Former business partners Alon Shaya and John Besh sparred in court late last year when Shaya filed a trademark request over his namesake restaurant, Shaya, and Besh’s company filed a countersuit. A judge denied Shaya’s request to remove his last name from Besh’s restaurant. Earlier this month, the two restaurateurs reached an undisclosed settlement that allows Besh’s BRG Hospitality to continue operating a modern Israeli restaurant called Shaya. Chef Shaya is no longer affiliated with any Besh enterprise. Instead, he’s working on an Israeli restaurant, Saba, which is slated to open later this spring about a mile from Shaya.
2. Chloe vs. By Chloe
Chloe Coscarelli, the estranged co-founder of the By Chloe vegan fast casual, filed a 129-page complaint against the company’s current owners—BC Hospitality and ESquared Hospitality—for trademark infringement and other alleged violations. Coscarelli claims that the chain’s food quality has declined since she was ousted from By Chloe by an arbitrator last year, and that the decreased quality is harming her reputation. Through her attorney, Coscarelli declined to comment on the suit. Jimmy Haber, ESquared Hospitality CEO, said in a statement: “(Coscarelli) continues her malicious efforts to undermine the company and hurt its loyal employees. We are disappointed by these public accusations from a disgruntled former partner, but we will not lose sight of our bigger mission.”
3. Cat Cora vs. Fatbird
Last October, Food Network chef Cat Cora sued the operator of Fatbird in New York City, saying the owner broke an agreement to pay for use of her name and recipes. Cora also claimed that the restaurant’s poor quality and bad reviews were negatively affecting her reputation. Fatbird closed in December, just seven months after it opened.
4. The Chef With No Name
Dallas chef Kent Rathbun quit his executive chef job at Abacus and Jasper’s restaurants in 2016 after conflicts with his business partner, Bill Hyde Jr. Hyde then sued Rathbun over an agreement the chef had signed years before, in which he gave up the rights to his name, image and likeness to Jasper’s parent company H2R Restaurant Concepts. Unable to use his own name, Rathbun started calling himself “Chef With No Name.” But a judge’s temporary restraining order last year blocked him from using even that moniker.