If you decide to copy another restaurant, you may be sued
A restaurant owner is suing another, because he allegedly copied her restaurant. From The NY Times,
The suit, which seeks unspecified financial damages from Mr. McFarland and the restaurant itself, charges that Ed’s Lobster Bar copies “each and every element” of Pearl Oyster Bar, including the white marble bar, the gray paint on the wainscoting, the chairs and bar stools with their wheat-straw backs, the packets of oyster crackers placed at each table setting and the dressing on the Caesar salad.
Interestingly enough, I just had some friends from Salem told me that Vault Martini bar had their menu copied by a bar down there, right down to the paper it was printed on. I can understand the people at Vault being upset as well as the owner of Pearl Oyster Bar.
But the detail that seems to gnaw at her most is a $7 appetizer on Mr. McFarland’s menu: “Ed’s Caesar.”
She has never eaten it, but she and her lawyers claim it is made from her own Caesar salad recipe, which calls for a coddled egg and English muffin croutons.
She learned it from her mother, who extracted it decades ago from the chef at a long-gone Los Angeles restaurant. It became a kind of signature at Pearl. And although she taught Mr. McFarland how to make it, she said she had guarded the recipe more closely than some restaurateurs watch their wine cellars.
“When I taught him, I said, ‘You will never make this anywhere else,’ ” she insisted. According to lawyers for Ms. Charles, the Caesar salad recipe is a trade secret and Mr. McFarland had no more business taking it with him after he left than a Coca-Cola employee entrusted with the formula for Diet Coke.
Mr. McFarland called the allegation that he was a Caesar salad thief “a pretty ridiculous claim.”
First of all, “coddled egg and English muffin croutons” on a Caesar salad? Ack! Who the heck would copy that! But I digress. It sounds to me like Pearl Oyster Bar has a pretty good case. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.