Sunday, October 14, 2007

Morton's v. Morton's and Other Tidbits

I run into a lot of people who are confused about why foodies, reviewers, dining editors, and reporters don't always have hard opening dates, chef info, and restaurant confirmations. In this wonderful world of soft news and blogs, here's how it works in a nutshell, at least right now: Cory over at Property Lines often hears about restaurants early. He talks to developers and reports on real estate sales, leases, and companies looking for franchisees. Often, he will blog a project when a lease has been signed, a letter of intent has been drafted, or permits are granted. However, we all know a lot can happen between development and opening when it comes to restaurants. Christy and Julia over at Indianapolis Monthly, reporters at the Star and Intake, and even Nuvo follow up directly with the restaurant or their corporate parents for their respective newsletters and publications. As you can imagine, most corporate offices are tight lipped about future plans until ground is broken and they've scheduled an opening date. Which is why Cory seems to have such a scoop -- and sometimes deals fall through. What do I do? Keep my ear to the ground and offer a hearty dose of my own opinion and a round up of what is interesting to me. Luckily, some of you find it interesting, too, (for a variety of reasons, I'm sure.)

Morton's Sues Morton's Pub: I know some people see this sort of thing as "big corporation keeping the man down" but if you know anything about trademark law, you know your mark is only as strong as your ability and willingness to defend it. And this week, Morton's (the steakhouse) sent a letter to Ty Morton of Muncie who just opened a place called, (wait for it) "Morton's Pub and Grub". As I see it, Morton's (the steakhouse) has a case, and if I was in the corporate office, I would have been the first one calling the legal department to get a letter out, mom-and-pop shop or not. Morton's (the steakhouse) has to defend their trademark. It's their brand. Do they have a restaurant in Muncie? No, of course, not, but they do have one in Indy, a lot of Muncie people have been there, and they're based in Chicago. If the Ruth's Chris expansion is successful in the S. Bend area, don't think they won't consider it, too. (A new market for expansion -- high end steakhouse nirvana!) So, fair? No, probably not. But come on, this is business 101. Whether it's your own name or not, naming your place after a nationally branded steakhouse and not talking to your lawyer about it? Probably not a smart idea. From AP (via the Indy Star)

El Sol, Partners Fighting, Partners Not Fighting, Whatever: So, let me see if I get this right (or even close): El Sol owner number 1 (founder) and partner (let's call him owner 2, Chicago boxing promoter) go bankrupt after opening a downtown location. Owner 3 buys the building while former-owner 2 strips out all the equipment after the sale. Owner 3 sues, but then renegotiates for all the stuff back while making owner 2 a partner again? They've also brought in another partner -- we'll call him owner 4 -- to help run the place. Owner 4 allso co-owns the local Cancun restaurants. Owners are slating a re-opening of the East Washington location for November. Not sure where they are on the originally planned massive renovations and complete menu overhaul, making it more upscale. (From the Star -- thanks (scubachef) for the pointer.)

Openings, Schmopenings: More vapor, or at least, these days, we're working from a wait-and-see-approach: Bugg's, still saying next weekend for all three restaurants -- Tavern at the Temple (one assumes, a pub), Bugg's Grille (one assumes this is the fine-dining restaurant we've been promised), and Cornerstone Coffee (what may end up being the most successful of the three.) No word on the Ritter's Frozen Custard we were looking forward to most. Meridian, reports are they'll soft launch at the end of the month. No hard dates for openings on any of the newly reported chains coming in downtown -- Adobo or Fogo de Chao. Frequent poster (corrnd), tell us he's seen a liquor license posted at the old Peyton's Place on Indiana and West St. No reports on the sale and new bar opening.


scubachef said...

The Argentinian restaurant called Taste of Tango (36E. Washington Street downtown) seems to be coming along, with a new facade and door in place and bustling inside.

CorrND said...

Thanks for the link braingirl!

For what it's worth, as part of my research for a future restaurant post, I noticed that Adobo Grill appears on the restaurant list as:

Adobo Grill (Winter 2008)

Anonymous said...

I received an email inviting me to be a guinea pig at Buggs's training night this coming Wednesday (the 17th). I volunteered and got a form email back last Wednesday saying "As we are working to complete our reservation lists for these VIP events, a final confirmation of what reservations are available (time and amount of people) will be emailed asap."

I wonder if there won't be an actual Ritters outpost but instead they'll just serve it at their restaurant?

Anonymous said...

It would be funny and fitting if Morton's (the salt brand) sued Morton's steakhouse.