If the following story sounds like it's ripped straight from the Onion, it's because it's absurd enough to belong there. Just weeks after high end Chinese restaurant chain Mr Chow accused the owner of competitor chain Philippe of stealing recipes and intentionally confusing customers—it all came to a head when they opened across the street from each other in Miami— The Brooklyn Paper and Grub Street pick up a similar story...about two Brooklyn banh mi joints. Now with the banh mi explosion of the last year there was sure to be a flare up eventually. It's just funny that it's getting to a Ed Lobster Bar vs. Pearl Oyster Bar level of seriousness. Let's break it down.
Hanco's opened in February on Bergen Street near Smith. After a few months of working there, employee Henry Huynh left under "less-than-ideal circumstances" along with two co-workers (one was his mother). Five days ago, they opened Henry's just four blocks away with the same offerings, a hilariously similar menu and typeface, and (here's the big piece of proof) bubble tea. Hanco's owner Tang Hanco is accusing Huynh of both stealing recipes and design and sabotaging him by making bad sandwiches while he was still under his employ.
But there's a twist! BP reminds everyone that Hanco was himself accused of stealing tricks from the seminal banh mi shop Nicky's on Atlantic Avenue. Everyone's hands are dirty here, people!
And for his part, Huynh denies all the allegations: "Just because the menu is the same doesn’t mean the recipe is the same. We have more bubble tea, we added some stuff — smoothies, sandwiches. That doesn’t mean we have the same recipe.”
In the end, whether there's foul play or not—it looks like there is—there's really not much to be done except complaining to the blogs, as a lawsuit would be an expensive misplay for both sides.
· It’s war as two Vietnamese sandwich shops do battle four blocks apart [BP]
· Bánh Mì Beef: Hanco’s Accuses Henry’s of Foul Play [GS]