As the team from Union Square’s Coffee Shop gets ready to open up their new concept in the old Empire Diner space, a legal battle is being waged by the landlord and the old tenants over rights to the restaurant’s iconic name. The Daily News reports that before losing their lease in May, Mitchell Woo and Renate Gonzalez, the former operators in the space, filed a trademark suit for the Empire Diner name and that landlord Charles Levinson then filed a countersuit for the rights and all its branding and franchise potential. After months of deliberation, the case is finally going to trial soon with Levison’s lawyers noting "We're expecting to open it as the Empire Diner."
Which is weird because ever since Flo Fab's first fall tracking report way back in August, the new project has never once been referred to as "The Empire Diner" but always as "The Highliner." Even today the Coffee Shop crew — who are in no way involved in the lawsuits — say that the project will be called “The Highliner Diner.” So, should Levinson win the suit, will he coax them to change their name? Or will he just let it lie and take the brand somewhere else? Who knows. But for now, the Coffee Shop people say they're going to open "in the next six weeks or so."
· Feud over Empire Diner in Chelsea Heats Up [NYDN]
· All Highliner Coverage [~ENY~]
· All Empire Diner Coverage [~ENY~]