The owners of Joe's Pizza, one of the city's quintessential and best known pizzerias, has successfully stopped a former employee from operating a rival shop under the name Little Joe's Pizza. According to Joe's Pizza owner Joe Pozzuoli, Jr. he sent several cease and desist letters to Little Joe's, but all were ignored. "To protect our brand and to limit confusion, we took legal action," Pozzuoli tells Eater, "and the court granted us a preliminary injunction" against Little Joe's. The latter is banned from using the word Joe in "any manner" as it relates to operating a pizzeria, under the threat of having to pony up a $5,000 security bond, in addition to any settlement.
Little Joe's / Little Gio's
Late last November the husband and wife team of Natalia and Sergio Ramirez opened up their pizzeria using the Little Joe's name on First Avenue in the East Village. Sergio Ramirez worked at Joe's Pizza for 13 years, although Pozzuoli claims he was a "delivery boy, never a pizza man." Nevertheless, he is now making the pizza on First Avenue, and while his wife claimed that she was the sole owner and he only an employee, he is also named in the suit.
As of today, the couple have scrubbed the pizzeria's website, Seamless, and social media presence of Little Joe's branding, changing the name to Little Gio's, as mandated by the order. They have also obscured the name with tape on the sign above the shop, although (as the image above shows) the awning still bears the Little Joe's name. Whether that will be enough to placate Pozzuoli, and more importantly the court, remains to be seen.