It seems that these days chef and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio doesn't even need to threaten small business owners with legal action in order to get them to drop the name Craft from their restaurants. The Riverfront Times reports that St. Louis restaurant owner Tatyana Telnikova decided to change the name of her upcoming Craft Art Bar to Art Bar because she was worried about Colicchio's history of rigorously enforcing his "incontestable trademark on the word craft as it relates to restaurants." When asked for comment, Colicchio told the Riverfront Times that her decision "wise."
Colicchio certainly has a track record of forcing small businesses to change their names. Back in 2012 Colicchio forced a Middleton, Wisconsin craft beer bar formerly known as Craft Table & Tap to change its name to Craftsman Table & Tap. That same year Colicchio also sent a cease-and-desist letter to a San Francisco restaurant that was in process of opening with the name Crafthouse, effectively forcing them to change the name to Caskhouse.
In the case of Art Bar, Telnikova didn't want to wait for the seemingly inevitable cease-and-desist. She says: "Ultimately it's my money, my business, my risk. I just thought that I'm really, really, really busy with work all the time, in six months I'll have to re-brand the whole thing and deal with some big bad lawyers breathing down my neck all the way from New York."
Colicchio implies that she made the right decision. He told the Riverfront Times: "We've spent a lot of time and a lot of resources building our brand and, you know,we feel we have an obligation to protect that brand ... I'm not going to be presumptuous and think that she knows I own a restaurant called Craft, but a simple Google search will show you." Colicchio explains the importance of trademark protection by example saying "I can't tell you how many complaints I've got from people saying, 'I've been to your restaurant in China and it's terrible, and I'll never come to your restaurants in New York.'" Apparently there are also restaurants in San Diego and Breckenridge, Colorado that he "may have to look at."
· Tom Colicchio On Tatyana Telnikova's Decision to Change Craft Art Bar Name: "Wise" [RFT]
· All Tom Colicchio Coverage on Eater [-E-]