A trademark legal dispute deemed “the great Texas red sauce war” between two similarly named restaurants has come to an abrupt and surprising conclusion.
The complicated and confusing legal dispute erupted in June when Julian Barsotti, the owner of the Dallas-based restaurant Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine LLC levied a trademark lawsuit against Jeff Zalaznick’s Major Food Group (MFG), the New York-based parent company of Italian-American newcomer restaurant Carbone LLC.
“By using a nearly identical mark (Carbone’s v Carbone) in association with the same goods and services (Italian restaurants and pre-packaged foods), consumers are and will be confused, misled, or deceived as to the source of the goods and services,” Carbone’s lawsuit claimed.
After months of negotiations between attorneys, Barsotti agreed to close his decade-old Oak Lawn-based Italian restaurant on January 1, 2023, following an out-of-court mediation session that began in August and saw negotiations between the attorneys continuing into November.
A motion for dismissal was signed in the Northern District of Texas on November 18.
“I’m not afraid of my customers going anywhere,” Barsotti told The Dallas Morning News. “I was willing to compromise.”
Although the terms of the deal were undisclosed, Barsotti said the restaurant would probably close down for 90 days and reopen under a new name.
“New York Carbone is assisting Julian in opening his new, elevated family Italian concept,” said Matthew Yarbrough, Barsotti’s attorney and chair of intellectual property at Michelman & Robinson.
Despite the dispute, Barsotti and Zalaznick said they developed a solid friendship since the legal battle ended, explaining that it was easy to work out a deal once they sat in a room together.
“It was an unfortunate situation that I think ended in a good friendship. We’re excited to be in Dallas,” said Zalaznick. “We have a lot of respect for Julian, and I think it’s rare to have such a positive outcome for both sides.”
As reported by The Dallas Express, the problems between the two owners arose after several name-based mix-ups that resulted in incorrect locations for delivery drivers, mismatched reviews on Yelp and Google, and a mistaken branding placement by Central Market.
Barsotti was worried about the legal costs of taking on a company that operates more than two dozen restaurants globally that cater to A-list celebrities. “You’re going to end up spending more money to keep your name than you’d get in a settlement,” Yarbrough said. “It would have been a lot of money to be right.”
Carbone’s customers will have until January to visit the legacy Oak Lawn location before Barsotti renovates the Italian restaurant into its new 2.0 version. Barsotti’s plans for the restaurant’s redesign feature a 14-seat bar, upgraded menu items, and of course, a brand-new name.
“This place has its own spirit,” Barsotti said of Carbone’s. “What we change it to will evoke what it has always been.”