Celebrity Cafe Sues Southlake's Silver Spoon Bakery For Being Blatant, Excessively Pink Knockoff

Celebrity.jpg
In June, Bill and Barbara Harris opened Silver Spoon Bakery and Cafe in Southlake.

"I'm 81 years old, my wife's 78," Harris said. "We're not dead yet, and we're just trying to stay active."

Silver Spoon is a lunch spot whose every detail, from the cutesy, pink-striped walls to the salad-heavy menu, is meant to appeal to the type of woman who looks back fondly to times when well-heeled ladies would gather each afternoon for tea.

The problem is that almost every one of those details, down to the framed pictures on the wall, the pink awning out front, even the presentation of its turkey salad, are eerily similar to those found in Celebrity Cafe & Bakery. Pretty much identical, in fact.

The owners of Dallas-based Celebrity are not amused and filed a federal lawsuit on Friday claiming that Silver Spoon is a "purposeful knock-off of the Celebrity Cafe & Bakery concept and trade dress," an attempt cash in on the restaurant's popularity as a purveyor of "traditional Texas ladies' luncheon fare."

The twist is that the Harrises were the ones who established Celebrity Cafe in 1989 and ran it for the better part of two decades. It wasn't until late 2006 that they sold the company to Investar, an Irving-based private equity and venture capital firm invested heavily in Hispanic-oriented businesses. The contract included a three-year noncompete clause that expired in January 2010.

With the noncompete clause behind them, the couple set to work establishing the restaurant in Southlake, basing it off the concept they had established more than 20 years before. They thought that was okay. Investar did not, asserting that the sale of the restaurant included not just the name and physical restaurants, but also the decor, the uniforms, and the menu. It says so right in the asset purchase agreement, the suit claims which stated that the purchase included "distinctive exterior and interior design, decor, color scheme and trade dress; all service marks trademarks, trade names, logos, and other symbols or marks used to promote the System; and all recipes, including special recipes, menu items and menus."

"They're full of bull," Harris said. "What they've done they lost a whole lot of money and changed the entire concept."

And now Investar, which used to be based in Mexico, has lowered itself to picking on an octogenarian couple trying to make an honest living in Southlake, Harris says.

"They're trying to put two little old white people-- gringos-- out of business."


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14 comments
brandon_tx
brandon_tx

Absolutely love Bill and Barbara Harris!  Good-hearted hard-working people! Didn't they have the opportunity to buy Celebrity back but Investar had ran it into the ground and changed the whole winning concept? I've been meaning to visit Silver Spoon but haven't had the chance.  They must be rockin it out in Southlake! :))

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Silver Spoon appears to be a "Bakery and Cafe" whilst Celebrity describes itself as a "Cafe and Bakery".

 

I'm not sure how someone could confuse two things that are so obviously differentiated.

ItsSoSad
ItsSoSad

Damn old white people. They're supposed to quit working and act like the "non-whites" taking over the country. Guess they didn't get Eric's earlier articles.

 

Guilty by whiteness!

 

Long live the libtard's! At least as long as someone else is paying the tax bill.

Mervis
Mervis

Sounds like Two Pesos vs. Taco Cabana fight from the early 90's, on a smaller scale. Who won that fight?

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

old white people claim 'We Built It' sound likes a Schutze story.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

non-compete expired, and it's ridiculous for Investar to think they can trademark the color pink.

 

my prediction is this lawsuit will be thrown out.

Guest
Guest

My sympathies are with the Harrises if their attorneys didn't explain the asset purchase agreement, but the quoted language is pretty clear that the Harrises sold the entire Clebrity Cafe "concept" they created to Investar.  Having sold it, they can't then try and cash in on the same concept any more than a perfect stranger could come in and do the same thing.  I'm sure if someone created a knockoff Celebrity Cafe in 2005, before they sold out, they would have been furious.

 

This assumes that the facts described above are accurate, namely that the new restaurant is "[p]retty much identical." I suppose they might argue that Southlake is too far from Dallas to be an issue, but that probably doesn't fly given the significant cross-over clientele.  My guess is that this settles quickly with large scale changes being made to Silver Spoon Bakery's trade dress, etc. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Guest not sure decor is trademarkable.  It doesn't really make sense to say that you can patent a concept.  In competitive markets, they're SOL.

Mervis
Mervis

@Guest There is a Celebrity Cafe in Colleyville, not too far from that Southlake location.

Guest
Guest

 @scottindallas  @Guest Scott, There is legal protection of "trade dress" that protects blatant imitation of things like signage, color schemes, building appearance, etc.  It's what keeps "McDowells" hamburgers from actually Coming to America.        

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

 @scottindallas  @Mervis Only half right it turns out.  The San Antonio family did divorce and divide the Taco Cabanas.  Two Pesos was started by a Houston promoter who tried to get the Taco Cabana family to expand nationally.  They decined the offer and the promoter went ahead and started opening Two Pesos restaurants on his own.  Taco Cabana successfully sued Two Pesos.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taco_Cabana#Two_Pesos.2C_Inc._vs._Taco_Cabana.2C_Inc..2C_505_U.S._763_.281992.29

 

Incidentally, the original Taco cabana on Hildebrand in San Antonio was awesome before the expansion.  It was a real taqueria.  Nothing like it is now.

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