Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Feliz restaurateurs sue over name

A rival taco shop in Ambler carries the name.

Feliz restaurateurs sue over name

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Owners Brian Sirhal (left) and chef Tim Spinner of Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Owners Brian Sirhal (left) and chef Tim Spinner of Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)

Somebody's not too feliz.

Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal - who own Cantina Feliz and La Calaca Feliz and have a third, Taqueria Feliz, on the way - have gone to court seeking to block a restaurateur from opening Taco Feliz in Ambler.

The Ambler shop - expected to open in June - would be less than two miles from Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington.

The Ambler owner - identifed in the federal court filing as Rene Hernandez Zepeda - told me last week that he did not know of Cantina Feliz's existence and defended his use of "Feliz," saying it's a common restaurant name in his native Mexico.

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It means happy.

"The likelihood of confusion is unmistakable," the suit reads. "By marketing a Mexican restaurant using the Taco Feliz designation in the same market as the Feliz Restaurants, consumers are likely to purchase meals at Taco Feliz believing it to be one of the acclaimed Feliz Restaurants." The suit calls Hernandez's move "knowing, intentional and egregious."

Hernandez, who also owns La Villa Mexican Grill in Skippack, did not return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Sirhal, in a phone conversation, said a letter to Hernandez went unanswered.

Read the suit here.

The case, incidentally, has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez.

Update: On May 16, Judge Sanchez ordered a hearing on May 30 but barred the new restaurant from opening in the meantime with the "Feliz" name.

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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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