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Feb 14, 201207:13 AMTable Talk

Under court order, Bethesda’s Red Tomato Pizzeria changes its name

Feb 14, 2012 - 07:13 AM
Under court order, Bethesda’s Red Tomato Pizzeria changes its name

Former Red Tomato Pizzeria has taken down signs with the old name and will now be called Bel Piatto Pizza.

Bethesda’s Red Tomato Pizzeria at 7812 Old Georgetown Road has changed its name—under court order. It’s now called Bel Piatto Pizza.

The pizzeria, which opened last spring, has no connection to the nearby Red Tomato Café, a fixture on 4910 St. Elmo Avenue for 17 years.

In my June 22 blog, I wrote about how that concerned owner Fay Namin, whose attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owners of Red Tomato Pizzeria demanding that they stop using the name.

Namin said that many diners were confused. “My customers were calling the other pizzeria to order pizza, thinking it was my sister location,” she said.

Failing to get an adequate response from the letter, Namin’s attorney said that Red Tomato Café “had no choice but to file a lawsuit” against Red Tomato Pizzeria. The shop is owned by a group of partners who also own a pizzeria in McLean, Va. with the same name.

One of the owners, Hamid Jadali, who also owns four restaurants in Baltimore, said he was not aware of the existence of the Red Tomato Café when the partners bought the former Brooklyn’s Pizzeria. Jadali said the purchase of the Old Georgetown Road property happened quickly.

However, Jadali said if the requests had been nicer, “I would have changed [the name] in a heartbeat.” But he said the approach “pissed” him off.

Jadali’s attorney also said that the name Red Tomato Café is not officially registered with Montgomery County.

Namin’s attorney countered that the formal name of an entity is of no consequence, that what matters is how a consumer identifies it as a brand. For example, the National Passenger Railroad Corporation does business under the name Amtrak, he said.

When the parties failed to resolve their dispute, Red Tomato Café obtained a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the other pizzeria.

Late last month, the District Court of the District of Maryland enjoined the Red Tomato Pizzeria from using “Red Tomato,” ordering the restaurant to remove the name on any exterior and interior signage, menus and other written materials.

But that court order only applies to the Bethesda location. Namin’s attorney said the lawsuit is pending and “currently the parties are still in negotiations as to how they wish to resolve the matter as a whole.”

Feb 14, 2012 08:11 am
 Posted by  russresearcher

Wow- while Red Tomato Cafe should have definitely registered their name with the county, the defendant sure didn't know the neighborhood he was going to do business in if he wasn't aware of Red Tomato Cafe which is, what, 2 blocks away?....C'mon. So glad they were forced to change their name!

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Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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