Yesterday, I called Peter Zwiener about the Wolfgang vs.Wolfgang lawsuit. (Peter is the son of Wolfgang Zwiener of Wolfgang’s-Steakhouse-by-Wolfgang-Zweiner-who’s-not-the-Wolfgang-you’re-probably-thinking-about.) The younger Zwiener said he was surprised by the suit and, judging by the press release that he sent late Wednesday afternoon, I believe him.
The first three grafs basically sum up Puck’s position, which is a weird strategy (although Zwiener does add the interesting tidbit that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently approved the trademark Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener and Puck apparently waived his right to oppose the trademark).
Then there’s the boilerplate yadda from Zwiener’s lawyer ("we will prevail"), followed by the more subjective defense of "uh-UH!" (Puck’s places look contemporary, Zwiener’s traditional; signs outside "prominently" feature Zwiener’s name) and these quotes from Peter Z:
“My father has been universally known in the steakhouse business as Wolfgang for decades, long before Mr. Puck entered the restaurant business.” “Our steakhouses have an excellent worldwide reputation for serving quality steak.”
Construction aside (Bumping quotes! Bad form!), the reputation quote reads weirdly — what, Puck doesn’t have that rep? Zwiener has its own reputation and we don’t need your stupid name? A sales pitch?
My money’s on that last theory, since the next three grafs are pure press kit: "star-studded," "highest-quality," "award-winning," "custom-designed," "suede-wrapped"… sorry, stopping there. It’s too early for that many hyphens.
If you’re made of stronger stuff, the full release is after the jump.
Wolfgang Puck has filed a lawsuit against Wolfgang Zwiener, the former long-time veteran head waiter at famed Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn and owner of highly-acclaimed steakhouses in New York and a new steakhouse in Beverly Hills, California.
Puck’s lawsuit seeks to stop Wolfgang Zwiener from using the name “Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener” in connection with Mr. Zwiener’s recently opened steak house in Beverly Hills. Puck alleges in the lawsuit that Zwiener is violating Puck’s trademark and a 2007 agreement between Puck and Zwiener.
In 2007, Mr. Puck and Mr. Zwiener entered into a mutual agreement. Since then, Mr. Zwiener has continued to call his highly-acclaimed steakhouses in New York Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. In accordance with the agreement, Mr. Zwiener has chosen to name his steakhouses outside New York Wolfgang’s Steakhouse By Wolfgang Zwiener. Mr. Zwiener’s trademark, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, was recently approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Mr. Puck waived his right to oppose the trademark.
Joel Schmidt, a partner at Cowan, Liebowitz and Latman, represents Wolfgang Zwiener. Mr. Schmidt has stated: “Mr. Zwiener has acted in total compliance with the 2007 agreement, and we are confident that the courts will agree.”
Aside from the fact that the two restaurateurs share the same first name, Mr. Zwiener’s steakhouses are very different from Mr. Puck’s restaurants. The restaurants look nothing alike. Mr. Puck’s SPAGO restaurant and CUT steakhouse in Beverly Hills have a contemporary look; Mr. Zwiener’s Wolfgang’s Steakhouse By Wolfgang Zwiener steakhouse is a traditional, old-fashioned New York steakhouse. The signs outside Mr. Zwiener’s steakhouse prominently contain Mr. Zwiener’s full name “Wolfgang Zwiener.”
Peter Zwiener, Wolfgang Zwiener’s son, and one of the co-owners of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse By Wolfgang Zwiener in Beverly Hills stated “My father has been universally known in the steakhouse business as Wolfgang for decades, long before Mr. Puck entered the restaurant business.” “Our steakhouses have an excellent worldwide reputation for serving quality steak.”
Restaurateur Wolfgang Zwiener developed a national reputation in the steakhouse business through his highly-acclaimed Wolfgang’s Steakhouse restaurants in New York and more than 40 years of service as the former head waiter at world famous Peter Luger Steakhouse. Wolfgang Zwiener was identified as a “fixture at Luger’s for decades” in a 1991 New York Newsday article and as one of New York’s hospitality “superstars” in a 2001 New York Times article, which also highlighted Wolfgang Zwiener’s “lifelong dedication to the art of food service.”
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener in Beverly Hills opened on May 1, 2008 to a star-studded audience. It features the highest quality steaks and is an old-fashioned New York-style steakhouse. The dining experience at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener is enhanced by Wolfgang Zwiener’s award winning wine collection of over 250 different labels. With a tribute to the original Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in New York, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener in Beverly Hills features an elaborately designed arched ceiling, enhanced by custom-designed mosaic tiles created and installed by artist David Inbal from Israel. In addition to the intricate ceiling design, the steakhouse includes a 26 ft long mahogany bar with metal inlay, wenge wood wainscoting to add old world charm and warmth and American walnut wood flooring throughout, suede wrapped wall panels, alabaster chandeliers, antique bronzed accents and a 1000-bottle wine display. All of these elements come together to infuse diners with the feel of a traditional steakhouse.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener in Beverly Hills is a joint venture of W Steak Corp. and WDI International. W Steak Corp.’s affiliates currently operate Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in New York, which has two locations at 4 Park Ave and 409 Greenwich Street (Tribeca). WDI operates over 200 restaurants around the globe including fine dining concepts such as Il Mulino Tokyo, Grand Central Station Oyster Bar and Restaurant and Taormina in Waikiki Beach. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener will open two additional steakhouses in Waikiki Beach and South Beach, FL. For reservations or information, call 310.385.0640. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener is located at 445 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Please visit the website at www.wolfgangssteakhouse.com for more information about the New York Steakhouses.