John Besh’s restaurant group will continue to be able to use New Orleans chef Alon Shaya’s name, at least for now.
On Wednesday, a judge denied Alon Shaya’s request for a temporary injunction that would put an immediate stop to John Besh’s restaurant group, BRG Hospitality, using his surname while the battle over the name winds its way through the courts.
U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle gave a couple of reasons for the decision, according to the Advocate. For one, he said that changing the name would require the restaurant to close for up to a year as a new concept is developed by BRG, which would financially hurt the Shaya restaurant employees. Of course, it would also impede what is likely a decent revenue stream for BRG Hospitality, as Shaya is currently its most lauded restaurant.
Lemelle also said that he wasn’t sure that Alon Shaya would succeed in a court battle over the name, which would be over a year away if the case goes to trial. This was the standard Alon Shaya needed to meet to win this portion of the battle.
Still, the judge pointed out flaws in both Alon Shaya and Besh’s arguments. He pointed to a message Besh left for Alon Shaya, saying that he didn’t want Alon Shaya’s restaurant or the “fame that comes with it.”
The judge also questioned Shaya’s argument that his surname was being sullied by its continued association with the embattled Besh group, saying that the damage was already done and that it would not be increased as the name was still in play by Besh’s restaurant group.
According to the Advocate story, the judge asked whether Alon Shaya knew about the sexual misconduct as it was going on. His lawyers denied that he was involved in any wrong-doing or that he knew of wrong-doing. Sarcastic “snickers” came from the Besh side of the room.
Depending on the terms of the Shaya/Besh contract, it could be possible that, should Alon Shaya lose the battle over the Shaya name, he could still use “Alon Shaya” in his new restaurant’s name, which will be located in New Orleans.
A similar case emerged between the previous owners of Brennan’s restaurant and Dickie Brennan in the early aughts. A judge ruled that Dickie Brennan could still use his first and last name together in his restaurant names, hence Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, etc., even though the Brennan’s trademark was owned by the Brennan’s folks.
It’s not clear that the case will ever make it to trial. BRG said in court that it’s still open to settling out of court. Shaya said afterward, according to the Advocate, that he’d talk with his attorneys about what to do next.