Groucho’s sues Grouchy’s over similar deli name

A South Carolina deli chain is taking family-owned and operated Grouchy’s NY Deli & Bagels to federal court, claiming the Alpharetta-based restaurant is infringing on its name.

Groucho’s Deli, based in Columbia, S.C. and founded in 1941, has nearly 30 locations in the Southeast, including two in Georgia, in Athens and Statesboro.

Grouchy’s, founded in 2000, also has two locations in Georgia, in Alpharetta and Norcross.

“We have no intention of changing our name,” Grouchy’s founder Bruce Cohn said Tuesday. He said his company’s trademark has been filed according to law and the 15-year-old company’s logo and restaurant concept are different from Groucho’s.

Grouchy’s describes itself as an upscale deli with an urban design, healthy food and portions reminiscent of Cohn’s days in New York.

Groucho’s Franchise System LLC, which filed the trademark suit this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, is seeking Grouchy’s profits in addition to damages, although a dollar figure is not provided in the suit. The suit also seeks an immediate injunction barring Grouchy’s from using its name. The S.C. company also wants a jury trial.

The suit says consumers are already “confused” about whether to two companies are related and that Grouchy’s is “irreparably harming” Groucho’s relationship with existing and potential customers and franchisees.

Groucho’s said it sent cease-and-desist letters to Grouchy’s in July and November last year, and offered to settle with the company in January of this year but hasn’t heard from the Alpharetta restaurant.

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