The Wolfie War

So your name is Wolfgang, and you want to open a restaurant? Don’t name it after yourself. And don’t place it anywhere near a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Puck has the Wolfgang part of the restaurant world all wrapped up, thanks. Puck’s suing restaurateur Wolfgang Zwiener for opening a Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills—on the same street as Puck’s Spago, and just blocks away from his steakhouse, Cut.

The new restaurant, says the lawsuit, creates confusion in the public’s mind. “Why not use the whole name if he’s so self confident?” Variety’s The Knife blog has Puck saying. “Sooner or later, people find out it’s not us. People go [to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse] and tell me, ‘I asked for you and they say you’re not in.’ They don’t tell them it’s not my place.”

Zwiener is no upstart. The Peter Luger veteran opened his first New York-based Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in 2004, and it was successful enough to warrant a second location. Chowhounders give the places a qualified thumbs up.

Perhaps the Wolfgangs can work out a bi-coastal agreement: Zwiener is Wolfie on the east coast, while Puck is Wolfie on the west. That would mean that Zwiener would have to rename his LA steakhouse “Zwiener’s,” and Puck would have sole dominion over the name “Puck’s” in New York. Too bad neither of those names sound very appetizing.

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