Marketing Bootcamp

Ruth's Chris Sends Cease and Desist to Parody Indian Steakhouse Pop-Up

Ruth's Chris Sends Cease and Desist to Parody Indian Steakhouse Pop-Up
Image credit:

Ruth's Chris has a bone to pick with a parody Indian pop-up steakhouse run by celebrity chef David Chang.

The steakhouse chain sent a cease-and-desist notice to the creators of Ruth Krishna's Tandoori Steakhouse, a steak-centric Indian restaurant created as a one-night-only promotional stunt for the "Fantasy" issue of food magazine Lucky Peach. So, the faux restaurant concept run by Lucky Peach editor and celebrity chef David Chang and chef Akhtar Tawab, is rebranding to "Randy Krishna's."

While Chang, Tawab and Lucky Peach could have fought the case in court, using similar justification to last year's "Dumb Starbucks," the team decided to avoid a lawsuit, telling Eater, it's "better to spend money on lunch and comic books and paying bills than it is on lawyers when you don't need to." According to the publication, Lucky Peach chose to rebrand Ruth Krishna's as Randy Krishna's after contemplating a number of names including Steak 'n' Saag, Goa-head Make My Steak, Priya Luger and Corporate Buzzkill Tandoori Steaks.

Related: The Story of How McDonald's All-Day Breakfast Came to Be

Randy Krishna's will still serve up dishes like tandoori ribeye, creamed saag paneer and biryani onion rings for customers who have already purchased tickets for the sold-out event on Sept. 17 in a made-over Italian restaurant in Manhattan.

Dumb Starbucks, a non-Starbucks affiliated coffee shop featured on comedy-reality show Nathan for You in which every item adopted the "dumb" precursor, may be the case most similar to Ruth Krishna's in relation to parody law. However, the pair are far from alone when it comes to supposed imitators getting in trouble with the law – though in most cases, the copycats are actual restaurants, not just satiric pop ups.

In 2005, Starbucks forced Sam Bucks, a coffee shop run by Sam Buck Lundberg in Astoria, Ore. to change its name to Downtown Coffee. In-n-Out has successfully filed lawsuits against burger joints with similar menus and signage. However, one "imitator" remains standing: Ronald McDonald, the proud owner of McDonald's Family Restaurant, which opened just one year after the first McDonald's. 

Related: Will 'Dumb Starbucks' Be Smart Enough to Get Away With Selling Parody Coffee?

Edition: October 2016

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now