English celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is demanding a small cafe in Melbourne to change its name because it’s similar to his Michelin-starred The Fat Duck restaurant in the UK. The owner of the Fat Duck Cafe from Oakleigh South didn’t even know who the celeb chef was, but she had to comply with his lawyers’ demands to change his little eatery’s name.
Katie Norris told the Sunday Herald Sun that she has received a letter from Mr Blumenthal’s lawyers, telling her she needed to change the name of her business or risk being sued. The reason? Her little cafe’s name is similar to his own The Fat Duck.
Mr Blumenthal’s legal team wanted Ms Norris to change the name of her business from Fat Duck Cafe to something else, cancel the business domain name, remove all its advertisements, and hand over all promotional materials.
According to them, Mr Blumental, a “celebrity chef/patron” who has appeared on television, has cookbooks and DVDs, and has a restaurant that has been crowned as the world’s best, would be going after her in court if she wouldn’t do as the letter demanded.
The letter added that 520 Australians have already visited the renowned London eatery, while 1680 were put on a waiting list.
Ms Norris felt she was being bullied into meeting the big time cook’s demands.
“When I first read the letter I thought this is ridiculous. We don’t have a kitchen – it’s a 40-seat cafe where we mostly sell coffee and cake,” she told the paper of her humble business, which is located inside a shopping hub.
“We are just a little cafe where the average bill is $12.50, but our shop has caused a stir even though his is on the other side of the world.”
The famous chef’s The Fat Duck in London has been voted the best restaurant in the UK annually since 2007, and charges an average of $370 per person, whereas Ms Norris’ Fat Duck Cafe most expensive menu item is a focaccia at just $9.50.
Even so, Mr Blumenthal’s legal beagles wanted to get rid of the competition by demanding it to change names. As a result, Ms Norris had to shoulder the thousands of dollars of fees associated with switching business names, including legal paper work and business registration payments.
Mr Blumenthal “wouldn’t be that fussed,” though, he told the Sunday Herald Sun. But since his restaurant is “now a global name, an international name, it’s potentially a difficult thing,” hence, he could not let Ms Norris’ small-time business just pass.
“Somebody could operate under the name The Fat Duck and do whatever, whether it’s coffee, tea, ice cream, and if something goes wrong, then you don’t have any control over it.”
But it appears that Mr Blumenthal has another motive in wanting Ms Norris to give up her business name.
He admitted to 3AW radio show “Breakfast with Ross and John” that he is planning to open a restaurant in Australia sometime in the future.
“I would say – we’re opening a restaurant in Heathrow next June. It’s pretty likely that the next restaurant we open after that would be in Australia,” he said.
“Melbourne would be one of the main targets.”
Ms Norris now plans to call her small cafe Loose Goose.
To contact the editor, e-mail: