MANHATTAN — A 2009 contestant from TV's "The Next Iron Chef" is suing an alleged copy-cat restaurant for trademark infringement.
Jehangir Mehta, owner of Graffiti Bistro & Bakery in the East Village at 224 East 10th Street, says that Graffit USA, an Upper West Side restaurant at 141 W 69th St. owned by Jesus Nunez Rabano, has copied his eatery in everything from its name right down to its menu, according to the lawsuit.
From the name of Upper West Side eatery "Graffit," which the lawsuit claims is "virtually identical" and "confusingly similar" to Mehta's East Village "Graffitti Bistro," to its dishes, both of which are "small internationally-themed tasting plates that incorporate unique food combinations and unusual ingredients," both restaurants tell a remarkably similar story.
Mehta is specifically peeved about Rabano's plan to use Pop Rocks, a hard candy, in his dishes — an ingredient that Mehta has been using, "for many years," according to the lawsuit.
As an example of the confusion caused by Graffit USA, the lawsuit states that customers have made phone calls to Mehta's restaurant asking for directions while standing outside of Graffit USA.
According to the lawsuit, Mehta sent a cease and desist letter to Graffit on December 22, 2010, asking that they stop using the name, but to no avail.
Mehta is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, and asking that Graffit cease any practices that would be considered unfair competition.
Neither restaurant immediately responded to requests for comment.