Eater received an email late Monday from the owner of New York's Uva Wine Bar saying they own the national trademark on the name uva and that their lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Uva in Chicago, which is chef Mark Mendez's forthcoming project with his wife, Liz.
The West Loop Spanish-focused small plates wine bar is scheduled to open the third week of October and when Eater called Mendez to ask about the cease and desist, he said it was the first he'd heard of it. "We saw that this existed. We were going to call it Uva Chicago or something like that," Mendez said. "We'll have to see after I talk to my lawyer. You have to wait and see what happens—so I guess something is happening."
Interestingly enough, Mendez's lawyer also had not yet heard about the cease and desist letter, but said this sort of thing happens often and this isn't the first Uva to be challenged. Apparently, another New York spot, Uva 99, had to change its name, according to Massimo Lusardi, the owner of New York's Uva.
And it doesn't seem like other spots are too concerned about the trademark. Doing a quick Google search reveals a number of restaurants with uva in the name, including Uva Trattoria in Napa, Calif.; Pagano's Uva in New Jersey; Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar in the Disney District in Anaheim, Calif.; Uva Restaurant and Lounge in Coral Gables, Fla; and Uvas Restaurant in Miami.
So will Mendez, who said they're ahead of schedule on the buildout of their restaurant, have to change the name? "If we have to change the name, we can," he said. "I'm not too worried about." Maybe they'll just call it Grape.
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Mark and Liz Mendez [Photo: Facebook]
UPDATE:Uva's Lusardi emailed Eater earlier to say the places we dug up on Google opened before his group registered the name nationally.