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Chicago Restaurateur Responds To Knife ‘Fight’: 'I Had Never Heard of John Tesar'

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Adds that “Knife” isn’t exactly a unique name

Knife should open in late September.
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The owner of Knife, the upcoming steakhouse opening in late September in Lincoln Square, has responded to allegations that his team stole the concept, name and branding. Over the weekend, outspoken Dallas chef and former "Top Chef" contestant John Tesar went on a social media rant, claiming that the Knife team in Chicago had stolen his ideas. Tesar runs a popular steakhouse—also called Knife—in Texas.

Though Tesar tweeted his displeasure at chef Timothy Cottini, Knife (Chicago) owner David Byers elected to respond with a prepared statement:

"Yes, there are a lot of restaurants named Knife all over. We feel it's a good name for a steakhouse, especially since we've owned Fork for six years. For the record, we are not alone. There are a number of Knife restaurants, one in Dallas, five in Florida (open since at least 2007), one in Virginia, one in South Africa, Knife and Tine here in Chicago, Knife and Fork in Atlantic City, Knife and Fork in North Carolina, and Steak Knife Restaurant in New Orleans. I had never heard of John Tesar before Saturday. I feel our new restaurant is completely different from his, our logo looks nothing like his; but yes, they are both restaurants that serve steak."

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to borrow or appropriate ideas, but is this a good example? It’s important to note that Tesar also ran a Dallas restaurant called Spoon, a restaurant that closed in 2014. Likewise, in Chicago, the Knife team run a restaurant called Fork, which opened in 2011 and continues to do business.

Tesar told Eater Dallas that’s he’s contemplating legal action. Maybe his next restaurant should be called Gavel?

Watch: Steakhouse Rules Explained