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Lockhart is Coming and It’s Definitely Not a Harry Potter Themed Bar

Fans of the series Siriusly shouldn't expect too much of a magical vibe

The Lockhart

The internet has been aflutter with the news that Toronto bar The Lockhart will be opening a location on St-Denis Street in the Plateau, simply named Lockhart. DailyHive first picked up the news, which dropped via the bar’s Instagram.

Something wicked this way comes.... #comingsoon #thelockhartmtl

A post shared by The Lockhart Bar (@thelockhartbar) on

The Toronto Lockhart, which opened in 2015, undoubtedly has a magic theme, and hints at the popular book and movie franchise about teen wizard Harry Potter, penned by British author J.K. Rowling. With a focus on tapas and cocktails, menu items in Toronto include “Herbology 101” (herbed up roasted potatoes), “Not Every Flavour Jelly Beans” (referring to the fictional candy, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, a real-life version of which is currently licensed to Jelly Belly), and “Better Beer” (a take-off on the series’ creamy libation Butterbeer, an approximation of which is sold at Universal Studios’ Orlando theme park).

Here’s the catch, though — it’s a stretch to call Lockhart a “Harry Potter-themed bar” as a vast amount of the media coverage has done. Harry Potter “inspired”, would be more accurate — the Toronto Star is closest to the mark, calling it “Harry Potter-influenced”.

Nowhere at The Lockhart is there any direct mention of the Harry Potter character himself, or other central elements of the series, in décor, or in menu offerings beyond a few minor touches (although there are plenty of references to generic, non-Potter-specific elements of magic — the bar is deemed an “Apothecary”, and mentions of charms and potions abound).

Even the bar’s own site makes absolutely no mention of Potter or anything explicitly tied to the series — not even as a source of inspiration. . The reason for this is that to open up a pop culture themed venue like a Harry Potter bar, owners have to pay for the rights to use trademarked elements from the pop culture franchise — be it Butterbeer, distinctive characters, or, of course, the Harry Potter name. If they use those without permission, they can get sued.

Eater’s very own Whitney Filloon reported on the phenomenon of pop culture-themed bars last week, calling them a “risky business”. Speaking to Eater, New York entertainment lawyer Steven C. Beer explains how someone wanting to open a themed bar (be it Star Wars, Harry Potter, Seinfeld, or anything else) needs to go about it.

”When you open a pop-up restaurant and you have specifically incorporated other people’s intellectual property — for example the images, the names, the characters, even the style of clothes — those all belong to a third-party media company [such as a film studio],” he explains.

“Anytime you’re using someone’s intellectual property in a commercial realm, you have to go to them and ask for permission, a license. That often incorporates payment — oftentimes upfront, sometimes royalties, frequently both.”

Filloon highlights a Chicago bar themed after 90s TV show Saved by the Bell, which opened without obtaining rights to use elements of that show, and was approached by lawyers from NBC Universal (who owned the rights to the show) not long after.

That bar worked out a deal with the company to pay a licensing fee. The Lockhart could do the same — but Harry Potter is one of the most internationally successful book and movie series ever, and trademarks to the series are heavily licensed by major, moneyed-up corporations — an entire Universal theme park in Orlando, Florida, is just one example. Those rights would almost certainly be unaffordable for a single bar.

So, just like in Toronto, Lockhart Montreal will tiptoe around the Harry Potter theme. The name is an ideal example: it’s sufficiently distanced from the series, referring to a secondary (nay, tertiary) character, Gilderoy Lockhart, who appears in just two of the books, and who has a plausibly generic-sounding name that doesn’t immediately conjure up the Potter series to a bystander who encounters it. Calling it something more distinctive like “The Snape”, “The Weasley”, or “Diagon Alley” would almost certainly conjure up lawyers.

So, Montreal — you’re getting a magic-themed bar with hints of Harry Potter, and regardless of the food and booze quality (which is reportedly quite good in Toronto), fans of the series shouldn’t expect too much of a Potter vibe: and even the owners, when poked, will admit that, as they told The Star.

“[Owner Matt] Rocks is adamant that the bar won’t be turning into a full-blown Harry Potter bar anytime soon.”

It’s a shrewd marketing approach, to be sure, but could result in disappointment for customers who are expecting a fully-fledged Potter experience — and there’s certainly a few of those on The Lockhart’s Yelp page.

Lockhart

3979 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2W 2M4 Visit Website