An odd legal scuffle has surfaced out of notable Mile End diner Beautys Luncheonette over the name of one of its dishes.
Via CTV Montreal (complete with the headline “Grease and desist”), the 77-year-old diner on Mont-Royal Avenue sent cease and desist notices to various other diners in Montreal, ordering them to stop using the name “Mish-Mash” on their menus.
Bagel Etc, just a few blocks away, and Cosmos in NDG both received the letters, although they had been serving dishes named “Mish-Mash” for many years, with no problem.
The Mish-Mash has been a long-time staple of Beautys menu: an omelette with hot dog, salami, green pepper, and fried onion, with home fries and a bagel on the side. Beautys trademarked the dish and its name decades ago, but has never enforced it until now. Astute diners may have noticed that a small registered trademark symbol appears alongside the Mish-Mash on the Beautys menu — according to government listings, it was registered in 1989 (but had been used as far back as the ‘60s), with Beautys’ owners renewing the registration earlier this year. (Variations of the dish have existed for as long as Beautys has been in business and perhaps longer, under various names.)
The Bagel Etc. Mish-Mash is similar to Beautys — it has beef salami, onion, sausage, and red pepper (there’s also the mega Mish-Mash that throws in cheddar and bacon). At Cosmos, it’s a bit different, made with tomato, cheese, bacon, onion, ham, salami, and sausage. But the differences don’t matter: Beautys owns the name.
The letters sent to Bagel Etc. and Cosmos also requested that they make a $100 donation to the Jewish General Hospital, apparently as a kind of goodwill gesture for using the trademarked name for so many years.
This doesn’t look likely to evolve into some kind of legal battle — Bagel Etc. has agreed to change the name of the dish and make the donation (Cosmos has not made public comment on the issue).
But the tactic from Beautys does raise a few questions: why did they jump straight to a cease and desist letter? (CTV notes that the diner did not previously attempt to reach out to Bagel Etc to ask for a name change, jumping straight to a legal threat, a rather blunt-force move.) And, with the dish being trademarked for years, why enforce it now?
Eater has reached out to Beautys for answers. Meanwhile, city observer Montreal City Weblog offered up one final observation: this slightly litigious behaviour never happened when beloved Beautys owner Hymie Sckolnick was at the helm of the restaurant.