What's in a Name? Lawsuit Seeks Reply

Time Staff Writer

When Gennaro vs. Gennaro shows up on the court docket, it won't signal a messy divorce proceeding.

Instead, it will involve an unusual battle over a restaurant name.

Gennaro's Ristorante in Glendale has sued Gennaro's Restaurant in Woodland Hills over the use of the name "Gennaro's," alleging that the Woodland Hills restaurant has misappropriated it.

Both restaurants serve Italian cuisine and both opened last year.

Gennaro Rosato, owner of Glendale's Gennaro's at 1109 N. Brand Blvd., claims he named his restaurant after himself when he opened it Jan. 27, 1984.

Santino DeFelice, co-owner of the Woodland Hills Gennaro's at 20969 Ventura Blvd., claims he and his two Naples-born brothers named their place after their late father when they opened it July 1.

Dispute Started

The dispute has been simmering since then.

"A friend told me about them and said it was confusing. Mine is a first-class restaurant. I don't want this confusion," Rosato said.

Rosato, 37, said the DeFelice brothers initially agreed to change their restaurant's name. "They said no problem, that they would do it if I helped them change the printing on their menus," he said Tuesday.

"So I sent them a check for $1,500. When they didn't cash it, I called them back and they said it would cost $8,500 because they had to change the menus and the canopy outside."

Instead of a larger check, Rosato sent the DeFelice brothers copies of a civil lawsuit filed in December that demands they stop using the "Gennaro's" name and asks for $250,000 in damages.

"This is totally unfair. It stinks," said Gino DeFelice, 36, who is the Woodland Hills Gennaro's bartender. "If he'd met us halfway with expenses and been nice about it, we'd have changed the name. But not now. We're going to take this all the way."

"This is total harassment. Gennaro is a very common name, like Smith or Brown."

Added Ciro DeFelice, 45, the maitre d': "They are different restaurants in different locations with different names. Ours is restaurant and his is ristorante ."

Santino DeFelice, 34, who is the chef, said Tuesday that his Gennaro's is not stealing customers from Rosato's Gennaro's. "Who's gonna drive an hour from Glendale to eat in Woodland Hills? I'd agree there could be confusion if there was a Gennaro's next door or a mile and a half away. But not out here."

Rosato, who was born in Taranto, Italy, agreed that Gennaro is a common name in that country. But, it should be uniquely his among Los Angeles restaurants, he said.

Besides losing customers, he has begun receiving the other restaurant's food deliveries and liquor bills, he said.

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