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Owners of First Ambrosia Say Name Is Used Illegally

Times Staff Writer

The former owners of the original and since closed Ambrosia restaurant filed suit Monday in Orange County Superior Court claiming that the name is being illegally used by a new Costa Mesa restaurant.

The action, which seeks $10 million in punitive damages and other unspecified damages, alleges that Michael Harrah took the name and distinctive type style in the original Ambrosia’s name--script, with a crown dotting the i --and is improperly using them at a restaurant at 695 Town Center in Costa Mesa.

According to the lawsuit, when Harrah opened his Ambrosia restaurant last October, he falsely implied that he was reopening the original Ambrosia--long considered to be one of Orange County’s most elegant restaurants.

The suit was brought by George Lenahan and Geril and Gosta Muller, all Tustin residents who opened the original Ambrosia in Newport Beach 14 years ago. The restaurant thrived for 10 years in Newport Beach, then moved to Costa Mesa in 1983 but was unable to earn a profit. It closed in 1985.

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Both sides agree that Harrah acquired the legal right to use “Ambrosia” as a fictitious name for his business in Orange County after the former owners allowed their legal claim on the name to lapse. “We have all the legal rights to the name,” Harrah said Monday.

But William Woo, a Santa Ana lawyer who represents the Mullers, said that his clients hold the legal service mark and trade name rights and that they supersede Harrah’s right to the fictitious name.

The Mullers now own the 30th Street Bistro, located at the site of the original Ambrosia in Newport Beach, and want to rename the restaurant “Ambrosia,” Woo said.


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