Update: Bissonnette and Oringer agreed to change the name of the restaurant to Faccia a Faccia.
When local chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer went before the Boston Licensing Board for approval to open a new Italian place on Newbury Street called Faccia Brutta, which means "ugly face" in Italian, their attorney said they chose the name because they wanted to show that even though they were serious about their food, "they don't take themselves too seriously."
A Brooklyn company that distills organic Italian-style liqueurs, called Faccia Brutto (yes, with an 'o'), however, is not amused: The company today filed a trademark lawsuit against the two chefs, alleging people are already getting the two ventures confused and that the restaurateurs refused a request to pick a different name.
In its suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, Faccia Brutto, whose founder himself comes from a restaurant family, claims:
Almost immediately after Defendant’s restaurant opened, consumer confusion ensued, and Faccia Brutto received multiple inquiries regarding a perceived connection between Defendant’s restaurant and Faccia Brutto’s beverage products.
It pointed to a comment on the restaurant's Instagram page from somebody who said the two names made it sound like the restaurant had something to do with the cordials.
In fact, the company avers, the two chefs knew about the Brooklyn company because just a few weeks before opening on May 24, they decided to include a Faccia Brutto beverage on their menu.
Faccia Brutto says that when it complained about the confusingly similar names, the restaurant's response was to offer to remove the beverage from the menu, not change the name of the restaurant.
The company also claims the restaurant logo is confusingly similar to the company logo.
The company is asking a judge to order the two chefs to immediately stop calling their restaurant "Ugly Face" and to pay them all the profits they've made so far, plus damages and legal fees.