A restaurant in Los Angeles has filed a common law trademark infringement lawsuit in a California federal court against Dallas-based Vandelay Hospitality Group, which this week opened a Hudson House near an existing, unrelated eatery that shares its name.
Hudson House Redondo Beach says in a Jan. 20 court filing that Vandelay’s usage of the name “Hudson House” for its new Los Angeles restaurant location is trademark infringement and a violation of California common law.
Vandelay operates concepts Drake’s Hollywood, East Hampton Sandwich Company, Hudson House, Brentwood, Lucky’s Hot Chicken, and D.L. Mack’s, all of which originated in Dallas but have plans to expand nationwide. Its CEO, Hunter Pond, was raised in Highland Park and started the company with East Hampton Sandwich Company in 2012 at age 25.
Hudson House Redondo Beach alleges in the lawsuit that Vandelay was aware the name was in use when it was promoting and opening its new restaurant. Its official opening is today. Hudson House Redondo Beach was founded by chefs Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts in 2008, and the Dallas Hudson House opened in 2017, the lawsuit says. Williamson and Roberts named the restaurant after their then-newborn child, Hudson. Williamson won season 14 of Top Chef in 2017 and left Hudson House Redondo Beach in 2020.
Vandelay’s Hudson House is located at 9255 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, about 20 miles from Hudson House at 514 N. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach. The Redondo Beach Hudson House offers more casual bar fare than the upscale Americana of Vandelay’s Hudson House, but there are some overlapping menu items: both restaurants serve fish tacos, lobster rolls, and burgers.
The LA restaurant says in the lawsuit that it is actively involved in the community and that the “Hudson House” name has been established by and associated with the business for years. It also alleges that a second restaurant using its name has caused confusion with customers, vendors, and potential employees, resulting in “lost sales, reduced the business and profit of Hudson House, and will greatly injure the general reputation of Hudson House, all to Hudson House’s damage in an amount not yet fully determined.”
Eater LA reported in June that representatives for Vandelay were aware of the name overlap but chose to move forward with the opening of the restaurant. Attorneys for Hudson House Redondo Beach and Vandelay did not respond to requests for comment.
The petition is a reminder of another trademark lawsuit involving high-profile restaurant Carbone (whose parent company is Major Food Group) and Dallas’ Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine that ended in a settlement last year. The owner of Dallas’ Carbone’s decided to close his restaurant and reopen under a new name.
The new lawsuit against Vandelay comes after other reports detail an incident involving Pond: a Colorado sheriff’s department late last year issued a warrant for Pond’s arrest stemming from an incident in Oct. 2022. A spokesperson with the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office told D Magazine that the charges are not serious enough to merit extradition from Texas. Pond would be detained only if he returns to Colorado. Pond filed a lawsuit last Wednesday alleging he was assaulted in the incident.
Vandelay may also go to trial later this year in two additional lawsuits. The lawsuits were filed in 2021 by two former employees who said they were encouraged to discriminate against employees and customers of color or who were not considered attractive. The former employees say they were fired for refusing to comply. Pond has denied the allegations.