Dec. 12, 2014 By Michael Florio
Call it an old fashioned food fight.
Don Coqui, a Puerto Rican restaurant that has three locations throughout New York, will be opening its fourth restaurant in Astoria next week.
The restaurant has no affiliation with the Don Coqui located at 28-18 31st Street—and now the two restaurants are fighting it out in court to see who has the right to use the “Don Coqui” name.
The newcomer, located at 22-55 31st Street, has filed suit in US District Court against the owners of the 28-18 31st restaurant claiming that it has no right to use the Don Coqui name—which it claims it trademarked.
“We are suing them to make sure they change their name,” said Jimmy Rodriguez, who is opening the 22-55 31st location. “They don’t have the trademark.”
Rodriguez said that the owners of the 28-18 31st Street location were originally affiliated with the Don Coqui chain of restaurants. The first year the 28-18 31st Street restaurant operated under a licensing agreement to use the Don Coqui name, he said. However, since early 2013 their association ended and the 31st location should have stopped using the name.
“They have used our name without our permission,” Rodriguez stated. “We want them to get rid of the name. We do don’t want to be associated with them.”
Rodriguez said that his Don Coqui restaurants focus more on dining, while the one at 28-18 31st Street operates like a club.
He is concerned that his restaurant’s reputation might be hurt by the 28-18 31st Street location.
The owner of Don Coqui at the 28-18 31 Street location did not want to comment on the matter.
However, in a statement issued in August, the owner of the 28-18 31st Street location, said: “In our opinion, the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by … the Rodriguez family to bully us into giving up the name. It seems to us that they cannot compete based on quality of food and service, so they have apparently decided to use the courts.”
The judge hearing the case has not yet ruled on the matter.
The new “Don Coqui” will offer traditional Puerto Rican food like the one of at 28-18 31st Street–such as chicken and rice, shredded beef, crab legs, as well as steak and onions. The restaurant will have a full bar.
The establishment will seat 50 people and will be open from 12 pm to 12 midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 12 pm to 2 am Friday and Saturday.
The location was previously Ditmars Station. Signs for the new Don Coqui went up yesterday.