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Meaty lawsuit filed against Astoria vegan restaurant

JUJUBe

May 5, 2015 By Michael Florio

It’s a tofu fight.

The owner of a pan-Asian vegan restaurant wants Jujube Tree, located at 35-02 30th Ave, shut down claiming it is a knock off.

Wild Ginger, which has a restaurant in Manhattan and Brooklyn, claims that recently-opened Jujube Tree has copied its menu, secret recipes and décor.

The lawsuit claims that several Jujube Tree workers were former Wild Ginger employees and that they conspired together to open the Astoria restaurant.

At least three former Wild Ginger employees are now working—and may be owners–of Jujube Tree, according to the lawsuit. These three individuals are defendants in the suit.

They are Zhong Gui Ren, who allegedly served as the acting manager/kitchen supervisor for more than six years at Wild Ginger; Wu Qu Song, who served as the main chef at the Wild Ginger Brooklyn location until Sept. 2014; and Zhou (no other identification) who was the salad chef until Oct. 2014

“We don’t know yet if these former employees are the owners [of Jujube Tree], but certainly they are key personnel, including the chef,” said Wild Ginger lawyer, Ronald Israel.

The suit claims that several of its secret sauces have been duplicated. It said that the Xiang Ting Fang, the owners,  had about 20 secret recipes that appear to have been copied.

The lawsuit also states that Jujube Tree has infringed on Wild Ginger’s copyrighted menu– in terms of the items list and the way it looks.

“The very fact that both plaintiff’s’ Wild Ginger Menu and Defendant’s menu contain a period at the end of the description of Oshitashi when no other items on either menu contain a period…is evidence the defendants copied and pasted the items,” the lawsuit claims.

Proof of this is also evident, the suit says, by the fact that there are the same number of starters, the description of all items on the menu are word for word the same, with the description in the same italicized font.

It goes as far as to state that a typo, of an unnecessary semicolon, in the description of the Tofu Skin Wraps appears on both menus.

It is not just the food and menu that is eerily similar, but the décor as well, the lawsuit states.

It states that the interior walls of Jujube’s dining room is painted in the same lime green color and includes the same red brick walls as Wild Ginger’s dining room walls, and Jujube’s interior even features the same tongue and groove dark wood paneling that is found in the interior of Wild Ginger.

All these similarities have confused customers into thinking that Jujube Tree is the third restaurant opened by Wild Ginger.

The lawsuit points to examples of custom confusion, citing Yelp reviews.

“if you’ve ever gone to Wild Ginger in Brooklyn, you’ll know what to expect from Jujube Tree, and I suspect the two restaurants might have the same owner, as many of the menu items, as well as choice of dishware and tea cups, were near identical,” one review reads.

“I was ridiculously excited to see that Jujube Tree, of LuAnn’s Wild Ginger fame, opened in Astoria,” another reads.

The owners of Wild Ginger want to see Jujube Tree shut down, claiming that they have been profiting off of their business.

Israel, the attorney, said he is confident that they will be able to prove that Jujube copied Wild Ginger, calling it an “egregious” case.

“Due to all the confusion from customers it would be hard to argue,” he said.

Wild Ginger opened at 380 Broome Street in Manhattan in 2005 and opened its Brooklyn location at 112 Smith Street in 2008.

Jujube Tree did not respond for comment.

Wild Ginger Complaint (via Court) by sunnysidepost

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2 Comments

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Jen

So…this is the first I’m hearing about this and had never been to Wild Ginger. I love Jujube Tree and though it looks pretty obvious that something is amiss here…I’m still going to eat there. Astoria has a few places that can work as vegan but no truly dedicated vegan restaurants. If they shut down Jujube Tree, Wild Ginger better open a location up in Astoria. Although…then I’d spend considerably less on takeout. Meh.

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Kimberly

We have been starving for vegan restaurants in Astoria. Why didn’t wild Ginger open up an Astoria location themselves? We’re grateful that someone did…and the selfish corporate greed motivating this attempted shut-down does not seem consistent with the cruelty-free lifestyle that vegan living supports.

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