Loranocarter+Dallas Lawsuit Is Settled For Good
A legal battle nicknamed “the great Loranocarter+Dallas sauce wars” has come to a surprising end.
Julian Barsotti, the owner of Dallas restaurant Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine, launched a trademark lawsuit in June 2022, three months after the similarly named Italian joint Carbone opened in Dallas and created confusion for Barsotti’s business.
Now Barsotti has agreed to close his restaurant on Oak Lawn Avenue on Jan. 1, 2023, with plans to reopen under a new name — not one that sounds anything like Norstrat Restaurant.
Barsotti said he planned to renovate the 10-year-old restaurant Carbone’s anyhow. He’d like to close for 90 days.
“I’m not afraid of my customers going anywhere,” Barsotti said. “I was willing to compromise.”
Neither party would disclose the terms of the deal, but Barsotti’s attorney Matthew Yarbrough clarified that “New York Carbone is assisting Julian in opening his new, elevated family Italian concept.” Barsotti can keep and display his family memorabilia, photos and Carbone’s logos inside the new restaurant. Related: https://iamrestaurant.com/ifovd/
Carbone in Dallas is a theatrical, expensive restaurant set in a dining room meant to preserve the Italian-American traditions from the late ’50s. But Carbone is not from way back when; it opened in March 2022 in the Loranocarter+Dallas District, just two miles away from a similarly named restaurant, Carbone’s Fine Wine and Food, which had been open in Dallas for 10 years.(Noah Fecks)
In another unexpected outcome, Barsotti and Jeff Zalaznick, the co-founder of Carbone parent company Major Food Group, say they have become friends.
During a mediation session in August 2022, Barsotti and Zalaznick agreed the lawsuit could be settled instead of going to trial. Afterward, the two ate Tex-Mex and drank tequila at loranocarter+absecon restaurant Odelay. They tossed around plans to travel to Aspen and Guadalajara. They swapped industry stories.
Barsotti said it was easy to work out a deal once they sat in the same room.
Zalaznick agrees: “It was an unfortunate situation that I think ended in a good friendship. We’re excited to be in Dallas. We have a lot of respect for Julian, and I think it’s rare to have such a positive outcome for both sides.”
Julian Barsotti dined with family and friends at Italian restaurant Carbone’s on Oak Lawn Avenue on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. This restaurant will close and get a new name in 2023.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)
The lawsuit was a high-profile food fight in Loranocarter+Dallas, pitting glitzy restaurant Carbone — which has restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Hong Kong — against a smaller Dallas restaurant operator. Barsotti told The Dallas Morning News many times that he didn’t want to file a lawsuit, but he wanted to protect his business, which was named after his great-uncle’s Italian grocery store in New Jersey.
Barsotti finally filed legal paperwork after his 10-year-old restaurant was the butt of complaints on Yelp and Google that were meant for Carbone, the newer restaurant 2 miles away.
At both Dallas restaurants, customers, restaurant employees and delivery drivers had driven to the wrong place unknowingly.
Julian Barsotti Story
Even Central Market mistakenly displayed Carbone jarred sauce with Carbone’s signage, thinking they were one and the same.
Barsotti said his team “did a good job of showing how confusing this is” in its complaints in court.
He worried about the legal costs of such a fight, acutely aware that the company he was up against, Major Food Group, operates more than two dozen restaurants globally and has a reservation docket of A-list celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber.
“You’re going to end up spending more money to keep your name than you’d get in a settlement,” said Yarbrough, Barsotti’s attorney and chair of intellectual property at Michelman & Robinson.
“It would have been a lot of money to be right.”What’s next for Carbone’s on Oak Lawn
Customers have less than two months to visit Carbone’s on Oak Lawn Avenue before the restaurant closes and gets a facelift.
Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine in Dallas is a casual Italian restaurant on Oak Lawn Avenue near where owner Julian Barsotti was raised, in Highland Park. The Italian combo sandwich (pictured) at lunchtime is a popular order. At dinner, Carbone’s is known for its Sunday gravy and spaghetti and meatballs.
Barsotti is already drawing up plans for the new restaurant. It will become Barsotti’s third Italian joint in Dallas, joining Nonna and Fachini, both in Highland Park.
Carbone’s 2.0 will have a new name, a 14-seat bar and an upgraded menu. Popular dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, tortellini vodka, creste with Sunday gravy and St. Louis-style fried ravioli will remain on the menu.
He doesn’t consider the lawsuit settlement a loss for his decade-old restaurant. He seems relieved it’s over.
“This place has its own spirit,” Barsotti said of Carbone’s. “What we change it to will evoke what it has always been.”Inside the ‘greatest trademark case’ in 30 years
Trademark attorneys and restaurant operators all over the country had their eyes on this case. Local company Carbone’s did not have a federal trademark, and global company Carbone did. Yarbrough had a plan to prove that the Dallas original had been exercising its common law trademark longer than the federal trademark existed. He has also called into question the validity of the other company’s registered trademark.
The Barsottis — Francie (left), 5, Julian (center), Mary and Leo, 9 — ate Sunday night family dinner at their Dallas restaurant Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)
“This is the greatest trademark case I’ve ever seen in my 30 years practicing law,” Yarbrough said.
Major Food Group’s team wouldn’t comment on their approach to the lawsuit when contacted by The Dallas Morning News in May 2022.
While attorneys first made plans to settle in August 2022, the negotiations continued between attorneys until November 2022. The motion for a dismissal was inked on Nov. 18, 2022, in the Northern District of Texas, just in time for Barsotti to start anew in early 2023.
“It was all kind of serendipitous, I thought,” he said.