Days after opening for takeout only, Owensboro’s locally owned Juicy Crab Seafood Restaurant has caught the attention of a Georgia-based restaurant company with a similar name.
“The Juicy Crab” franchise is looking into addressing the issue with their legal team regarding the name.
Cafe 88 Inc./The Juicy Crab Inc. opened their first corporate restaurant in Duluth, Ga., in 2015. The company has since added about 25 locations throughout the southeast, with more also on the way. Locations can be found here.
Owensboro’s restaurant is not affiliated with the franchise in any way, and the owners of the local restaurant said they came up with the name on their own.
The Juicy Crab Inc. does not have any corporate or franchise locations in Kentucky. So when owners of Owensboro’s restaurant registered “Juicy Crab Seafood Restaurant” with the Secretary of State, the name itself was approved.
However, a spokesperson for The Juicy Crab Inc. said that didn’t matter.
“It can’t be called ‘Juicy Crab’ or ‘The Juicy Crab,’” said spokesman Todd Strickland. “The Juicy Crab in Atlanta, Ga., will do whatever it takes to protect our well-established brand.”
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Cafe 88 Inc. in Duluth does have word and logo mark for “The Juicy Crab.”
It’s not the first time the franchise has issued a cease-and-desist because of a restaurant with a similar name. In 2018, something similar happened in Cincinnati. That independently owned restaurant decided to change the name to The Cincinnati Crab rather than fight a lengthy or expensive legal battle.
Owensboro’s restaurant is owned by Shufei Jiang. When asked about the naming issue, he said a lawyer told him it would be OK. He said the lawyer also told him the menu was different enough there would be no issues. Due to language barriers, Jiang’s son helped communicate with Owensboro Times via a phone call.
“We have the state’s approval to use that name,” Jiang’s son said. “I don’t know what the issue is with that. We came up with the name and submitted it to the state, and the state was OK with it. If the state office let us use that name, we assume it’s OK.
“Ultimately it is a compliment that people want to try and ride to coattails of The Juicy Crab because we have done so well. People love our famous Juicy Special sauce with our cajun-style seafood boil. The problem is, when quality of food and service do not match our standards, people assume the fake Juicy Crab is associated with our brand, and can hurt our brand.“
For example, in the Facebook comments on the story Owensboro Times published about the restaurant opening, one person posted a menu that is actually for The Juicy Crab franchise, not Owensboro’s seafood restaurant. Multiple people who shared the Facebook post included references to locations in Georgia.
“They are definitely not our franchise and they’re not associated with our brand whatsoever,” Strickland said of Owensboro’s restaurant. “We believe it will cause confusion in the marketplace because it already has.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Jiang said they planned to stay open.