Food fight: Uptown’s New York Pizza sues Metairie eatery over similar name _lowres

New York Pizza’s logo (left), which is used on their sign on Magazine Street, compared to New York Famous Pizza’s sign (right) on Jefferson Highway.

New York Pizza, which has been serving pizza pies on Magazine Street since 1980, has sued newcomer New York Famous Pizza, claiming the similarity of the Metairie restaurant’s name is causing confusion among the customer base the Uptown business has spent decades building up.

The suit, filed this week in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, says that since New York Famous Pizza opened at 3531 Jefferson Highway last month, at least 19 New York Pizza customers have asked owner Wayne DelCorral if he has opened a location in Metairie.

“I’ve had so many people saying, ‘I didn’t know you had a place on Jefferson!’ and I’ve said, “I don’t,’ ” DelCorral said in an interview. “I don’t know if it’s good exposure or bad exposure, but I don’t want someone thinking they’re getting my product when they’re not.”

To the owners of New York Famous Pizza, however, the difference is as clear as pepperoni on a 14-inch pie.

“We are different,” said Mike Soliman, who opened the Jefferson Highway restaurant with his two sons, Joe and Andrew. “They have New York Pizza, we have New York Famous Pizza. … It’s (in) a different city, a different ZIP code.”

DelCorral’s suit, however, notes that New York Famous Pizza’s sign has “New York Pizza” in bold red letters, with “famous” written in smaller black letters, “thereby intentionally making the three words ‘New York Pizza’ stand out to potential customers.”

Joe Soliman said there are numerous differences: His family’s sign says they also serve gyros, wings and subs, and the menu prominently features a fleur-de-lis on the cover and Canal Street on the inside.

While there is a Statue of Liberty in the mix, “we kinda tried to stay away from New York with the menu to avoid this issue,” he said.

DelCorral opened New York Pizza at Magazine and Dufossat streets, several blocks away, in December 1980, though it’s been at 4418 Magazine since 2009. In the meantime, he’s opened and closed New York Pizza restaurants on North Carrollton Avenue and Metairie Road.

“After 36 years I’ve been in business, it’s not right for somebody to ride on my shirttails,” he said.

The suit says DelCorral owns the rights to the New York Pizza trade name until 2021, and the restaurateur said he has successfully contested similar situations in the local market over the years.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through this,” he said, noting he doesn’t mind if there are New York Pizzas in other parts of the state.

DelCorral said he sent a cease-and-desist letter before filing the suit, which seeks temporary and permanent injunctions to stop New York Famous Pizza from using the name, as well as unspecified damages, lost profits and court costs.

Jason Foote, the Solimans’ attorney, said he hasn’t had a chance to go through the suit yet, limiting his comments to skepticism that DelCorral can trademark the name of a well-known style of pizza.

“I do have my questions as to whether New York Pizza is entitled to trademark protection of the name,” he said.

He’ll see if something can be worked out between the two sides, Foote said.

“There certainly is a lot to discuss if it ends up going further in litigation,” he said. “At this point, my client is hopeful we don’t have to get bogged down in any long litigation.”

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.