Tampa restaurants tussle over tagline ‘fresh, healthy, authentic’

in Local Courts/Top Headlines by
B.T. Nguyen

A prolific Tampa restaurateur is accusing a nearby rival of piggybacking off her reputation by using the same tagline of “fresh, healthy, authentic.”

B.T. Nguyen, also known as Bach Tuyet Nguyen, is one of the successful restaurateurs in the Tampa Bay area. In 2015, the 53-year-old native of Vietnam, through her company BTZ LLC, opened “BT to Go,” her seventh restaurant concept.

BT to Go is at 3215 S. MacDill Ave., Suite L in Tampa.

According to a Tampa Bay Times restaurant review, BT to Go’s tagline “fresh, healthy, authentic …  is all those things. A stickler about ingredients: organic tofu, ground grass-fed local beef, Alaskan wild pink salmon. Finished dishes, many of which can be eaten at room temperature or with a quick zap in the microwave, have a wholesome, homemade quality, bright with fresh herbs and nuoc cham.”

Gengiz Khan Turkish Grill is a restaurant that also opened in 2015, moving to its current Tampa location — 3114 Bay to Bay Boulevard — in January 2017. Ergin Tek is its chef and owner.

In 2017, Gengiz Khan’s new location was “approximately two blocks away from BT To Go,” according to a lawsuit filed May 10 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. In addition, Gengiz Kahn  “erected a sign advertising its restaurant as ‘Fresh. Healthy. Authentic.’”

The suit claims that BT to Go has used the “Fresh. Healthy. Authentic” tagline since its opening in November 2015, and is accusing Gengiz Khan of trying to “trick” consumers into thinking the two eateries are affiliated, thereby boosting sales by way of BT’s reputation.

“On information and belief, GK chose to use the mark, ‘Fresh. Healthy. Authentic,” the suit says, “for its restaurant in anticipation that customers of BT To Go would believe that its restaurant is affiliated with BTZ’s restaurant.”

“Fresh. Healthy. Authentic.” has been adopted as the trade name and mark for Nguyen’s business, the complaint continues, and is “recognized as such by consumers” and is “famous” as defined by Florida Statute.

The suit says Gengiz Kahn has refused BT’s demands to stop using the phrase.

BT is asking the court for exclusive use of the tagline.

 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.