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Published: Tuesday, 7/1/2003

Restaurant-family rift bubbles over into court


Co-owner Christopher Frick helped make Jed's Barbecue & Brew one of the Toledo area's hottest dining spots by attracting a young and enthusiastic crowd.

But when he filed papers in Columbus suggesting he was going to open another restaurant under his own name, he hit a roadblock.

The roadblock was put up by a company headed by his father, Ray Frick, proprietor of the also popular Fricker's restaurant chain.

Fricker's Progressive Concepts Inc., of West Carrolton, Ohio, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Toledo last week contending that plans by Christopher Frick to open a suburban Toledo eatery called Frick's American Grill infringe on various Fricker's trademarks.

“It is a misunderstanding,” Christopher Frick said yesterday. He declined further comment, referring questions to his attorney.

Mr. Frick's father did not respond to a message left at Fricker's offices in East Toledo. The chain, which jetted to success on the nation's Buffalo wing craze, has a dozen sports-bar-format restaurants in the Toledo and Dayton areas. Its newest outlet, operated by a franchisee, is adjacent to Fifth Third field in downtown Toledo.

Christopher Frick worked for the chain for a time and later struck out in his own. With a partner, he operates, Jed's, which has sites in South Toledo, Perrysburg, and Bowling Green.

The dispute apparently started when Christopher Frick bought a shuttered outlet of Toledo's El Matador chain on Navarre Avenue in suburban Oregon.

A liquor permit application, incorporation papers, and advertisement for an auction of restaurant equipment used by the former owners indicated that the new establishment would be called Frick's American Grill, a court complaint stated.

Use of the name was intended to “capitalize upon the reputation of the Fricker's trademarks and to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive members of the public as to the source or sponsorship of goods and services offered,” Fricker's alleges.

“Plaintiff has used several variations of the Frick surname in connection with the restaurant and related services ... and as a result members of the public have come to associate all such variations of the Frick surname exclusively with plaintiff,” they alleged.

But the dispute could be quickly defused.

William Lindsley, attorney for Christopher Frick, said his client won't use the Frick name for the new restaurant, but another name hasn't been selected.

If the matter isn't resolved, Fricker's is seeking a court injunction stopping use of the name, triple damages, attorney fees and court costs.

The case was assigned to Judge James Carr.

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