Wisey’s #1 LLC filed a lawsuit for intentional trademark infringement against local restaurant owner Davar Ashgrizzadeh and his businesses, Minellis Pizzeria Enterpries LLC and Nimellis Pizzeria LLC.
Wisey’s #1 is the parent company of Wisey’s — better known as “Healthy Wisey’s” — located at 1440 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Ashgrizzadeh’s restaurant Cafe Romeo’s, located at 2132 Wisconsin Ave. NW, became the base for Wiseats, which operates as a pick-up, delivery and catering service in the D.C. area, earlier this year.
The Wisey’s complaint, which was filed Sept. 27, alleges that Wiseats copied Wisey’s name and logo earlier this year.
“Defendants did not open another location, expand or even alter CafeRomeo’s,” the plaintiff wrote in the complaint. “Defendants simply began marketing their inferior but competing products and services under the confusingly similar Wiseats mark … for the sole purpose of trafficking Wisey’s goodwill and reputation.”
The two delis’ logos, menus and slogans are markedly similar. The Wisey’s slogan is “Eat Right, Eat Wisey’s,” while Wiseats’ slogan is “Eat Wise, Eat Wiseats.” Additionally, some items on the Wisey’s menu, such as a smoothie containing bananas, dates and honey, are replicated exactly on the Wiseats menu.
According to a Wisey’s employee who asked to remain anonymous because speaking to the press could jeopardize his job, Wiseats’ appearance on the market has been confusing to customers.
“[Ashgrizzadeh] is trying to confuse customers, and it’s working,” the employee said. “Customers have called Wisey’s to complain about orders that Wiseats screwed up, and others have called us asking if we opened another store.”
The employee alleged that the infringement began when Ashgrizzadeh recruited a Wisey’s employee who was willing to divulge the deli’s recipes.
“The salads and smoothies on Wiseats menus are all Wisey’s recipes,” the employee said. “But they weren’t able to get a cook to jump ship, which is why they [aren’t able] to copy our sandwiches.”
The employee also alleged that Ashgrizzadeh had his menus made by the same printing shop that Wisey’s uses, Korea Monitor, Inc. The printing shop, however, did not put its own information on the menu for Wiseats.
Though Wisey’s menus bear the publishing information from Korea Monitor, Inc., the Wiseats menus are devoid of any publisher information. The company would not confirm whether it was responsible for printing the Wiseats menu. However, the two delis’ menus have comparable formats, color schemes and coupon inserts and are identical in size.
According to the Wisey’s complaint, Ashgrizzadeh’s copyright infringements on their menus have negatively impacted the deli’s business.
“[They] are intentionally defrauding D.C.-area consumers and maliciously profiting by quite literally brazenly stealing and injuring the reputation and goodwill that Wisey’s has spent years building,” the filing said. “The defendants are competing in the exact same product market from a location on the same street as Wisey’s, selling a knock-off product and hoping that unsuspecting consumers will not notice until it is too late to cancel their order.”
The anonymous Wisey’s employee echoed the sentiments of the complaint.
“We work hard to make a good product,” the Wisey’s employee said. “We’re a small business, and we help out the community, so to have someone come and blatantly steal from us is horrible.”
Wiseats staff declined to comment.