Chef John Tesar isn’t exactly known for keeping his mouth shut, especially when he thinks that he’s been wronged. Over the long holiday weekend, Tesar took to Twitter and unloaded on a Chicago restaurateur who is maybe trying to swipe the idea for Tesar’s massively successful steakhouse Knife.
Back in February, Eater Chicago reported that Chef Timothy Cottini will open Knife, a dry-aged steakhouse, in Lincoln Square. Signage for the restaurant went up last week, and as you’ll notice, there are at least a few on-face similarities.
Take a look at Knife Chicago’s logo. Remind you of anything?
Perhaps a peek at the Knife Dallas logo, affixed to the front of The Highland Hotel, will jog your memory.
Via Twitter, Tesar sounded off on Cottini, alleging that the latter chef unabashedly ripped off his concept.
It’s definitely worth noting that, since 2012, Cottini has served as executive chef of Fork (whose logo largely resembles its forthcoming sister concept) in Lincoln Square. Before Cottini’s arrival, the restaurant was rebranded from Fiddlehead to Fork, which means that Tesar hasn’t always had the monopoly on utensil-themed names.
Still, the two Knife concepts are too close for Tesar’s comfort. The ever-opinionated chef tells Eater that he wasn’t able to trademark the name Knife because of a "cheesy Brazilian steakhouse in Florida," but that this seems like a pretty blatant rip-off.
"Really?" Tesar tells Eater. "Why would you would bluntly rip-off a name and a concept? Why don’t I just go open up FT34?" According to Tesar, he has reached out to Cottini, and is considering legal action.
Eater reached out to Cottini over the long holiday weekend, but he did not immediately respond to our request for comment. Stay tuned for more updates on this testy situation.
UPDATE: When asked for comment, Knife Chicago owner David Byres told Eater that he'd "never heard of John Tesar." As Byres notes, there are currently multiple restaurants named Knife across the world, including a steakhouse in New Orleans.
UPDATE #2: In response to Byres' comment, Tesar provided the following statement to Eater Dallas: "It's obvious that the quality and execution of what Knife Chicago is trying to accomplish is an insult to our hard work and steak in general." Of course, he continued his thoughts on Twitter.