Ever since Dallas culinary titan Kent Rathbun parted ways with his longstanding restaurant Abacus, the battle between the restaurateur and his former business partner Bill Hyde has been the definition of nasty. Last year, Hyde alleged that Rathbun was not allowed to use his name in future restaurant concepts, and now it looks like the chef’s adopted moniker is now under fire.
Since the legal battle began, Rathbun has been cheekily calling himself “The Chef With No Name” as he’s worked on projects like Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing’s Lovers Seafood & Market and Chelsea Corner. Now, the Dallas Observer reports that a Dallas judge has issued a ruling that bars Rathbun from even using his adopted moniker.
According to court documents, H2R Restaurants argued that Rathbun’s nickname constituted an “advertising campaign” that the chef used to garner publicity for his new restaurant projects. The group also alleges that Rathbun has poached employees from the group’s restaurants to staff Chelsea Corner and Lovers Seafood & Market.
As was reported last year, a pending lawsuit filed by H2R Restaurant Holdings alleges that Rathbun signed a document that granted the company the “right in perpetuity to the exclusive use of Rathbun’s personal identity, likeness, name, and reputation.” In response, Rathbun’s lawyers called the agreement “unenforceable,”
The temporary restraining order is in effect until at least May 19, when Rathbun and H2R Restaurant Holdings head to court for a hearing on the suit. Rathbun has not announced what nickname he’ll use to do business in Dallas in the future just yet, but perhaps “The Chef Who Is Legally Not Allowed To Have A Nickname” will do?