Menu plagiarism in East Village? | Bleader

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Menu plagiarism in East Village?

Posted By on 06.25.09 at 01:15 PM

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Take a close look at the menus in the picture. The one on the left is the take-out menu for the East Village Italian joint Bella's Pizza & Restaurant, located on Ashland Avenue. The one on the right is from Jose's Restaurant, not far away on Winchester, just north of Chicago Avenue.

You'll notice that Bella's has a spinach, chicken, and alfredo sauce calzone called the "Pretty Boy Floyd" that sells for $6.75. So does Jose's.

Bella's has create-your-own and vegetarian calzones for $6.75 too. So does Jose's.

The only difference in each restaurant's calzone offerings is that Bella's has a $6.75 sausage, mushroom, and cheese number called the "Godfather." Jose's also has one, but it's called the "Gofather."

In fact, aside from a few minor details and typos, Jose's take-out menu--which advertises "Fine Mexican Cuisine and Authentic Italian Pizza and more"--is virtually identical to the Bella's menu, down to each and every item, its pricing, and even a $2 coupon for a 6-pack of soda. See for yourself in the attached photos.

To confuse matters even more, there's a different Italian menu posted on GrubHub, in addition to Jose's regular Mexican menu. The thing is, apart from some newly introduced thin-crust pizzas, Jose's is currently only serving Mexican food. What gives?

Bella's owner Mike Cosmano says he became aware of the situation when a regular customer called to ask if the restaurant had changed its name. He has a theory about what's been happening, but I'd like to talk to Jose Hernandez, owner of Jose's, before passing it on.

Hernandez hasn't returned my calls, but a fellow named Gabriel there told me: "We're promoting the pizzas. We're trying to get that going and then we're gonna get into the Italian dishes eventually." But at the moment, Gabriel said, the pizza guy is on vacation. "We'll have them again in a week. Everybody's calling for the pizza."

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