This is one of those what’s-in-a-name stories about the Fashion Cafe, the new “models-are-us" restaurant in Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, which is not to be confused with the Fashion Cafe in Milan. TOMMASO BUTI, the chief executive of the one in Manhattan, has gone to court, asserting that he — not GIORGIO SANTAMBROGIO, the owner of the one in Milan (as well as another one there called the Fashion Grand Cafe) — has the legal right to the name.
Mr. Santambrogio is arguing that his Fashion Cafe came first. It opened eight years ago. He said that Mr. Buti, an old friend, not only knew about it but also dined there often with his wife, the model DANIELLA PESTOVA.
“Tommaso wanted to call his restaurant in Miami ‘Fashion Cafe,’ " Mr. Santambrogio said yesterday, “and we told him then he couldn’t use the name, so he changed it to ‘Fashion on the Beach.’ Then he opens the place in New York and sues me for $1 Million."
Mr. Santambrogio filed a countersuit against Mr. Buti and three of the partners in the Manhattan restaurant — the models ELLE MACPHERSON, NAOMI CAMPBELL and CHRISTY TURLINGTON. Mr. Santambrogio said he did not name another model and restaurant partner, CLAUDIA SCHIFFER, in the suit “because she is a good friend." Both cases were filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, where a preliminary hearing is expected to be held next month.
Mr. Buti’s attorney, Steven Pokotilow, said Mr. Buti had applied for a trademark in this country. David Jaroslawicz, Mr. Santambrogio’s attorney, said that his client had registered “Fashion Cafe" as a trademark in Europe. Mr. Jaroslawicz also said he believed that an international treaty on copyrights and trademarks covered the use of the name in this country as well.