A year-long legal battle between D.C. hospitality giant Clyde’s Restaurant Group and Tennessee-based Monen Family Restaurant Group over the use of the name “Clyde’s” could still sidestep jury deliberations if the two parties resolve their differences via a court-supervised settlement conference that got underway in April.
The iconic D.C. restaurant chain, which put down roots in Georgetown during the Johnson administration and operates one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the country, filed suit against MF Restaurant Group in May 2016 after the organization opened Clyde’s on Church in Nashville. MF Restaurant Group launched Clyde’s on Main — featuring classic American cuisine served in a relaxed atmosphere — in fall 2014.
“We had contacted them before they opened the first one, and they told us they weren’t going to open a second one. And then they did, so we filed a lawsuit,” is how Clyde’s CFO Jeff Owens described the timeline of events that sparked the disagreement.
As reported by the Nashville Business Journal, the Clyde’s Group, which currently operates seven eponymous locations across the D.C.-Metro area, is seeking “an award of MF’s profits, damages sustained by Clyde’s, the costs of this action and three times its actual damages" as part of the ongoing suit.
An attorney at Evans Harrison Hackett, PLLC, the law firm representing the Clyde’s restaurants in Tennessee in this case, declined to comment on the “pending litigation.”
Owens remains hopeful that the settlement conference that began last month will ultimately bear fruit. “We’re trying to get them to change their name,” he said, arguing that the shared nomenclature “really damages our brand “ and “is confusing to customers.”
Although the restaurants in question are situated nearly 700 miles apart, Owens said the Clyde’s Group analyzed credit card receipts from clients who dined with them in Washington and discovered that a significant amount of tourists flow into the area from Music City. “We have a lot of customers who are from Tennessee,” he said.
Moreover, Owens declined to rule out the possibility of the Clyde’s Group ever expanding into the Volunteer State. “Just because we don’t have a restaurant in Tennessee now doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have one there in the the future,” he said.