Portland Food World Drama – Killer Burger, Rock and Roll Chili Pit, and Patsy’s

Photo credit: Chris K on Flickr

Because why not show a burger and a Sasquatch when you’re talking burgers in Portland?

It’s been a long, busy week but I don’t want to close it out without writing about two unfortunate litigious situations here in the greater Portland area having to do with Killer Burger + Rock and Roll Chili Pit, and Patsy’s New York Pizzeria.

Killer Burger & Rock and Roll Chili Pit

Last Tuesday the folks at Eater referred to a post in the Oregon Intellectual Property Blog about a lawsuit between Killer Burger and Rock and Roll Chili Pit (RRCP). I’ll admit, I was dismayed to hear this, because I like the food at Killer Burger and have plans to stop in at the Chili Pit, and it’s no fun seeing restaurants fight.

That said, here’s the deal:

“The Defendants left Killer Burger in 2016 (apparently not on the best of terms) to start their new restaurant and are accused of ‘using and advertising two burgers which were stolen straight from the Killer Burger menu.’ Killer Burger considers their burger recipes to be confidential information.”

Apparently the burgers in question are the Black Molly and the Epic. Epic is still on the Rock and Roll Chili Pit’s online menu and while it’s not currently on the Killer Burger menu, it has been in the past. Willamette Week makes the comparison:

Killer Burger’s “Epic Burger” contains “Pulled pork, bacon, Texas sweet slaw, Monterey jack, grilled onion, bacon, bbq sauce, house sauce.”

Rock and Roll Chili Pit’s “Epic Burger” contains “pulled pork, bacon, jack cheese, slawsome & bbq sauce, onion, spread.”

There are other allegations made regarding similarities between the two businesses—copying the rock music vibe—and they both offer burgers with creative names. It’s also worth noting that RRCP has a couple of peanut-butter-bacon combo items, while Killer Burger has a distinctive burger with peanut butter on it (something I hadn’t encountered until I moved to Portland). It’s alleged that the recipe for the peanut sauce was disclosed to RRCP and therefore “breached the stock redemption agreement.”

You can read the text of the complaint, here.

Patsy’s and Patsy’s

Curious to see what else has transpired in this realm, I poked around the Oregon Intellectual Property Blog and found yet another person who is in hot water because of choices they made. A man named Pat (short for Patsy) DeSiervi opened up a pizza joint in Oak Grove, OR called—wait for it—Patsy’s New York Pizzeria. He is considered in his community to be a nice guy but when it comes to trademarks that’s out the window.

Photo credit: Paul Lowry

Patsy’s Pizza in New York City.

According to the Oregon IP Blog, “The Plaintiff in this lawsuit, a New York corporation, has been operating pizzerias under PATSY’S PIZZERIA or PATSY’s trademarks since 1933 and franchising the PATSY’S PIZZERIA trademark since 1996.” Apparently this Oregon Patsy’s offered up some of the same specialty pies as the original Patsy’s, which is legendary in and outside of NYC.

So, back in 2015, IOB Realty (the original Patsy’s who owes the trademark) caught wind of this and asked DeSiervi to change the name of his pizzeria; he “did not care” if he had to do that so it sounds like things are copacetic, right? But he reopened in 2017 under the same name, Patsy’s New York Pizzeria. The suit claims that “DeSiervi has embarked upon a malicious and intensional scheme” to use the Patsy’s trademark.

You can read the full text of the complaint, here.

Final Thoughts

Strife in the world of delicious food does not make me happy but at the same time I understand why people want to protect their work. I hope in both situations the suits can be resolved amicably.

Killer Burger Sues Rock and Roll Chili Pit Owners [Eater PDX]
Local pizzeria owner may not be able to use own name [Oregon Intellectual Property Blog]
Killer Burger sues former owner over stolen hamburgers [Oregon Intellectual Property Blog]
Burger Beef: Killer Burger Sues Upstart Over Alleged Recipe Theft [Willamette Week]

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Bridgetown Bites is written by Meg Cotner, a food loving freelance writer, editor and published author in Portland, OR.
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3 Replies to “Portland Food World Drama – Killer Burger, Rock and Roll Chili Pit, and Patsy’s”

    1. Agreed – it’s hard to watch the divide that’s happening between these two restaurants. I really do hope things can be resolved amicably. Glad you liked the Sasquatch, too!

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