Legal row with national chain leads to Lancashire restaurant name change
A restaurateur claims he's had to change the name of his two eateries after pressure from a national chain.
Vito Bruno set up Gusto Italia in School Lane, Bamber Bridge in 2010, and yesterday opened a second restaurant in Watery Lane, Preston.
But the 40-year-old dad-of-two has changed both shops to the name Il Gusto D’Italia - at a cost of thousands - after receiving a solicitors letter from national chain Gusto.
Gusto say they trademarked their name in 2005 and are following the law to protect the brand.
Although discussions over the name Il Gusto D’Italia are still underway, Vito claims it has lead to months of delays opening the Preston venue, and he can no longer afford to wait for final approval.
He added: “It’s been very frustrating, but I can’t afford to go to court. It would cost me at least £30,000 and there’s no guarantee I would win.
“They are big boys and would get a top lawyer from London, so I gave up.
“We’ve agreed to change the name and they’ve got to sign a form. They haven’t done that yet, but I can’t wait around any longer. I have bills and staff to pay. It’s a good job that people around here know us and who we are. We’re not being grumpy though - we’ve worked very hard on this place and we’re excited to open.”
Vito claims the wrangle has so far cost him £2,000 in solicitors fees, £1,000 to re-do the sign in Bamber Bridge, and he also has to pay for new uniforms and has to change his website.
He said: “This has happened after six years of trading in Bamber Bridge.
“Apparently when Gusto opened up in Lytham they saw my shop and that’s when it all began.
“You will have to ask them why they haven’t mentioned the name of my shop in the past six years.”
It is believed that when Gusto open a new restaurant it is standard practice for a lawyer to conduct a “sweep” of restaurant names in the area.
If another Gusto is found, a solicitor’s letter requesting a change is issued.
A spokesman for Gusto said: “Their name is in breach of our trademark and a standard solicitor’s letter has been sent to them.
“They proposed to change the name and as far as we are concerned, that is still under discussion.
“We have owned the Gusto trademark for many years and are proud of the name and what we have achieved.
“It is common sense to protect the business - and that is what trademark laws are designed to do. We are simply following the law.”
Vito, who was general manager at Paul Heathcotes restaurants in Preston and Longridge from 2002 to 2008, said he wanted to open up in Watery Lane because he was getting requests he couldn’t fulfill from Bamber Bridge for deliveries to Preston and Penwortham.
He said: “I was driving to Lytham one day and drove past the empty building. I thought it could be beautiful. That was last May - it’s taken us that long.”
Business partner Antonio Costanza, 43, said: “It’s taken a long time, it’s been a nightmare with getting planning permission, meeting all the conditions and then the issue with the name, but we’re very pleased now.
“When people come in and see the open kitchen it looks good.”
The new restaurant - in the former Ribble Cycle shops - specialises in pizza and has an open kitchen with gas-fired pizza oven.
Last night 140 people were booked in for service.
There are no current plans to open any other restaurants in the area.