Jehangir Mehta on Winning the Graffit/Graffiti Dispute: ‘I Hope People Will Feel Sorry for Us’
Yesterday we told you that Jesús Nuñez had decided to change the name of his Upper West Side restaurant Graffit after Jehangir Mehta filed a lawsuit over similarities to his downtown spot, Graffiti. As can happen in these situations, it's often the injured party that looks sympathetic, so we wondered how Mehta was planning on handling any bad PR that might be headed his way. "I'm sure he is talented and he is going to get sympathy and I myself feel very sorry for him," Mehta told Grub Street. "But I hope people will feel sorry for us as well. In fact, for us it was worse. Normally when people win a case they get something, but we got zero money. And he has a bigger investor than I do." Mehta says that just last week a food writer got confused and wound up at Graffit by mistake, and, he maintains that if he were more famous, his desire to preserve his name would have been taken more seriously. "If someone opened a place called Nougatine, Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] would be after him immediately. Would anyone feel sympathy for the guy who called his new place Nougatine?"
As for Nuñez, he tells us he's just confused by the whole situation. "If I am looking for an Indian-influenced restaurant on the Lower East Side, how could I wind up at my place?" he wondered. "What exactly is the problem?" Even still, he confirms that his decision to change the name was based on the costs associated with the legal battle. "I don't have any more money to spend on the stupid thing," he told us. "I already spent $30,000, and I was told it would have cost $100,000 and I only had a 50 percent chance of winning." So, how'd he arrive at the new name, Gastroarte? He says it's a fusion of "food" and "art," the way Graffit was a "fusion of art and the phonetic sound of eat." Plus, he tells us, "I also picked Gastroarte because it had some of the same letters."