When Hanco’s opened on Seventh Avenue back in February, it was the only bánh mì joint in the neighborhood. Last week, though, Henry’s set up shop just four blocks away— and the menu seemed like a blatant knockoff, right down to the items, food descriptions, font, colors, and layout (you can see for yourself below). According to Hanco’s owner Hanco Tang, the owners of Henry’s are former employees who left his store in the past two weeks — he fired one, and the other one quit days later. Tang had no idea that two of his employees were moving in down the street — and from what he claims, the furtive enterprisers were keeping busy in their final weeks of employment.
One of them, Tang says, had been sabotaging Hanco’s. “I found out from my staff that he purposely made bad sandwiches. He put cold meat in the bread without heating it up. He would put a lot of extra mayo.” A number of Tang’s family recipes, which were left in the open, also went missing, and Tang isn’t afraid to point fingers. He says the owners of Henry’s have tried to buy bread from his faithful supplier, and were promptly denied. They also tried to recruit one of Tang’s sandwich-makers, unsuccessfully. (Though they did woo over a bubble-tea barista.) “If they were to change their name and get their own menu, I wouldn’t be so pissed off,” Tang says. “Why don’t you create your own menu and try to do something so nobody will look at you and say copycat?”
We spoke to Henry Huynh, one of the owners of Henry’s. His response? “Just because the menu is the same doesn’t mean the recipe is the same. We have more bubble tea, we added some stuff — smoothies, sandwiches. That doesn’t mean we have the same recipe.”