Taste of Persia NYC chef and owner Saeed Pourkay says he’s been the victim of restaurant identity theft.
On Friday, the Flatiron’s beloved pocket Persian restaurant was forced to close after eight years of operating from the front window of Pizza Paradise on 18th Street. On Saturday, a dopplegänger stall called Tasty Persia NYC emerged in its place, featuring a nearly identical design and menu. Pourkay alleges Pizza Paradise’s owner stole his brand, and the literal soup out of his pot.
In a Facebook video posted yesterday shot outside Pizza Paradise, Pourkay says that “in a matter of a day, he ruined my life. After eight years working so hard, he stole everything from me.”
Pourkay tells Grub Street that when he returned to the store on Sunday to retrieve some remaining equipment — including a pot of ash reshteh Pourkay had leftover in his refrigerator — he was barred from entering the store. “Thursday and Friday I was cooking all day because everyone was coming for their last meal. [Pizza Paradise] bought new chafing dishes just like mine,” he says, and are now serving his leftovers along with other Persian dishes.
Fouad Jaber, one of the people who purchased Pizza Paradise last fall and declined to renew Taste of Persia’s lease, denies that the stall is a copycat business. He tells Grub Street that the name Tasty Persia NYC is temporary, until he can rebrand with a new name and logo. “We have some Persian food … I have Middle Eastern food too,” he wrote via text message last night, before explaining that he doesn’t view Pourkay as having exclusive rights to cook Persian food in New York. He added, “I have the right to sell what I want in my store.” Jaber continues that since Taste of Persia’s closing has been widely reported by the press, he can’t be accused of attempting to steal Pourkay’s customers.
Despite those claims, co-owner Thogan Magableh tells Eater that the new stall is already closed, following the uproar. Grub Street has reached out to Pourkay and Jaber for further comment about the closing.
Three days ago, Pourkay created a GoFundMe page to launch a new Persian restaurant of his own; as of Monday morning he’s raised over $11,000 of a target $95,000.