Rockland egg restaurant scrambles after name dispute
Rockland — A Main Street restaurant plans to reopen next month after being shelled by a legal challenge to its name.
Broken Egg closed temporarily last month after its owner Heather Symmt received notices from a law firm representing the restaurant chain Another Broken Egg, which is based in the Florida panhandle city of Destin. That company's website describes it as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village."
Another Broken Egg maintained that Rockland's Broken Egg was infringing on the chain's trademark.
The Rockland Broken Egg opened in May 2016. Symmt moved to the area from Texas a month before that after working the previous 20 years as an accountant.
Symmt said she received an email notice March 17 from a law firm in Minneapolis, Minn. that represents Another Broken Egg. That was followed by a March 22 letter from the same firm demanding that Broken Egg stop using the name, which Another Broken Egg had received a trademark for from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Another Broken Egg had 34 restaurants as of June 2014, according to its website. The closest to Maine is in Durham, N.C. which is 873 miles from Rockland.
Symmt said she closed the restaurant a week after receiving the notice, saying that legally Another Broken Egg has the right to object to her use of the name. She said, however, she took offense to the letter's insinuation that she was trying to take advantage of Another Broken Egg's reputation.
Symmt said she came up with Broken Egg after brainstorming one night.
"I'm a small, independent shop. My menu is not close to their menu. My logo is not close to their logo," she said.
The letter stated that she is prohibited from using Broken Egg, Broke Egg and Break the Egg along with Another Broken Egg.
Symtt said she decided to temporarily close to allow her time to decide a new name for the restaurant, get new menus printed, a new sign, and new social media sites. She said she also has t-shirts with Broken Egg on it.
"I've got a few mediums left if anyone is interested," she said.
The cost of changes will be a couple thousand dollars, Symmt said, in addition to the loss of business during the shutdown.
Symmt said she will be talking with a small group of creative people in the area to come up with a new name. She said she will also have a trademark search conducted.
The temporary closure came at a good time, however, since March and April are slower months for restaurants. Symmt said her goal is to have the restaurant at 421 Main St. reopened by May 18, which would be the first anniversary of when Broken Egg opened.
Another Broken Egg was established in 1996, according to its website. The original Broken Egg Cafe opened in Old Mandeville, La., in a century-old cottage built of barge wood, according to its website.
Another Broken Egg Chief Marketing Officer Jan Barnett said Monday in an email response, "Another Broken Egg of America, Inc. owns longstanding nationwide rights in its trademarks Another Broken Egg Cafe and Broken Egg. Like any trademark owner, we must take action to protect our legal rights and our franchisees’ business investment from infringement. Here, we did ask Broken Egg, LLC to cease infringing our marks. Shortly thereafter, its attorney responded, stating, 'Broken Egg, LLC is currently closed due to equipment issues and has decided to use this closure as an opportunity to rebrand their bistro.'”