One of the most famous names in the Capital Region catering and hospitality industry is at the heart of a federal trademark lawsuit.
The corporate owner of Mazzone Hospitality LLC is suing Matthew Mazzone for setting up an operation similar to the one founded by his father, Angelo Mazzone, and running it under the family name.
Compass Group and Mazzone Hospitality LLC filed a lawsuit Monday in Albany against Matthew Mazzone; his venture, Mazzone Wedding Group LLC; and his wife, Suzy Mazzone, alleging unfair competition, trademark dilution and deceptive trade practices.
The plaintiffs seek monetary damages as well as a cease and desist order.
Angelo and Matthew Mazzone did not return requests for comment for this story. Neither did the attorney representing the plaintiffs.
Mazzone Hospitality had humble beginnings in the 1980s and grew into a dominating restaurant/hospitality operation. Among his holdings was the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. A subsidiary of Compass acquired it in 2017, renamed it Mazzone Hospitality LLC, and left Angelo Mazzone at the helm. Mazzone Hospitality LLC’s website currently lists him as “founder.”
Mazzone Wedding Group is much newer. Matthew Mazzone, a longtime employee of Mazzone Hospitality under both owners, reportedly set out on his own in 2020 and began operations in earnest early this year.
The business’ website advertises full-service wedding and event planning, including catering. It says:
“Matt Mazzone is well known in the Hospitality Industry. Former CFO & COO of Mazzone Hospitality, Matt Mazzone has what it takes to now take this new company to the next level. Matt’s strengths in finance, building a team and growing companies is unparalleled to most. Joining the family business at a young age Matt grew to love and respect the hard work, passion and level of dedication it takes to operate a hospitality company. His passion is hospitality and he is now dedicated to giving the community a family owned and operated catering company that is built on values, family and community.”
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, the plaintiffs state and allege that:
- They own “the marks’’ — the names, trademarks, insignias, logos and designations — for “Mazzone Hospitality” and “Mazzone Catering.”
- Mathew and Suzy Mazzone have started a competing wedding and events group under the names Mazzone Wedding Group and Mazzone Weddings.
- Promotional material calls it family-owned and operated and cites Matthew Mazzone’s prior experience with Mazzone Hospitality.
- This is unlawful misappropriation and if it continues, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable damage.
- Angelo Mazzone entered the restaurant business in 1980 when he bought Peggy’s in Schenectady; expanded with the purchase of the Glen Sanders restaurant in Scotia in 1988; expanded into off-site catering, and grew it into a culinary empire that had exclusive catering contracts at many top venues in the region.
- Angelo Mazzone’s sale of his hospitality and catering business included all rights to the brand and its trademarks, specifically including the trade names Mazzone Catering and Mazzone Hospitality.
- Matthew Mazzone’s employment agreement with Compass included a prohibition on him competing with the plaintiffs or soliciting their customers, should he leave the company.
- When Matthew Mazzone left Mazzone Hospitality LLC around April 7, 2020, he signed a separation agreement that prohibited him from soliciting plaintiffs’ customers for a competing business for 18 months.
- A week later, he registered the domain name MazzoneWeddings.com.
- Matthew and Suzy Mazzone launched the new company in early 2021, he as president and owner, she as vice president.
- The confusingly similar name is an attempt to trade off of and take a free ride upon the goodwill in the Mazzone brand; their marketing clearly shows an attempt to create such an association.
- The plaintiffs’ attorney sent Matthew Mazzone letters on March 10, reminding him of his contractual obligations; on March 22, asking him to stop using the Mazzone name in connection with any catering business in New York; and on May 7, asking him to change the name and warning of legal action if he did not.
The plaintiffs seek:
- An accounting of all gains, profits, savings and advantages the defendants have gained by trading under the Mazzone name;
- Legal costs;
- Punitive damages, statutory damages of $1,000 per violation and payment of triple the sum of actual damages incurred by the plaintiffs;
- A preliminary and a permanent injunction from using any name, mark or designation similar to the plaintiffs’ Mazzone marks; from claiming any association with the plaintiffs; and from otherwise competing unfairly with the plaintiffs;
- An order that the defendants recall from distribution any marketing or promotional items that would violate the injunction, and deliver them to be destroyed.