As the Mallozzi family prepares to open an Albany version of the iconic Brown Derby restaurant, the list of people fighting for the rights to its name is growing.
The Schenectady restaurateurs in November unveiled plans to convert a former Salvation Army building on Clinton Avenue into a Hollywood Brown Derby. But whether the restaurant will open under that name remains to be seen because two other companies are also pursuing legal protections for the “Brown Derby” mark.
Robert Mallozzi last June applied to trademark the name “Hollywood Brown Derby” and a design featuring a derby-style hat with “The Brown Derby” written in it.
A day after Mallozzi sent his applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a Hudson, Ohio, company associated with the Brown Derby Roadhouse chain also applied for a “Brown Derby” trademark. The Ohio company, RTS Consultants, won legal protections for “Girves Brown Derby” trademarks in 2002.
Last week, the Trademark Office received another application for “The Brown Derby” from Brooke Anderson, a Los Angeles restaurateur. When contacted by phone Friday, Anderson said she is the granddaughter of the Brown Derby’s founder. She would not elaborate further on her plans for that venture or her family background.
The three restaurateurs from coast to coast are vying to control a name with deep roots in the golden age of Hollywood. The original Brown Derby, which was shaped like its namesake hat, gained its fame by creating the Shirley Temple and Cobb salad and serving famous actors.
But Robert Mallozzi said he will open the Brown Derby-themed restaurant whether or not he wins the trademark battle. In November, he said it would feature booths and caricature paintings from the original L.A. landmark. The restaurant’s name might be tweaked, possibly to the Original Hollywood Derby.
“Either way, it’s not going to impact our plans,” said Mallozzi, whose Mallozzi Group runs Mallozzi’s Belvedere Hotel, Villa Italia Pasticceria and Mallozzi’s Banquet & Ballrooms in Schenectady County.
Between 1926 and 1975, four Brown Derby restaurants operated in the L.A. area. In 1989, the franchise’s last restaurant closed in Pasadena, Calif. Disney Corp. that year opened its own version of the Brown Derby at its MGM Studios theme park in Florida.
At the November news conference, Mallozzi said he started in 1998 discussing the Albany restaurant with Walter Scharfe, who in 1975 acquired the remaining Brown Derby restaurants around L.A. Scharfe died shortly after those negotiations started, but he supported the Albany proposal, said Mallozzi.
The Brown Derby was founded by Herbert Somborn and Bob Cobb. It is not clear to whom Anderson is related, though a Los Angeles history Web site notes a Gloria Somborn Anderson was involved in the business in the 1950s.
The Mallozzi Group is spending $1.2 million on the 138-seat Hollywood Brown Derby. That investment comes on top of the $2 million BCI and M.M. Hayes Co., Mallozi’s development partners, spent on the three-story, long-vacant Salvation Army building, which is near the Palace Theatre.