May 8, 2024 - News

Popular Philadelphia sandwich shop Middle Child fights to keep name

Philly's Middle Child owner Matt Cahn, check in hand, with chef Edwin De La Rosa, right, on "Good Morning America."

Middle Child owner Matt Cahn, check in hand, with chef Edwin De La Rosa, right, after winning the "Good Morning America" best breakfast challenge. Photo: Courtesy of Middle Child (the one in Philly)

Middle Child wants to start slinging its beloved sandwiches across the states, but the Philly cult-favorite's plans could be complicated by a food fight with an upcoming Las Vegas restaurant.

Why it matters: There can only be one Middle Child in any family and also in this legal scrape over who has first dibs on the establishment name.

Driving the news: Philly's Middle Child, which opened in 2017 and has received high praise from some of the nation's biggest news outlets, filed a federal lawsuit in Nevada this week accusing Las Vegas' Middle Child of trademark infringement.

  • They argue their new competitors are confusing customers and not allowing them to use their name to grow into a national chain.

State of play: Middle Child has a sandwich shop in Center City and a full restaurant in Fishtown, with plans to break ground in the coming months on a third location at the Philadelphia International Airport.

  • They're hoping to eventually open sandwich shops at airports in Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles, per the lawsuit.

What they're saying: "If these dummies out in Vegas (who we have absolutely no affiliation with) think they can ride our coat tails of 7 years of hard work and our good SEO they have another thing coming," the Philly sandwich shop wrote in an Instagram post two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Middle Child in Las Vegas — the latest concept from the restaurateur behind renowned bar Herbs & Rye — proposed an agreement that would've allowed the Philly shop to continue using the name at all its city locations while the Sin City group used the name nationally.

Catch up quick: The fight began last year when the Philly sandwich shop learned that Las Vegas' Middle Child, slated to open this spring, had applied for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Middle Child in Philly staked claim to the name in a cease-and-desist letter fired off to its competitor. They argue they've spent years building their reputation, including by winning the "Good Morning America" crown for best breakfast.

What they're saying: Jonathan Rich, an attorney for Philly's Middle Child, wrote in the complaint his client has a right to the name under the Lanham Act, regardless of who filed for the trademark first.

  • He accused Middle Child in Las Vegas of filing a false sworn statement with USPTO claiming no one else was using the name.

The other side: Stephen Bean, attorney for Middle Child in Las Vegas, didn't respond to Axios' request for comment.

What's ahead: The Philly sandwich shop has asked a judge to issue a ruling that bars the Las Vegas restaurant from continuing to use the Middle Child name.

  • They're seeking unspecified damages and attorneys' fees.
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