A long-standing dispute between the owners of two Chinese restaurants bearing the same name has made its way beyond Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood and into Cook County Court.
For more than three years, Triple Crown Restaurant at 2217 S. Wentworth and Original Triple Crown Restaurant at 211 W. 22nd Place have existed within one block of each other in Chinatown. The two establishments are not related, but Triple Crown once operated out of the 22nd Place location, for more than a decade, before moving to Wentworth in 2009.
The family that owns Triple Crown alleges in a complaint filed in Cook County Court Tuesday that the owners of Original Triple Crown are confusing customers into thinking that the two establishments are related.
“The customers are confused, and the confusion is hurting the business,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint, which seeks damages of more than $50,000 and asks that the court prevent the owners of Original Triple Crown from using the Triple Crown Restaurant name “or any version thereof.”
Ling Ling Tin opened the Triple Crown establishment on 22nd Place in 1996, according to the complaint. Tin eventually passed the business down to her sons, who established a family restaurant company and opened another Triple Crown around the corner, on Wentworth, in 2009. The family kept the two locations going for a few months, but eventually shut down the 22nd Place location, managing owner Spencer Ng said in an interview.
A few months later, Original Triple Crown Restaurant appeared at the 22nd Place storefront.
“At first it was like, my mom didn’t want to cause any trouble,” Ng said. “But then the more I thought about it, we’re trying to brand ourselves and if somebody has a bad experience (at Original Triple Crown,) they’re going to say, ‘Triple Crown’s a bad restaurant.’ ”
The family spent years trying to resolve the dispute out of court, Ng said. But “crazy stories” have spread in the meantime, like a rumor that the two restaurants are the result of a family feud.
“We’d just like to clarify that it’s different restaurants, different establishments, different owners,” Ng said.
A woman who answered the phone at Original Triple Crown Restaurant on Tuesday night said that she was not aware of the lawsuit and declined to comment further.
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