Garden Catering vs. Wally's Chicken Coop
Contestants compete in a Wally’s Chicken Coop eating challenge. Wally’s Chicken Coop is facing a lawsuit from similar fried chicken eatery, Garden Catering. Garden Catering claims that its former employees, who now currently own and operate Wally’s, made off with company recipes, business model and trade secrets. Lindsay Collier/The Daily Campus
The State of Connecticut awaits answers in the pending lawsuit between eateries Garden Catering of Greenwich, Conn. and Wally's Chicken Coop of Storrs, Conn.
The U.S. District Court of New Haven ruled on February 22nd that the case may proceed and a trial is scheduled for mid-May.
In December 2011, Frank Carpenteri Jr. of Garden Catering filed an intellectual property case in the U.S. District Court of New Haven against brothers Michael and Jeff Natale, owners of Wally's Chicken Coop. The Natale brothers were former employees of Garden Catering who left to startup their own UConn-based eatery. The case not only claims that Wally's Chicken Coop stole recipes for Garden Catering's signature chicken nuggets, but also copied their entire business model and trade secrets.
Garden Catering points to examples such as Wally's "Topsy" breakfast sandwich, which they consider a blatant knockoff of their own "Hotsy." Both are a bacon, egg and cheese with chilli and home fries.
Garden Catering also claims that Wally's Chicken Coop has attempted to falsely associate itself with Garden Catering, through social media and also word of mouth.
In a statement released by Carpenteri and attorney James C. Riley of Whitman, Breed, Abbott & Morgan of Greenwich, Conn., Carpenti said, "They traded off the goodwill and name recognition that my family and I have worked extremely hard to create over the last 20 years."
This is not the first time Garden Catering has found itself in court. Similar intellectual property cases against Chicken Joe's in 2005 and two of Garden Catering's former locations ended in settlements.
James Doyle, lawyer for Wally's, filed a motion to dismiss the case, yet he was denied. "It 's that ridiculous. All the claims are frivolous," Doyle said. "The general public seems to think its funny, but it's a serious issue."
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