In fight over Stubb’s brand, how a spice-and-sauce company came out on top

In a world where restaurants and chef culture seem to rule the food industry, how did a spice company beat a storied restaurant and live music venue?

That was the case this week when Stubb’s, which runs one of the most popular stages in downtown Austin, lost the rights to use the name to a company that makes grocery store products.

MORE: Stubb’s restaurants, music venue changing names to settle lawsuit

Longtime Austin barbecue sauce brand Stubb’s won a recent trademark dispute with the downtown restaurant and live music venue Stubb’s. Mark Matson / American-Statesman

How’d that happen?

Well, Stubb’s barbecue sauce is sold in nearly every grocery store in the country, and so are McCormick spices, marinades and sauces.

When McCormick and Co. bought Stubb’s for $100 million two years ago, the Maryland-based food expanded its presence in a lucrative section of the grocery store and it also stepped into a trademark battle with the restaurant Stubb’s that ended yesterday with the spice-and-sauce company coming out on top.

Stubb’s has been an iconic venue and restaurant downtown for decades, and host to events including Rachael Ray’s popular SXSW show, but it will now be phasing out the name. Addie Broyles.

After the restaurant company Stubb’s opened up new locations outside its venerable downtown space, the McCormick-owned One World sued, saying the expansion was a violation of an oral agreement between the two parties.

Gary Dinges reported on Thursday that the consumer packaged good (or CPG) company and the restaurant company had come to an agreement: the iconic stage and restaurant would drop the Stubb’s name.

The suit, according to One World, was “mutually resolved,” although specific terms — aside from the impending name change — weren’t disclosed. The agreement will allow “the restaurant and venue to live on and allow the Stubb’s brand of products to expand and grow,” One World said in a written statement provided to the Statesman.

“The parties ultimately agreed that going forward, One World Foods will have the exclusive ownership and right to use the Stubb’s brand,” One World said. “Stubb’s Austin Restaurant Company will be phasing out its use and display of the various Stubb’s trademarks.”

We don’t yet know what the owners of the restaurants are going to call their new business, but One World, which employs two of C.B. Stubblefield’s grandsons, will keep the headquarters in Austin.

One World also announced it was considering opening its own line of Stubb’s restaurants.

A grocery giant getting into the restaurant business? That’s a twist to this ever-intertwining food industry that I hadn’t seen coming.

 

 

 

 


View Comments 0