Craft Art Bar, an innovative, art-space-meets-speakeasy coming to 2732 Cherokee Street this spring, has been one of the most hotly anticipated new hangouts in St. Louis. But some people, upon hearing its name, were anticipating something else -- a cease-and-desist letter from celebrity chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio.
Colicchio, of Top Chef fame, owns Craft, CraftBar and CraftSteak, along with other restaurants under the umbrella name Craft New York. And he has not been shy about defending his legal right to the word "craft." His attorneys leaned on restaurants in San Francisco, Wisconsin and, locally, in Edwardsville, Illinois, for names like Crafthouse (now Caskhouse), Craft Table & Tap (now Craftsman Table & Tap) and Craft Chophouse (now 1818 Chophouse).
So local observers had to wonder: Would "Craft Art Bar" suffer the same fate?
Former Post-Dispatch food critic Evan Benn raised the issue when Craft Chophouse opened in Edwardsville in 2012. Our own local celebrity chef, Gerard Craft, weighed in on the issue at the time via Twitter:
Current P-D critic Ian Froeb followed up when the name changed to 1818 Chophouse, though the owners wouldn't say explicitly whether Colicchio was behind it.
About two weeks ago, Gut Check sent Craft Art Bar owner Tatyana Telnikova links to these stories and asked if she was concerned at all about possible legal action over the name. She wrote back that she was "alarmed" and would have to look into it with her attorney. This morning, a tipster alerted us that Craft Art Bar is now simply "Art Bar" -- and a visit to the business' Facebook page reveals a new logo.
We've reached out to Telnikova to find out more about what motivated the name change. Maybe it's just a coincidence? More as we learn it.