Small bites: Winemaking giant forces name change for local food business

NAME GAME: Susan Devitt, left, and Tom Gallo, right, recently had to change the name of their Asheville-based pizza kit company from GalloLea to BelloLea under pressure from international wine producer E.&J. Gallo. Photo by John Warner courtesy BelloLea Artisan Kitchen

Another local small business has been forced to yield to the power of a large corporation. GalloLea Pizza Kits, owned by husband-and-wife team Tom Gallo and Susan Devitt, recently changed its name to BelloLea Artisan Kitchen as it joined the list of independent Asheville businesses affected by trademark infringement actions from national and international companies.

The name change follows a cease-and-desist order filed against GalloLea in December 2012 by the California-based E.&J. Gallo Winery, one of the largest wine producers in the world. Because the two companies make completely different products and their brands were trademarked in two totally different categories, Devitt says she and her husband initially felt that they had a fighting chance to keep the name which, she says, was very close to their hearts.

“We loved [the name GalloLea], and it was real personal because it’s Tom’s name, Gallo,” she says, adding that the name had special meaning because the company’s pizza kit was created using Gallo’s grandmother’s beloved sauce recipe.

Devitt says that after more than a year of frustration and legal wrangling that cost them about $15,000, she and Gallo finally gave up in the face of a battle with no end in sight. “Even if we had won in the trademark court — and we probably could have with probably another at least $50,000 — they could still go to federal court and sue us for copyright infringement. There was just no end to it.”

The new BelloLea packaging looks very similar to the GalloLea brand, and Devitt says she hopes for as smooth a transition as possible. But the new design, she says, has cost about $140,000, and changing the company’s URL and online presence has wasted years of work she had invested in marketing efforts. The winery refused a request from the couple to help pay for the cost of rebranding and repackaging.

In 2012, two other Asheville small businesses, food market Amazing Savings and home-and-garden shop Small Terrain, were forced to change their names in a similar fashion. Amazing Savings changed its name to Hopey & Co. despite having a North Carolina trademark after a run-in with the New York-based retail chain Simply Amazing. Small Terrain had to rebrand as Villagers after the multinational clothing corporation Urban Outfitters notified the owners that it held the trademark on the word “terrain” in multiple categories.

Devitt says although she and Gallo felt blindsided by the situation, they are now focusing on catching up and moving forward. But are they bitter about the experience?

“Well, I don’t know if you can ever really get over an unjustness,” she says, after giving the question some thought. “But they are a big company, and I guess that’s just the way big business does business.”


Mornings at Urban Orchard Cider Co.

Soon Urban Orchard Cider Co. could become the new pre-lunch hangout spot on Haywood Road. The company’s marketing and creative director, Jeff Anderson, told Xpress in an email that Urban Orchard has invested in “the finest equipment, baristas and product to set us up for some fantastic beverages.” According to Anderson, two roasters will be featured: Espresso will be from the locally popular Athens, Ga.-based1000 Faces, and drip coffee will be from Pennycup, a new roasting company started by BattleCat Coffee Bar owner Amber Arthur. No launch date has been released yet for the new service. More details are to come.


Nightbell rolls out dinner service

Nightbell, the upscale cocktail spot opened a few months ago by husband-and-wife team Felix Meana and Katie Button, is expanding to offer a full dinner menu. Known as Nightbell Restaurant & Lounge starting Wednesday, July 9, the restaurant will offer, according to a press release, “Chef Button’s modern interpretation of traditional American food served small-plate-style, sophisticated craft cocktails with hand-carved ice, unique wines from all over the world, and innovative music from across the Atlantic and around the corner.” The menu promises everything from build-your-own burgers to chilled corn soup with sea urchin, as well as desserts such as salty praline peanut butter cake, tobacco-infused chocolate cake and a bourbon-spiked root beer float. Dinner, desserts and snacks are served all night long. Dinner items will be in the $10-$24 range. Desserts will run $9-$10. Reservations are accepted, but walk-ins are welcome.

32 S. Lexington Ave. 5 p.m.-midnight Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.




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