HomeJapanese AmericanA Sushi restaurant says something's fishy and sues
Don't Be Fooled by Gift Card Scams

A Sushi restaurant says something’s fishy and sues

Yuji Haraguchi, owner of the New York City sushi business Osakana, recently filed a lawsuit against Wegmans for the fish market inside its Astor Place location, claiming that it is a knock off of his small business nearby. 

In what can be described as a David vs Goliath battle, Haraguchi claims that three companies–Culimer USA, Red Shell Sushi and Culinary Collaborations– stole his trade secrets and shared them with Wegmans when they sought to buy his restaurant, reported local station PIX11 News. 

According to a change.org petition started by Haraguchi, he was first contacted last August by Wegman’s fish broker Culinary Collaboration, when he was thinking about selling his business in preparation for moving to Hawaii. At the time, he signed non-disclosure and non-compete agreements with Culinary Collaboration, after which he disclosed his “trade secrets, practices, and all the financial information” and invited them to his restaurant where they took his “sushi class.”

In October, Haraguchi was surprised to receive a text message from a customer that read: “Yuji! Congratulations on opening OSAKANA in Wegman.”

By then, Haraguchi had not heard more from Culinary Collaboration or Wegmans about new business developments. In November, he received a simple email from them informing him that they will no longer proceed with the deal.

The fish market Sakayana inside Wegmans is the first ever Japanese seafood shop inside this chain that operates over 100 stores. The name Sakayana translates literally to “fish market,” which Haraguchi claims is especially confusing for Japanese customers who are familiar with Osakana as the Japanese “fish market.”

Haraguchi also finds the font of the logo strikingly similar to his, in addition to the store’s proximity to Osakana, both central to his argument that Wegmans is violating common-law trademark rights. 

The bombardment from Wegman’s advertising efforts have also affected business for Haraguchi. An ad in the newspaper Japion claimed that Sakayana is the “the first Japanese fish market in NYC,” which Haraguchi claims is untrue.

According to Grub Street, Haraguchi’s lawyers filed a lawsuit alleging that Wegmans and its business partners have committed fraud, trademark infringement, breach of contract, and more. He is seeking no less than $1 million in damages.

“Surviving in NYC as a small business, immigrant, and minority owner is incredibly challenging. Many times, I thought about closing my businesses, but I never gave up because customers kept supporting my businesses,” wrote Haraguchi in the change.org petition.

A representative of Wegmans told PIX11 News that they are aware of the lawsuit and confident that the claims are unfounded.

“At Wegmans, we are committed to offering our customers the freshest, highest-quality seafood in our stores.  We are proud of our 14+ year relationship with Uoriki, which has elevated our seafood and sushi program across the company, including at our Astor Place store.  We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed against us regarding our fish market, SAKANAYA, within our Astor Place store.  We are confident that the claims against Wegmans are without merit.”

However, Haraguchi has demonstrated that he will not roll over easily either.

“They can keep selling fish, no problem, as long as they make arrangements with me,” he told Grub Street. “But there is no discussion right now. They think I’ll just go away, but that’s not going to happen.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest

Worth the Time

Must Read

Regular Features

Latest

Discover more from AsAmNews

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading