>>Restaurant hijacks TGI Fridays’ branding>>
BISHKEK, Nov. 26 (The Conway Bulletin) — Barclays Pub, Kyrgyz Fried Chicken, a Burger King with a backwards ‘N’ sourced from the Russian alphabet and many others. Copyright law often seems to have passed Kyrgyzstan by.
But the faux TGI Fridays that appeared in Bishkek earlier this year was perhaps the boldest alleged violator of property rights in over two decades of Kyrgyz independence.
After the official owners of the chain launched a formal complaint against the chain, distributed in Kyrgyz media, the restaurant has been out of reach, unavailable over the telephone. Its social media, previously actively used, has been shut down completely.
“A local company without any permission from the owner of the exclusive rights [to the franchise] copied the sign of the institution, furnishings menu and even the waiters’ uniforms,” read a statement issued to Kyrgyz outlets (Nov.21).
The group’s lawyers said the owners of the chain, Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners, would prefer not to sue the owners of the Bishkek restaurant, but that they would seek legal action.
Few doubted that the restaurant was a fake. A critic of local eateries, Enot.kg, referred humorously to the “mysterious Bishkek brother of the American restaurant chain”, in its review of the place, noting that a real TGI Fridays branch would not offer clients the opportunity to smoke oriental-style water pipes as they ate steaks and burgers.
An inspection of the restaurant by a Conway Bulletin correspondent found the restaurant was still open and that, according to a waitress who refused to give her name had no plans to close.
Asked if the restaurant was related to the US chain the waitress simply said: “It should be.”
>>This story was first published in issue 210 of The Conway Bulletin newssheet.