BY ALEXANDRA ZUCCARO
In front of Selena Rosa on Second Avenue, owner Sammy Musovic and manager Armando Martado raised a Mexican flag on Sept. 16.
The act, on Mexican independence day, was doubly significant: It also celebrated the restaurant’s settlement against the Rosa Mexicano’s chain of eateries, which in a cease-and-desist letter had alleged that the restaurant’s name – at the time Selena Rosa Mexicana – constituted trademark infringement and unfair competition.
After much deliberation, Musovic agreed to omit “Mexicana” from their name, and simply be called “Selena Rosa” moving forward.
“We do have the Selena Rosa trademark, so fortunate for us we were allowed to keep that,” he said. “We are raising the flag as a celebration. We feel that we won this.”
Loyal customers also attended the festivities. Elliot Hurdy has been going to Selena Rosa since it opened near 89th Street 15 years ago, and was glad that a settlement had been reached. Because the establishment has so many regulars, Hurdy didn’t believe that the name change would affect business.
“People come to a restaurant not for the name, but for the food. And the food is great,” he said.
Hurdy speculated that Rosa Mexicano took legal action not because of the similar names, but because they were threatened by the competition. Besides Rosa Mexicano’s flagship establishment, on First Avenue near 58th Street, the chain has four other restaurants in New York, as well as locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Dubai and elsewhere.
“Obviously it’s the best food in New York City, because they [Rosa Mexicano] wouldn’t want to go through all this trouble for one little restaurant,” Hurdy said. “So the reason is they thought maybe they could put them out. And not only did they not put them out, but he’s [Musovic] getting busier and busier.”
Rosa Mexicano’s corporate office could not be reached for comment.
Musovic, however, suggested that the settlement ended civilly. He is pleased that Selena Rosa now has their own identity, and wished Rosa Mexicano continued success. He even proposed that its owners stop by the restaurant for margaritas.
“I think we should have a drink together with the owner of Rosa Mexicano,” he said. “He should join me here for some margaritas so we can both move on and continue doing what we do best.”