State College

State College, Blairsville restaurants in legal battle over Clem’s trademark

CDT file photo

A local restaurant’s name has left a sour taste in the mouths of a distant eatery’s owners.

Clem’s Cafe, of Blairsville, filed a lawsuit Friday against Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill and The Autoport, of State College, for trademark infringement.

The lawsuit claims that Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill uses its name to create the false impression that it is affiliated with the Blairsville cafe. The lawsuit also says Clem’s Cafe contacted the defendants to demand that trademark infringement of the name “Clem’s” cease, and that the defendants rejected the request.

Greg Mussi and Lynda Mussi, the Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill co-owners, said they did receive letters in the late spring to drop the name. When they sought their attorney’s advice they were told they could continue to legally use the name Clem’s.

The Mussis also said they have not been served the lawsuit yet.

“The lawsuit is not that much of a surprise to us, because we received a letter months ago,” Greg Mussi said. “You have to let the courts handle it.”

Clem’s Cafe seeks monetary damages from the defendants and asks the defendants to discontinue using the name Clem’s.

The suit listed the Piedmont Food Co., Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill and Don C. Meyer as the defendants.

Meyer has not owned The Autoport since November 2007, when the Mussis and Kathy Punt bought it from him. The motel and restaurant operated under the name The Autoport for the next six years and two months.

The Mussis said they bought the name Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill from the state in November 2013 and began using it in January 2014 for the restaurant.

The state Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations, which licenses names, was closed Monday and could not be reached for comment.

The Mussis came up with the name for the restaurant when Clem Pantalone collaborated with the Mussis to be a part of the restaurant about a year ago.

Pantalone founded the original Clem’s Cafe in Blairsville in 1995 and left the operation in 1998 for his ex-wife Kathleen Andrews to run.

Clem’s Cafe co-owners Paul Grguric and Andrews did not return requests for comment.

Pantalone opened Clem’s BBQ in Port Matilda in 1999 and moved it 10 years later to locations in State College and Grazierville in Blair County. He closed Clem’s BBQ in 2012. He said he was not served any lawsuits from 1999 to 2012 to drop the name Clem’s.

Pantalone is still an employee at Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill but, according to the company’s owners, he does not have a financial stake in the operation.

The lawsuit was filed just days before the TV show “Hotel Impossible” will feature The Autoport on the Travel Channel. That episode will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

The show was filmed June 4.