Vancouver strata blocks Moby Dick franchise from opening over 'offensive' name, lawsuit alleges
Fish and chips restaurant named for famous novel says strata council deemed branding and signage inappropriate
A Vancouver business is suing its strata corporation for refusing to allow the opening of a Moby Dick fish and chips franchise location, due in part to an "offensive" word in the restaurant's name.
According to a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, L&H Trading Corp. leased a commercial property on Denman Street in Vancouver's Coal Harbour, where it previously operated The Change, an Asian fusion restaurant.
L&H hit hard financial times in early 2016, so, in May, it sold its restaurant business to Moby Dick, a fish and chips restaurant in White Rock named for the famous novel by Herman Melville about a giant white whale.
But just before Moby Dick was to take over the property, court documents allege the building's strata council refused to allow the restaurant to open for a number of reasons — one of which was the restaurant name contained the word "dick," an "offensive term."
Restaurant would 'harm' building image
According to the lawsuit, the strata felt the restaurant would "harm the image" of the building and would decrease property values.
The strata was also allegedly concerned about increased litter and odours associated with a fish-and-chips restaurant.
L&H alleges in the suit that Moby Dick proposed numerous sign changes and renovations, but that the strata council turned down anything resembling the restaurant's original logo, insisting on something "'minimalist' both in colour and design."
The plaintiffs say the ongoing back-and-forth with the strata resulted in unnecessary delays that lost them potential rental income, and that the strata council violated its own bylaws in refusing the restaurant.
In the lawsuit, L&H asks the court to resolve the dispute and also asks to be compensated for the lost income.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Yuriy Makogonsky, owner of Moby Dick, declined to comment while the matter is before the courts but said the Coal Harbour location would have been the first in a series of planned franchise locations for the White Rock restaurant.
The strata corporation also declined to comment. Its statement of defence has not yet been filed.