Oak Harbor’s Hot Rock Pizza draws fire for name, logo

Oak Harbor restaurant owner Reid Schwartz stands in front of a gas-fired oven in Hot Rock Pizza. The name and logo he uses resulted in a threatening letter from The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen attorneys.

Owners of The Rock Wood Fire Kitchen is demanding that Hot Rock Pizza in Oak Harbor stop using its name and logo.

The western North American chain, with more than 20 stores from Texas to Alaska, operates The Rock under umbrella company Keep Rockin’ LLC. Twelve of the restaurants are in Washington state, according to their website.

“Keep Rockin’ is concerned that your client’s use of so similar a mark for services identical to Keep Rockin’s restaurant services is likely to result in confusion among consumers,” states a letter sent on behalf of Keep Rockin’ LLC by Seattle law firm Miller Nash Graham & Dunn.

“We therefore demand that you cease and desist your use of the term ‘rock’ and the flame motif virtually identical to our client’s.”

Schwartz said Sunday that he had not spoken yet with Keep Rockin’ representatives, but he was in communication with the Washington Restaurant Association to see if the threat has any teeth.

Schwartz said the initial feedback he’s gotten from the WRA lawyers is positive.

“They’re on crack,” Schwartz said, referring to the chain restaurant. “You can’t patent the word ‘rock.’”

A phone call to the WRA was not returned by press time.

For the past five years, Hot Rock Pizza has been a regular vendor at farmers markets, festivals and private parties as a wood-fired food truck.

Schwartz said he may have gotten on The Rock’s radar because Hot Rock Pizza was ranked 24th by King 5’s Best of Western Washington. In addition, if “rock pizza” is Googled, Schwartz’s listing comes in first, The Rock in second.

While the two establishments share the pizza and wood-fired themes, The Rock Wood Fire Kitchen has a more diverse menu with steak, burgers and “Rocktails,” according to its website.

In addition, Schwartz pointed out that he opted for gas-fired ovens in his brick-and-mortar restaurant for permitting reasons. His food truck remains wood-fired.

According to their attorneys, Rockin’ LLC believes the similarities are too great.

“Such confusion is of no benefit to either party,” the attorneys sated in their letter.

Hot Rock will be granted a “phase out” period only if they issue a written reply by Feb. 3, according to the letter.

Despite the demand, Schwartz said he has no beef with The Rock and has been to eat there twice.

“I like the way they are set up,” Schwartz said. “My pizza’s better though.”

A phone call to Keep Rockin’ lawyers was not returned by press time.