A Luger steakhouse will not be coming to North Palm Beach after all.
Also not coming anytime soon: A new village clubhouse where the restaurant was supposed to operate.
Carl Von Luger Steak & Seafood, a Scranton, Pa.-based restaurant, was slated to open fine dining and casual restaurants at the soon-to-be revamped North Palm Beach clubhouse. But then the famous Peter Luger Steak House of New York sued Carl Von Luger in federal court for trademark infringement. The lawsuit settled this month, with Carl Von Luger agreeing to change its name.
Meanwhile, the village of North Palm Beach last month terminated its clubhouse agreement with Carl Von Luger’s operator, Robert Dickert, based in part on the name issue, town manager Andrew Lukasik said.
The move comes as the village realized it would cost $2.5 million more than the $15 million budgeted to build the 42,000-square-foot clubhouse. A new clubhouse design, as well as a new restaurant operator, both must be selected.
As a result, the timing of a new clubhouse is uncertain. The clubhouse at 951 U.S. Highway 1 was slated to be torn down after July 4, with a new clubhouse ready by December 2018. But now it’s unlikely that the demolition will begin before October, Lukasik said.
The turn of events is a disappointment to the town of North Palm Beach. “I think everyone was excited about moving forward,” Lukasik said.
Lukasik said Carl Von Luger’s prospectus to the village in June 2016 extolled its connection to the Peter Luger brand and its “age old family tradition.” Zagat has rated the Peter Luger Steak House the No. 1 steak house in New York for 28 years in a row.
But the thrill of a Luger eatery started to fade for North Palm Beach on May 19. That’s when Peter Luger Inc. filed a federal lawsuit claiming Carl Von Luger was ripping off the Peter Luger name and reputation. Peter Luger’s said it didn’t know about Carl Von Luger until a May 4 Palm Beach Post article about the Carl Von Luger deal in North Palm Beach, a deal that created buzz among Palm Beach County residents familiar with Peter Luger of New York.
The trademark infringement lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, demanded that Carl Von Luger and its owner, Robert Dickert, stop using the Luger name in connection with a steak house. A Peter Luger lawyer said there was no association between the two restaurant companies. He also questioned Dickert’s claim to family ties.
Dickert countered that he is kin to Peter Luger and had every right to use the name: “When you talk about your family heritage, people can’t keep you down,” Dickert said in June.
But on Aug. 2, the lawsuit was settled.
In an interview on Monday, Dickert acknowledged he gave up his trademark rights to the Carl Von Luger name and will change the name of the Carl Von Luger restaurant in Pennsylvania by Oct. 28. “I’m not going to fight it. It’s too expensive,” Dickert said, citing an estimated $200,000 in legal fees.
Dickert said the Pennsylvania’s restaurant name likely would switch to Carl’s Prime. Dickert said he’s still interested in opening a steakhouse in Palm Beach County, but it won’t be at the North Palm Beach clubhouse.
Dickert, who said he spent 15 months working on the village deal, is disappointed the contract was canceled. “I don’t think they had the right to do it, but the name had something to do with it,” Dickert said.
As part of an effort to streamline construction costs, Dickert added that the village “wanted to get rid of the steakhouse part, but that’s what I went in there for.”
Lukasik confirmed the clubhouse likely won’t have a fine dining restaurant anymore to save construction costs. Instead, the clubhouse might be redesigned to remove the fine dining space and feature more casual outdoor dining, he said.