Less than one year since popular Port Richmond eatery Mercer Cafe debuted its outpost at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia in partnership with Vincent Tacconelli of the famed Philadelphia pizza family, that business arrangement seems to be having some trouble.
Tacconelli has filed a federal lawsuit against the Navy Yard location, claiming that the cafe is infringing on his trademark by selling pizza under the Tacconelli brand name. (Tacconelli is the owner of the Maple Shade and SugarHouse locations of the pizzeria — not the Port Richmond location, which is owned by other family members.) He is seeking unspecified damages.
Tacconelli says that he licensed the name to Mercer Cafe last June, with the understanding that Mercer would pay him a monthly royalty based on the gross sales of the pizzas. According to the lawsuit, Mercer failed to make any payments to Tacconelli or file sales reports with him from January to March of this year, so the pizza entrepreneur cancelled the licensing contract.
But Mercer continues to sell Taconnelli pizza, prominently advertising the brand on its website. And, no, you do not have to order the dough in advance, as you must at the historic Tacconelli’s in Port Richmond.
Mercer co-owner Tom Woltjen, who could not immediately be reached for comment, opened the original cafe in 1998 at the intersection of Mercer and Westmoreland streets. If you’re wondering how he connected with the Tacconellis in the first place, he’s married to one. Woltjen’s wife, Dina, is Vincent Tacconelli’s sister.