The internet went ablaze on November 6, when Joan's on Third announced on its Facebook and Twitter that the Santa Monica restaurant of the same name was "no longer a licensed Joan's on Third."
The first Joan's on Third opened on West Third Street in 1995, with a location opening in Studio City last year. The third Santa Monica branch was originally set up in a licensing agreement that allowed the Westside outlet to use the recipes and branding of the West Third original.
Now the legal claws are out, with an embroiled court case, Joan's on Third vs. well, Joan's on Third, currently pending. On August 13, JOTSM, LLC (Santa Monica) sued Joan's on Third Licensing, LLC (the original one founded by Joan McNamara) for breach of contract, portraying McNamara as negligent and unreasonably difficult to work with, citing a failure to provide "sandwich diagrams" and dish "look books" before the Ocean Avenue location opened in July of this year.
In response to the breach of contract, McNamara filed a cross complaint against the business partners of the Santa Monica location, claiming issues like improper labeling at the pre-opening walk throughs. These issues allegedly worsened once the restaurant and marketplace opened, with a laundry list of complaints that include rancid curried chickpeas, "pale, floppy pickles," moldy cheese, cupcakes with incorrect milk frosting, inferior ciabatta rolls, and the sale of such unapproved items as gummy peach rings.
[Mac and cheese comparison at Joan's on Third Santa Monica]
While the complaints run the gamut from comically trivial to some serious health concerns, there's little question now as to why McNamara wouldn't want her name (or original store's brand) attached to any of it.
The Hollywood Reporter dug through the exhibits, which include a photographic comparison of Joan's on Third's signature dish, mac and cheese, to the imposter version served in Santa Monica. Furthermore, the cross complaint contends that the Santa Monica branch ignored the approved Joan's on Third technique for cooking "a light, fluffy, French-style" omelet, and instead left "the eggs in the pan unstirred to be finished under a broiler, resulting in a tougher, heavier" dish.
While Joan's on Third Licensing alleges they weren't given the proper guidance to adhere to McNamara's overly demanding specifications, it seems like a pretty strong case of reputation management that goes far beyond overcooked eggs.