Pizza, Bagel Joints Feud Over Holy H2O

Water is at the center of a legal food fight between a Delray bagel shop and a Lake Worth pizzeria. But it's not South Florida water that heating up. It's the New York tap H2O that does miracles for pizza and bagel dough. Or so they say.

The simmering feud started in May when The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company sued Famous New York Baking Water Company, a company formed by Donald Kurtzer, for stealing trade secrets. 

"Donald Kurtzer was and is Steven Fassberg's - the founder of Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company's - father-in-law, so Don was part of the original group that investigated how to replicate New York water here in Florida...he had knowledge of our formulation," said Ira Marcus, the company's lawyer.

The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company, which is set to open a location in Miami Beach next year, has been touting its water formula since it opened its first store in Delray in August 2009. We can't attest to their claims but our own Lee Klein is a fan of the bagels.

Though the parties came to an agreement in August, the water wars didn't

end there. Kurtzer had sold equipment to Mamma Mia's Trattoria, a

restaurant in Lake Worth owned by Joey Lograsso; so Original Brooklyn

Water Bagel Company accused it of misappropriating trade secrets.  

Mamma Mia's countersued. "Mamma Mia's contention is that it didn't acquire any trade secret, it's

not using a trade secret and therefore isn't misappropriating any trade

secrets," said John Kelly, who is representing Mamma Mia. "The formula

for public New York City water is published every year and the

concept of making in-house water is not original to Original Brooklyn

Water Bagel Company."

Kelly says other restaurants like Grimaldi's Pizzeria and New York Pizza Department in Arizona have been doing the same since 2000. Marcus said anyone can look on the Internet and find out what's in New York water and try to replicate it, but Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company took what was in the public domain

and refined it.

"That's the same thing that Coca Cola has," he said. "They have a

formula that they have under lock and key that no one knows. Kentucky

Fried Chicken has a list of 11 secret spices. We have our formula. Now

can people go and look what's in New York water and try to create their

own? Let them do it. But it's not so easy."

As for Mamma Mia's claims that the bagel company

falsely advertised a patent, Marcus says that's what they were told by

the equipment's manufacturer.

Let's just hope the food at these places doesn't suffer while their owners continue to fight it out in court over tap water.

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Paula Niño
Contact: Paula Niño