Kerry Krahn, owner of the Wellington Social House downtown Chilliwack, is looking to his customers for a new name following a cease and desist letter from the competition. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

B.C. restaurant caught in dispute over franchise’s trademarked ‘socialhouse’ name

Browns Socialhouse says its trademarked the name, demanding a Chilliwack business make changes

When Kerry and Claudette Krahn took over an iconic, cornerstone business of downtown Chilliwack, they wanted a name to fit their laid back style.

They came up with Wellington Social House, a fitting name with a nod to the historic street they’re on, and the inviting atmosphere they’re known to create inside the restaurants they’ve owned. So they ordered their sign, menus, business cards, and got on with taking over the popular eatery, attached to the Royal Hotel. They also run the Royal’s cafe.

Business took off instantly, and their musical friends are delighted to have a new venue to call home. But it didn’t take long for the bad news to arrive. The Krahns received a registered letter in the mail from Browns Socialhouse back in mid-November, informing them that the term ‘socialhouse’ is copyrighted and they were in violation of a trademark.

They had to agree to cease and desist.

The Krahns had never imagined that such common words would be copyrighted, and they aren’t alone. Browns has had at least one other restaurant change their name. In 2013, a Prince George barbecue restaurant received the same letter, and agreed to drop the “social house” part of the name. Bruce Fox, executive VP with the Browns Restaurant Group says they don’t discuss individual circumstances, but with more than 60 restaurants across western Canada, their obligation is to franchise owners who pay a licencing fee to use the trademarks.

“Often they are mis-informed about trademark rules and have no idea it is protected,” he says of independent restaurateurs. “Once they discover how things work they voluntarily find a new name to do business under.”

And that’s what the Krahns have decided to do. But they want to have a little fun with it. After all, that’s what they’re all about. They’ve decided to launch a Facebook contest, starting Friday, Jan. 26. They want their customers to help them come up with a great name. A name that suits the business, the building, the atmosphere, the whole thing.

“We liked the idea of ‘social house’ and what it represents,” Krahn says. “We don’t want it to be a bar. It’s a gathering place and we’ve really accomplished that. It has that kind of feel.”

They’ve had great music nights, with world-class jazz music by Cory Weeds, piano nights with Trevor McDonald, and Friday night live music, too. Soon, they’ll have Classic Sounds coming in Saturday afternoons spinning vinyl while the kitchen serves up hearty slices of pizza.

Krahn is a musician himself, and jumps in to play on Friday nights here and there. He is also a big supporter of local businesses, partnering with the likes of Smits and Co.w, Produce Gone Wild, Johnston’s Pork, and Fraser Valley Duck and Goose, as well as Old Yale Brewing.

To help christen the Wellington Social House with a new name, visit them on their Facebook page on their current name.

Just Posted

Thrift shop turns five

Elk Valley Thrift Shop Society has raised $370,000 since inception

Elk Valley mayors to lead hospital district board

Dean McKerracher, David Wilks elected to Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board

Rezoning paves way for next stages of Montane Fernie

Multi-family units, cottages, recreational facilities planned as part of multimillion-dollar project

Ghostriders defuse Dynamiters at home

Game 13 proves unlucky for Mountain division leaders Kimberley

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Kimberley’s Ron Rossi wins a million dollars

Big win leads to early retirement

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Regions could pay up to $68 more

Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump

It could be an “impeachable offense” if it’s proven that President Donald Trump directed illegal hush-money payments to women during the 2016 campaign.

Most Read