Cafe Society

Bobby Flay grills Applebee's

What with his Food Channel fame and a restaurant empire stretching from Las Vegas to New York City, it was bound to happen: Bobby Flay is now king of all he surveys. At least he thinks so.

Applebee's recently introduced a menu concept of "regional American burgers" from such locales as Philadelphia, the Wild West and the Texas-Mexico border. But in an awkward May 27 Twitter feed, Flay claims that the chain that feeds families everywhere has stolen its ideas from his own Bobby's Burger Palace, which also specializes in regional burgers. "Now their copying" his Dallas Burger with a Cowboy Burger, he suggests, and aping his Buffalo Style Burger with a Southwest Jalapeno Burger apes the Buffalo Style Burger.

Still, putting cheese bacon and other toppings on a burger doesn't make it some trademarked gourmet treat. If that were the case, Flay could sue me over my burger offerings on Memorial Day.

There are thousands of burger palaces across this country, and every one of them is a variation of some other place. In fact, last year the burger trade paper, Burger Business, posted detailed all the restaurants featuring burgers "that salute cities, states or regions."

Still, with Flay flailing around the Twittersphere, you can expect him to arrive at your backyard barbecue on July 4 to serve a subpoena -- if not one of his new regional Denver burgers.

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