Brothers Bar & Grill -- a link in a Wisconsin-based chain -- is slated to open May 27 in the former home of The Real World: Denver at 1920 Market Street. And there's enough drama around this project to rate a reality show.
When Theorie, the building's most recent occupant, closed last fall, the space was snapped up by Fortney Affiliates, which oversees the sixteen Brothers Bar & Grill restaurants around the country. And they thought that Denver looked like a good market for the big sports-bar concept -- never mind that Denver's had a My Brother's Bar since 1970, run by owner Jim Karagas. Or that My Brother's, at 2376 15th Street, is just a mile away from this new Brothers.
While the build-up has continued at 1920 Market, the owners of both outfits have been doing some legal work, too. In March, Karagas's attorney sent a note to Fortney Affiliates -- owned by the two Fortney brothers, who have franchised their Brothers concept -- noting the similarities in names and suggesting options. When discussions went nowhere (Karagas didn't like the alternative of It's Brothers), earlier this month Fortney Affiliates filed its own motion in court, asking a judge to rule that they had a right to use the Brothers name in Denver.
There's been no ruling yet, but the owners of Brothers Bar & Grill are moving ahead with their plans to open on May 27.
"That's at their risk," says John Kottke, Karagas's attorney. "We'll have to see how that plays out."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In the meantime, the lawyers for My Brother's are working on a counterclaim to the Fortney legal motion, which is due by July 6. "We're not going away," Kottke says. "We feel very strongtly that Jim has proprietory trademark here in the Denver area for My Brother's Bar."