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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson’s Jesse Pineiro named B.C. boxing coach of the year

Pineiro and his fighters from Nelson Boxing Club were honoured at provincials

Fire destroys Fauquier restaurant

Early-morning blaze destroys Mushroom Addition

Salmo RCMP report drug bust

Fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine were seized along with Canadian cash

Nelson Leafs lose to Beaver Valley, will face Spokane in playoffs

Reid Wilson also finished the regular season third overall in scoring

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

B.C. VIEWS: Pipeline dispute highlights need for clarity

As the B.C. treaty process grinds on, uncertainty remains

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Most Read