Lost Dog Cafe’s Pam McAlwee Speaks Up About the Conflict With Lost Dog Coffee

The Arlington restaurant’s co-owner contacted us to explain why a cease-and-desist letter was sent to the similarly named business in Shepherdstown.

By: Marisa M. Kashino

Yesterday we told you about Garth Janssen, owner of Lost Dog Coffee in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, who recently received a cease-and-desist letter from Arlington’s Lost Dog Cafe demanding that he stop using the Lost Dog name.

The Arlington restaurant’s lawyer, Richard Driscoll, declined to comment and told us his clients were under his instruction not to talk to media either. Apparently he’s reconsidered that stance, since Lost Dog Cafe’s co-owner Pam McAlwee reached out today to share her side of the dispute.

McAlwee says she and Lost Dog Cafe’s other owner, Ross Underwood, have been vacationing in Yellowstone, so the dispute “blew up” without them here. She says the cease-and-desist letter—which explicitly demands that Janssen stop using the term “Lost Dog” no later than September 15—is incorrect.

“To be honest with you, Ross and I—we’re not lawyer people,” she says. “I didn’t read [the letter] thoroughly.”

She says what she and Underwood actually want from Janssen is a guarantee that he will not expand his coffee shop into a cafe or restaurant that serves sandwiches and pizza, since that would too closely resemble their business. They also want Janssen to promise he will never add the word “cafe” to his shop’s name. McAlwee says she and Underwood intended to prevent these future actions, and not to force Janssen to change his business’s name now. However, she says that if the two businesses can’t come to “an amicable solution,” then the letter’s demand that Janssen stop using the name altogether “will go into effect.”

She says she has reached out to Janssen to try to resolve the dispute, but he has not been responsive.

Because Lost Dog Cafe and Lost Dog Coffee have coexisted for 16 years without their shared name causing a problem, it was also unclear why McAlwee and Underwood felt the need to take action now. McAlwee says that because they have recently sold franchises of their business, it has become more important to protect their trademark.

Janssen’s coffee shop isn’t the only other business with the Lost Dog moniker, and McAlwee says she and Underwood plan to “go after” all of the other similarly named businesses in the country, too.

Shortly after McAlwee called us, her lawyer, Driscoll, sent us an e-mail asserting that Lost Dog Cafe “continues to be willing to work out a resolution with Mr. Janssen.” Driscoll denies Janssen’s claim in our earlier story that Driscoll told him that he might as well just do what the letter says because he doesn’t “have a leg to stand on.”

As far as we’re concerned, coffee and pizza are two essentials of life, so we hope the businesses can figure out a way to work this out.