What Does La Fourchette Think of La Forchetta?

The owner of a French cafe in Adams Morgan says new pizzeria La Forchetta is confusing her customers.

What's in a name? Not much, says the owner of La Forchetta, unless it's trademarked.

“My customers are calling me, asking: ‘Jackie, did you open another one?'”

That’s Jacqueline Chauvet, who runs 34-year-old La Fourchette, a French cafe along the 18th Street restaurant strip in Adams Morgan, with her husband Pierre, a classically trained chef. 

Chauvet says that since the opening of New Mexico Ave. Italian eatery La Forchetta, people have wondered if the new restaurant was a second location of hers. Others, she said, have asked her why she moved the restaurant. “I’m not sure if they have the right to do it,” says Chauvet, referring to La Forchetta’s similar name. She says one of her adult sons sent a letter to La Forchetta owner Hakan Ilhan regarding the matter. Chauvet admits that “Fourchette” and “Forchetta”–both words mean fork–come from different languages, but the point, she says, is that we don’t know that. “You Americans, you don’t make the difference.” 

When we spoke to Ilhan last week, he had not yet received a letter. “We were aware of La Fourchette,” says Ilhan, who checked to see whether the French restaurant had trademarked its name before settling on La Forchetta. The restaurateur, who has himself applied to trademark “La Forchetta,” had a similar point to make about his logo, which, Eater DC’s Amy McKeever recently pointed out to him, very closely resembles that of a Caracas, Venezuela restaurant also called La Forchetta. 

“People become very protective but unfortunately these things do get repeated,” says Ilhan. “That’s why there is a trademark office. That’s the law.”