News & Politics

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.

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

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.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.