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Condo neighbours harpoon Moby Dick for "offensive term"

A lawsuit between commercial condo owners questions the appropriateness of a franchises name
moby dick
Moby Dick sign “offensive,” say condo neighbours. | Submitted


Vancouver lawsuit underlines the problems that can occur when mixing retail franchises into condominium buildings. 

Mengfa International Resources Inc., the owner of a commercial strata unit at the foot of Denman Street, is suing the owners of Strata Plan LMS 4025 for refusing to allow a Moby Dick fish-and-chips franchise to open in the building because the restaurant’s name was “offensive.”

Mengfa filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on January 9 on behalf of Moby Dick Restaurant (North Vancouver) Ltd.

Two days before the sale to Moby Dick was set to complete, the strata council allegedly refused to allow the restaurant to occupy the unit, claiming the word “Dick” in the name “was an offensive term,” the claim states.

The owners council also claimed the restaurant’s signage would devalue neighbouring units, increase litter around the property and violate bylaws regulating odours and fumes.

Similar cases have been seen in other cities. Two years ago, condo owners in an upscale New York tower sued in an attempt to evict the King of Truffles restaurant because of the alleged stink from its stored inventory. 

Mengfa claims it responded to the strata’s concerns by pointing out that the restaurant’s name and logo “were not offensive to the public given its literary significance and fame,” the lawsuit states, adding that “a seafood fish-and-chips restaurant at the commercial property, itself being surrounded by the ocean and harbour, would not devalue the real estate property.”

Meanwhile, Mengfa claims it and Moby Dick submitted signage and renovation plans to the council in the summer of 2016, but the owners allegedly denied every proposal.

“It was clear by the end of August 2016 that the strata intended to refuse any signage proposals belonging to Moby Dick which resembled its traditional trademark and brand,” the lawsuit states. 

Mengfa allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the strata plan had not responded to the claim by press time.