The owners of the Fumé Bistro, a restaurant and bar in California’s Napa Valley, are unhappy with a cannabis delivery service’s decision to use a similar name for its business. Terry Letson, chef and one of the restaurant’s four owners, told local media that the name of the new cannabis delivery dispensary Napa Valley Fumé is causing confusion with his business.
“Now a significant part of the population thinks we’re selling marijuana, which hasn’t gone over well,” Letson said.
“It’s a controversial product that’s not mainstream,” he added.
Letson told High Times that the word Fumé is synonymous with his business with residents of the Napa Valley.
“This restaurant has been Fumé Bistro for 16 years and in this small community, we’re referred to as Fumé for short,” Letson said. “So when they see Fumé out there, especially on the front page of the paper, they assume it’s us selling or delivering or distributing marijuana.”
Letson said that he hopes that the dispensary will come up with a way to clearly set the two businesses apart.
“I encourage them to make some differentiation with the name, so people aren’t confusing our product with theirs,” he said.
‘An Incredible Burn’
Letson said that he and his partners worked hard to gain its reputation in the Napa Valley.
“To have such controversy over our name is really detrimental,” he said.
Another owner of the Fumé Bistro, Sheri Debow, expressed her dismay at the situation.
“The whole thing is such an incredible burn,” Debow said. “It’s a bummer.”
Letson told a local television station that he understands the dispensary’s use of the name.
“Fumé means smoke … and that’s one of the reasons why we chose the name because it’s a culinary term—with a wood-burning stove and a wine by Robert Mondavi,” Letson explained.
Letson said that feedback on social media indicated that some of the restaurant’s customers who confused the business with the new dispensary were unhappy with the perceived connection.
“There is a percentage who said we’re not going back to Fumé if they are going to sell marijuana,” said Letson.
“The problem is the confusion,” he said.
Letson said that he is not happy with the restaurant’s new association with cannabis.
“Obviously I’d rather not be affiliated with a dispensary and a business that’s selling products I don’t agree with,” said Letson.The owners have acknowledged that they may have no legal recourse because they do not have a trademark on the name.
“We can’t keep them from using the word fumé but we would encourage them to put a tagline, to put another word — another description — and to disassociate us with the product,” said Leston.
Dispensary Owner Responds
Eric Sklar, the CEO of Napa Valley Fumé, apologized when he learned of the situation, saying that he believed it would be short-lived.
“We’re sorry if there is a little confusion. We don’t think it will last long,” he said.
Sklar said the dispensary’s name “is perfect for cannabis” and also fits the region’s viticultural heritage.
“Fumé is a name that has been used in Napa Valley forever,” Sklar said. “It’s a very common term.”
Sklar said the name seemed right to set apart his business from the competition.
“We hadn’t seen any other businesses using it in our field,” he added. “We were very excited to use a name that seemed appropriate for us.”
Napa Valley Fumé is a licensed cannabis delivery dispensary located in Lake County, California. The company purchases its products from distributors and delivers through its affiliation with the online cannabis ordering platform Eaze. The dispensary accepts orders for delivery to addresses in nearly all of Napa County.