After Cease-and-Desist, Agave Azuré (Formerly Agave Azul) Will Open as… Tepito!

cantinaDaniel Maurer

Last night, a doorman guarded a private friends-and-family dinner at a forthcoming restaurant in the former David’s Bagels space at 228 First Avenue, between 13th and 14th Streets. The sign over his head read Agave Azuré (a permutation of the restaurant’s original name, Agave Azul), but the illuminated “Agave” lettering was dark. According to a partner in the cantina and taqueria, that’s because a restaurant in the West Village, Agave, sent a cease-and-desist letter just days before opening night.

Evangelos Gavalas, 36, said that when the restaurant opens for dinner tomorrow (followed by lunch and brunch service in the coming weeks), it will be called Tepito, after the chef’s native town in Mexico. Executive chef Adrian Ramirez, he said, was born and raised in Mexico before coming to Austin, Texas and then to Manhattan to work at Le Cirque and eventually Dos Caminos.

“Tepito in Mexico is a badass place, just like the Lower East Side,” said Mr. Gavalas. “It’s not a culinary destination – more of a drug destination.”

At Tepito, the narcotic of choice will be tequila as well as cocktails made with guava, jalapeño, and ancho chile salt. The menu will initially consist of small plates. Mr. Gavalas said that two tacos and a plate of rice and beans will cost about $14.

As for the name over the door, it should change soon, and Mr. Gavalas, the owner of a Queens-based construction company and one of at least three partners in the restaurant, couldn’t be happier.

“It’s a blessing in disguise,” he said of the cease-and-desist letter. “I hated the name before.” He added, “Why fight the fight and spend the legal fees when we could spend the same amount to change the name and have the name be cool – and mean something, too.”

This isn’t the only recent naming dispute involving an East Village restaurant. (Curiously, a Facebook page for Agave Azuré claims that it’s “in the heart of Greenwich Village,” though the First Avenue address is listed. Mr. Gavalas said he had no idea who created the page.) In June, Graffit on the Upper West Side agreed to change its name after Graffiti on East Tenth Street filed a lawsuit.

The owners of Agave were not immediately available for comment.

Update | 1:05 p.m. Susan O’Hanlon, an owner of Agave in the West Village, confirmed that her lawyers sent the cease-and-desist letter. “I’ve spent ten years developing the [Agave] trademark as a brand,” she said, adding that “when I first opened Agave ten years ago, I did my due diligence and made sure I wasn’t infringing on anyone’s trademark, which is commonplace in the industry. At the time, I find out I was free to use Agave. Had they done the same thing, they would’ve found out that there has been an Agave in the West Village for ten years, less than a 10-minute walk from them.” She said she wished the owners of Tepito the best.