Where Shanghai soup-dumpling master Tom Guo goes, confusion follows.
He was a partner in Dim Sum Garden when it opened at 59 N. 11th St. in Chinatown in 2007, but sold his stake to two business partners a year later. Those partners, Shizhou Da and her daughter, Sally Song, operated it till late 2013, when they closed and opened a snazzy, new Dim Sum Garden nearby, at 1120 Race St.
Guo and associates swooped in and reopened on 11th Street, creating two Dim Sum Gardens.
Online restaurant guides found it hard to differentiate. Many noticed that the 11th Street location had closed and simply treated the Dim Sum Garden name as another failed restaurant.
The name battle ended up in court, and under a settlement, the 11th Street location became known as Tom’s Dim Sum, while Dim Sum Garden remained.
Three years ago, the owners of Tom’s opened a branch in Media.
But then last fall, as Guo said in an interview on July 31, he was asked to leave the business, of which his wife, Dai Zhang, is listed as a part-owner. (It is unclear if Guo ever had a stake in Tom’s.)
Zhang and another partner, You Hui Cao, sued the restaurant company in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in December over their ouster; the case is pending.
Guo himself did not go quietly. This summer, he turned up two doors away from the Tom’s in Media with a new dim sum restaurant, which bears a banner reading “Tom’s Dim Sum Mania.”
This week, the owners of Tom’s Dim Sum filed a federal trademark lawsuit against Guo, claiming that he is trying to steal their business.
It should be noted that the main sign and menus for Guo’s restaurant read “Dim Sum Mania.”
The banner below the sign includes the word “Tom’s" and stenciled lettering in the window reads “Tom’s.” The restaurant’s website is dimsummania.com and includes no mention of “Tom’s.”