Chambar’s Take On A Copycat Restaurant Opened In Shanghai

August 5, 2010.


This is a goodie. From Chambar’s new website comes news that a rather enterprising fellow named Fissal Oubida has decided to open a Chambar Belgian Bistro of his own in Shanghai, China, without consultation. Chambar’s response is a little tongue and cheek, but their more than justified annoyance comes across loud and clear.

We’d like to offer our assistance with your menu, which aside from the mussels is getting repeatedly slagged on shanghai blog sites. Although this blogging phenomenon by self proclaimed food critics and possibly sex deprived individuals (why else would you be posting these comments at 2am) are not always complimentary, there are some great people who are genuinely passionate about food. Anyways, feel free to peruse the menu section of our website as it’s continually changing and an easy way for the conceptually challenged to get new ideas.

Please switch to using sustainable seafood, we know this is not a priority in China, considering they’re still serving shark fin soup – but give the our oceans a break will you.

We would strongly advise against serving half waffles (give people the whole damn thing) and DO NOT top with spray can cream and chocolate out of a tube!!

Ditch the gingham table cloths, Belgium has no alpine chalets & Heidi is not from
this country – although there are some hot blondes.

If you are going to advertise a url ( you may want to register it first. Now that we own it, it points to this news page which exposes your blatant incompetence for being original.

If you are going to blatantly steal our logo, which took owner & designer Karri Schuermans about 100 hours to create old school typography style, please don’t insult her further by adding brush script text below it, and definitely don’t add photoshop glow filters – please, this is graphic blasphemy.

It was nice of you to be a patron of Chambar while you lived in Vancouver. We hope all our guests take home a wonderful experience – but not the name, logo and concept. Granted a Belgian style restaurant is by no means an original concept, it helps to have a Belgian chef as good as Nico Schuermans. Don’t get us wrong, we take no ownership of the cuisine from this small country (with a big beer list) that many can’t locate on a map.

Be sure to take legal letters that arrive in the mail quite seriously, especially the ones stating that the ‘Chambar’ name and logo you’ve used are already registered in China. Take this from someone’s foresight, which has now become your hindsight.

What a goof.

  • Joel Dauncey

    I really hope they are able to do something about this. I heard it is near impossible to take legal action from Canada against a business in China in a case like this.

  • Lauren Mote

    this might single-handedly be the best thing i have read today. wow.
    i think if publicists and friends of chambar and the vancouver dining scene that we’re very protective of, badger this guy enough and continuously expose his blatant lack of professioalism through media, social networks and other avenues, customers and writers hopefully will eventually stop supporting. the guy’s clearly an idiot, and obviously doesn’t understand how to be inspired by a successful business idea and make it his own, while crediting appropriate resources. off with his head.

  • anon

    Copycat restaurants abound. The Schuermans should just take it as a compliment and/or ignore it and go on about their business. Unless the copycat restaurant misleadingly advertises themselves as affliated to the Vancouver Chambar, nothing the copycat does or serves affect them in any way. Most of their customers probably wouldn’t even know about the Vancouver Chambar. By the same token, most Vancouver customers probably wouldn’t know anything about the copycat Shanghai restaurant either. The copycat obviously has little originality to crib the concept and the name — that’s between him and whatever god he worships — but responding to him, threatening to sue and other such actions lowers the respondent to his level. Unless the Schuermans had intended to open a restaurant in Shanghai, this copycat restaurant poses no threat nor obstacle to them. It’s across the Pacific, for heaven’s sake.

  • Scout Magazine

    The Pacific’s a lake these days, anon. I’d probably be pissed as hell.

  • anon

    Sure, be pissed — if I were the Schuermans, I’d be pissed too. But they’re running a business, and that guy is running a business too. And as far as I can tell, the other guy’s business doesn’t really affect the Schuermans. As I said, the other guy is class-less, but responding in kind? — well, I wouldn’t consider that as a course of action. Just reeks of provincial small-mindedness to me, IMHO. The most the Schuermans can do is to ask for some sort of monetary compensation for use of the name and the concept. Is that what this is about all along? I don’t know the state of copyright laws these days and I don’t know if those are patent-able nor do I think it should be when it comes to restaurants. Restaurants are a different animal altogether: what makes or breaks them is management and execution. We know the Schuermans have a great restaurant running: we’ll see if the other guy can run his. As I said, the two restaurants can run in parallel universes and they do not affect each other in any way.

  • anon

    It seems that the Schuermans do want to do business in China — then by all means, sue to protect their commercial interests. The lawyers would surely be happy. IMHO, though, Shanghai is probably big enough to support 10+ Chambars if need be.

  • Oz

    Anon has clearly never spent time, money and effort creating something unique and finetuning it to the point where it can become renowned. If he had, he wouldn’t put so little credence in the need for a well-respected restaurant to protect itself from inferior imitators.

    If I opened a Hilton hotel in my basement, should the owners of that company just let it go and not ‘respond in kind’, or should they sue me for all I’m worth?

    Just because Chambar isn’t a multinational doesn’t mean it doesn’t own its brand, or that they shouldn’t defend it with every outlet at their disposal.

    If I was in Shanghai and went to that crappy restaurant, thinking it was going to be as good as what’s in Vancouver, I’d be outraged to have blown good money – and I’d probably come away feeling that the real Chambar owners (as opposed to this imitator) were to blame.

    Who knows how many others have done just that?

  • Sean Heather

    We are going through something similar with a new restaurant that opened last week in Toronto called “Salt Wine Bar” serving cured meats, cheese and wine. Because Salt Toronto had numerous false starts, we have received several reservations, job applications and media requests.

    After repeated, failed attempts to contact our new friend, we flew out to meet (surprise) him and after some posturing he sat down with us. In his own words, he is aware that we can engage lawyers and create a bit of a media stink….in fact he is counting on it. He will get a lot of publicity as the Toronto operator who knocked off Salt and if, in a few months, we were to successfully stop him, he intends to play the “nasty successful Vancouver Salt bullies little old me” card. We have a trade-mark pending and have long harbored ambitions to open in Toronto, so this really is a problem for us. If we don’t attempt to stop this guy we won’t be able to use our name in Toronto later, as he will have established himself and we’ll be on record as not having done anything.

    Although our pal is closer than Shanghai, our options are almost as limited….we are left a few legal options, Chambar’s approach (the one that he is counting on) and a basic appealing to his sense of decency. The latter didn’t work and the Chambar approach isn’t really an option for us, as it would play into his hands, so we are watching & waiting as our legal activity marks time.

  • Scout Magazine

    There are two Cactus Clubs in Vancouver. How do they get away with it?

  • anon

    Certainly a tough position for Mr. Heather — and I do hope that legal action would be able to stop the impostor Salt from continuing to use the name. Although, I’m thinking — he will be getting what he wanted, which is some publicity to possibly ride on until his next venture.

    Is the Toronto Salt claiming to have an affliation with Vancouver Salt and hence lending the Toronto Salt some legitimacy? If that’s the case, then certainly there’s a case for misleading the public and fraud. But if Toronto Salt is not claiming anything and even hiding the fact, I’m guessing that unless the Toronto customer is really, really diligent, he or she will be none the wiser, not even knowing that there is the original Vancouver Salt. The same question applies to Shanghai Chambar.

    The question for the original Chambar and the original Salt is how much money are they willing to put into stopping the impostors from continuing to use the name. 50k, 100k, 200k, 500k? Both Sean Heather and the Schuermans are successful businesspeople and they will gauge for themselves how much money on legal action they’re willing to spend. At the end of the day, wouldn’t the money be better spent growing the business instead of bloody legal action?

    As I have said, both Chambar and Salt are successful restaurants and the question to ask and assess themselves is how much of that success comes from the name and concept of their restaurants and how much of that success actually comes from providing their customers with a great dining experience in their restaurants. Yes, we do get attached to names and our own branding — but here’s a thought: I daresay that with the creative and management team behind Chambar and Salt, they can probably open their restaurants under different names and still be packed nightly.

  • Chambar

    Thanks for your support & comments.

    Our response is simply a matter of principal. If you want to use something that belongs to someone else – ask.

    Ultimately we’re taking the Chambar Shanghai as flattery and would rather spend our time being progressive. From a legal perspective, we’re not prepared to waste money on a legal battle. Starbucks spent buckets of money setting a new precedent in China, and because we’re a registered trademark in China, and this business has not been operational for 2 years they will most likely have to refrain from using our logo.

    We’ve taken it as a lesson to trademark our brand in the countries that matter. We put a lot and time of effort into creating the Chambar brand, which is more about the experience than the logo. We feel the use of our logo by someone else reflects negatively on us. If someone visited this restaurant, they would most likely give Chambar a miss if they were in Vancouver.

    The article on our website is simply a way of getting it off our chest, and creating some humour around the situation.

  • Dudawei

    Don’t you worry about this guy
    Indeed don’t you spend money trying to lawsuit him.

    I live in Shanghai, and is one of the unlucky who spent money there.

    With most of the reviews available in Shanghai being negative or mediocre, he will be out of business within weeks, by lack of repeat business and potential new customer. In fact I passed in front of the restaurant today at lunch time and it was empty. With the high rents in the area the restaurant is located, “natural-selection” will do the job.

    Now I understand that, when you try hard to build-up a brand and the reputation of your business, it is a heartbreak to see others using your efforts and ruining the whole thing with bad ethics and customer service..

    Here is a bit of sun for you though: Chambar Shanghai (the copycat) have just been blacklisted from one of the most important food and beverage review website in Shanghai ( and I expect the few other important ones to follow.
    Here are the reasons they gave, and they’ve done a fine job investigating.,_Copies,_and_Ghosts.html

    If you are thinking about coming over and start under your own name I am sure they would help getting your reputation back, and Shanghai has a huge potential.
    There are at the moment only 2 other Belgium Restaurant-Bars and they are very well, there is room for an other one.

    I hope to go to Vancouver someday (I always dreamed of it actually) and I ll definitely pass by to enjoy a good beer at the Genuine Chambar !

  • fissak

    well , here is finally chambar shanghai speaking, since everyone is speaking on our behalf , judging us and giving us names and even going a bit over,

    we are a small belgium restaurant, open for 3 months , very successful , we promoted the belgium food and culture in shanghai , we have the support of all belgium community, our food is very appreciated by our customers.

    the fact we use the same name as chambar Vancouver should be read as an inspiration from them, i liked their website , i liked the name , and i created my own concept , we are not like them in anyway, they are big , we are small , they are a restaurant and lounge , we are a bistro, before operating our business , we applied for the name and logo in shanghai registration office, and we waited 2 weeks , to get the answer that no one registering that name or logo in china , so we did register the name and logo in china, logo is slightly different, name is the same.

    in china its a common practice , we have nike, like neke, we have reboock as rebock. as long as they respect legal process and they have a license to run their business.

    i understand chambar Vancouver anger as their baby restaurant name been copied in shanghai , i apology to them, and instead of making a big deal of it, i invite them to come any time to shanghai, give us their advice and assistance and we will make them enjoy our hospitality.

    we can even think about a join venture, to open more chambars around china and even in Asia.

    good luck to all entrepreneurs that at least try, and god forgive talker who just have a lot of free time to seat and criticize others.

    ” its hard to make a good painting, but very easy to seat and say what the painter should do and what he shouldn’t “

  • Chambar

    Your lack of originality, and ethic will most likely be rewarded in the form of an empty karma jar. You are truly delusional if you think we would ever go into business with someone willing to outright lie, as you have throughout your posting. No further comment.

  • non-European and non-Canadian

    Interesting. I had never heard of the Canadian version but heard about the Shanghai version through their ads, took friends and enjoyed it – the place was full, the food good and the recommended wine excellent – I though the proprietor, a good operator and will recommend it. Chambar should take it as an annoying compliment – I now know about the original and will visit when in town.

  • E

    This guy has no morals. Steals the name, logo, concept, food and doesn’t think he did anything wrong? Is his name even real? He probably stole someone’s identity, what a crook!

  • Bjorn

    As I have a coupon for Chambar (in Shanghai) and was planning to visit tonight, I decided to look up some reviews. Now that I’ve found out the real story I’ll be sure not to go.

    It’s fine that he wanted to start a Belgian restaurant but to take the same name and logo? That’s just lazy theft. He won’t be getting my patronage.

  • Seppe

    Very common mindset in China, but he’s not Chinese. It’s poor reasoning to justify you are going local when you know you are just a fraud.

    I am Belgian and I went there.
    Yes, I know. I wish I had spent my money differently.
    The location is quite stunning, but the restaurant was empty. The mussels were so-so, waffles dry and chewy. All in all, dishes and beer were overpriced.

    I hate being overcharged for beer. Nothing justifies a 8 euro price, when China’s DDP price can be less than 2 euro.

  • Dan

    fissak’s post does everything but admit guilt…heck, it implies it. It’s pretty amusing. And the balls on the guy to invite the original proprietors of Chambar over to give HIM advice.

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