The exterior of the Kraken Bar & Lounge in Seattle’s University District. (Screengrab from KIRO 7 TV)
In April, a University District punk rock bar called the Kraken Bar & Lounge announced that it would be suing Seattle’s new NHL franchise, after the team had announced the opening of the similarly-named Kraken Bar & Grill in Northgate. While the team has since agreed to rename its restaurant, the bar is still looking to move forward with its lawsuit.
The Kraken Bar & Lounge opened in 2011, priding itself as a neighborhood dive bar and a local destination for punk music. But ever since Seattle’s new NHL team unveiled its team name, the bar has struggled to maintain that identity, even before the Northgate restaurant was announced.
“Before they announced the name of the restaurant, we were getting people calling asking, ‘hey, where can we get season tickets?’” the bar’s lawyer Mark Walters told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “And we had some people who wanted to make the bar a hockey bar, and that’s certainly not what we want.”
“The confusion is a real problem,” he added.
That confusion is evident in the digital world as well, with Walters describing how Googling terms like “Kraken Seattle” used to point directly toward the bar. Now, the NHL team dominates those search results, leaving the bar in a difficult place.
So, is the team relenting on the name of its Northgate restaurant enough to sate the owners of the 10-year-old dive bar?
“That’s a really good start,” Walters said.
Despite that, he says the bar is still looking for financial relief to the tune of $3.5 million, and still has concerns about how the team plans to brand its other team-themed businesses in the future.
“What we’re mostly concerned about are all the ancillary businesses that are connected to the hockey team: Bar, restaurant services, live entertainment services that they advertise under ‘the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena,’” Walters detailed.
Walters also points out that the lawsuit isn’t going so far as to ask the Kraken to change its team name entirely, given how “that ship has sailed, so to speak.” What the bar is really hoping to achieve is to reduce confusion surrounding the Kraken brand as much as possible.
“We’re looking for some solution that would eliminate the confusion or reduce it to some manageable level,” he said. “A lot of that takes resources to correctively advertise, and so that’s one of the parts of the relief that we’re asking for.”
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