D.C. Cobb’s McHenry: A Legal Salad of Trademark Tangles and Foodborne Woes

Remember D.C. Cobb’s, the McHenry restaurant slinging juicy burgers and creamy salads? Well, it seems their menu wasn’t the only thing causing a stir lately. In 2021, a legal battle erupted between the co-owners, Dan Hart and Josh Carstens, turning D.C. Cobb’s into a courtroom drama hotter than their habanero sauce.

The saga began with a licensing agreement gone sour. Hart, who owned the D.C. Cobb’s trademark, leased it to Carstens for the McHenry branch. But when the deal expired, Carstens allegedly kept using the name and logo without permission. Think of it like borrowing a friend’s car and refusing to return it, brand logos and all!

Hart, naturally, wasn’t thrilled. He filed a lawsuit claiming trademark infringement, arguing that Carstens was operating a rogue D.C. Cobb’s, potentially confusing customers and diluting the brand’s value. Imagine biting into a subpar salad expecting D.C. Cobb’s magic and ending up with disappointment. Not the recipe for customer loyalty, right?

The legal battle escalated, with accusations flying thicker than French fries. Carstens argued he was deceived into signing the licensing agreement and wanted it nullified. He also challenged Hart’s withdrawal of $100,000 from the restaurant’s account, raising questions about financial transparency.

But the drama didn’t stop there. In October 2022, another unwelcome guest arrived at D.C. Cobb’s: a foodborne illness outbreak. Over 170 people reported getting sick after visiting the restaurant, with norovirus identified as the culprit. Suddenly, the legal battle took a backseat to public health concerns.

The McHenry County Department of Health investigated the outbreak, prompting D.C. Cobb’s to temporarily close its doors. While the legal wrangling continued, the restaurant faced a different kind of heat – the scrutiny of health inspectors and the potential for reputational damage.

So, what’s the current state of affairs? The legal battle seems to have simmered down, with the trademark infringement case dismissed without prejudice. However, the financial dispute between Hart and Carstens remains unresolved. As for the foodborne illness outbreak, it appears to be under control, but the incident has undoubtedly left a bitter taste in the mouths of many McHenry residents.

The D.C. Cobb’s saga serves as a cautionary tale for restaurant owners and patrons alike. It highlights the importance of clear agreements, responsible food handling practices, and the potential consequences when things go south. Whether you’re a business owner or a diner, it’s always best to keep your eyes peeled for potential red flags, both legal and culinary.


Is D.C. Cobb’s McHenry still open?

Yes, the restaurant has reopened after the foodborne illness outbreak.

Is there a lawsuit against D.C. Cobb’s?

The trademark infringement lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, but the financial dispute between the co-owners remains unresolved.

What happened to the foodborne illness outbreak?

The outbreak appears to be under control, but health officials continue to investigate.

Who owns the D.C. Cobb’s trademark?

Dan Hart owns the D.C. Cobb’s trademark.

What is the future of D.C. Cobb’s McHenry?

The future of the restaurant remains uncertain, given the ongoing legal and reputational challenges.


Partners in McHenry D.C. Cobb’s restaurant spar in court over $100,000 withdrawal, licensing fees amid COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.shawlocal.com/northwest-herald/news/local/2021/07/28/legal-battle-over-mchenry-dc-cobbs-restaurant-intensifies/
Legal battle over McHenry D.C. Cobbs restaurant intensifies: https://www.shawlocal.com/northwest-herald/news/local/2021/07/28/legal-battle-over-mchenry-dc-cobbs-restaurant-intensifies/
McHenry County health report finds more than 170 became ill after visiting D.C. Cobb’s: https://www.lakemchenryscanner.com/2022/09/14/health-department-investigating-illness-outbreak-linked-to-d-c-cobbs-restaurant-in-mchenry/
Health officials conclude illness outbreak linked to D.C. Cobb’s restaurant in McHenry that left 173 people sick: https://abc7chicago.com/dc-cobbs-mchenry-foodborne-illness-gastrointestinal/12232230/

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The story of D.C. Cobb’s McHenry is still unfolding, so stay tuned for further updates. And next time you’re craving a burger, make sure you’re biting into one that’s seasoned with legal clarity and cooked with food

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *