McDonald's has big beef with local burger contest entry


They always say if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. Warwick’s Amanda Grace is familiar with the heat of cooking, but recently it was her entry in the Luxe Burger Bar’s second annual Build Your Own Burger Contest that came under fire.

Grace’s entry was called the “Big Mac n’ Cheese Burger,” but when McDonald’s caught wind of the name, they contacted Luxe with a threat to sue.

In response to questions about the matter, McDonald’s issued this statement yesterday afternoon: “McDonald's has been using its world famous ‘Big Mac’ trademark for decades and has a federal registration for this mark. A customer advised us that Luxe Burger Bar was offering a sandwich under the name ‘Big Mac N’ Cheese Burger.’ The law requires the trademark owner to police the use of its trademark in order to protect its exclusive rights and to avoid potential consumer confusion.”

A spokeswoman for Luxe said they were made aware of McDonald’s concern early last week, and while McDonald’s attorneys didn’t threaten a lawsuit outright, they did ask Luxe to cease use of the title “Big Mac n’ Cheese Burger” or else they would be “forced to consider further legal action.”

“When I found out that my burger name needed to change due to a potential lawsuit, I was not surprised,” said Grace in an email. “Although there were some similarities to the ‘Big Mac’ name, that was part of the fun behind the original name. It was meant to pay homage to its inspiration of the ‘classic’ burger.”

Still, not wanting to get sued over what’s meant to be a fun, friendly competition, Luxe opted to change the name – Grace’s entry is now sans “Big.” Because of Luxe’s action, McDonald’s said the matter has been resolved.

Now Grace, a 26-year-old interactive marketing analyst, can continue on her quest to win the competition, something she first heard about on Luxe’s Facebook page.

Throughout August, guests to Luxe were encouraged to create their own, outrageous burger concoctions and more than 200 people entered.

“I entered on a whim,” said Grace in an email. “I never thought in a million years that my burger would be in the top five!”

But Grace’s burger made it. Her creation consists of two Gold Label burgers, Luxe's own signature macaroni and cheese, iceberg lettuce, dill pickles, Bermuda onions, horseradish mayo, spicy catsup and a classic sesame bun.

“When I came up with the concept for the Mac N' Cheese burger, I tried to incorporate all of the classic burger ingredients we have come to know and love, along with a taste of good old comfort food,” explained Grace.

At Luxe Burger Bar, guests receive a list of burger types and topping choices, and are asked to select what they would like by checking off options and returning it to their server. Grace said the process to enter the contest was similar but included a section for additional ingredients.

After entering in August, Grace found out earlier this month that her Mac n’ Cheese Burger had made it to the top five.

“I was shocked that out of 200-plus entries, my submission was one of the top creations,” she said. “Being that I entered on a whim, I never expected that anything would come of it. It was definitely a nice surprise.”

A big fan of Luxe, Grace is thrilled she’s made it so far in the competition.

“When I used to work in downtown Providence, Luxe was a lunchtime staple for me and co-workers alike,” she said. “Since changing work locations to Boston, I find myself missing my favorite Providence spots.”

The top five contestants’ burgers are currently featured on the Luxe menu and will be voted on by guests and showcased on “The Rhode Show” on WPRI 12. On Saturday at noon, the top five contestants will convene for a showdown where the best burgers will be prepared for a panel of culinary and celebrity judges. Each submission will be scored on creativity, taste, edibility, ease of production, overall composition and the burger’s name. People can also vote on the Luxe Burger Bar Facebook page and Final scores will be based on the experts’ opinions, online votes and burger sales during the month of September.

If Grace wins, she’ll take home a $500 Chow Fun Food Group gift card and have the Mac n’ Cheese Burger featured on the Luxe menu.

“I feel that my burger should be crowned the best, because not only does it embody the classic burger, but it also can appeal to all, not just gourmet flavor pallets,” she said.

Other finalists include Baltimore’s Finest Burger, which features a blue crab cake burger; Fire From the Gods Burger, a turkey burger with goat cheese and grilled fennel; a Chicken n’ Waffle Burger that replaces the buns with waffles, and the Benefit Street Burger, which features a chicken breast topped with prosciutto and a pear and ginger chutney.

For more information, or to vote, visit Voting ends Sept. 29.


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