Eat mac and cheese. Screw McDonald’s. Get famous.
That was our motto at the SF Underground Farmers’ Market on Friday, after finding out two days earlier that McDonald’s would sue us for opening a restaurant called Little Mac.
Let me backtrack.
Last Wednesday, Erin and I found out we’d be debuting our mac and cheese for a crowd of a few thousand people at the SF Underground Farmers’ Market, hosted by Forage SF. That same day, we also found out that McDonald’s would sue us if we used the name Little Mac. According to their corporate council, any name with the word “mac” or “mc” is out of the question – even if it refers to mac and cheese.
(update 6/9/10: We have recieved lots of press about this story, and I want to clarify a few points. We ran the name Little Mac past a lawyer months ago, who told us he didn’t believe McDonald’s would have a problem with the name because there was no brand confusion. We became concerned when Erin, who is also a lawyer, started getting questioned by friends in Boston about the connection between Little Mac and McDonald’s. Erin called McDonald’s and spoke to their corporate council who told us they would have a problem with our name, or any other name with “mac” or “mc” in it. We never received a letter from McDonald’s, nor told anyone that we did.)
Great. We had less than 48 hours to buy and prep 45 pounds of elbow pasta, 40 pounds of cheese, 15 pounds of Prather Ranch hot dogs for our “trailer mac,” bags of flour, boxes of butter, gallons of milk, and cocoa powder and sugar for about 350 homemade oreos. Plus, we were nameless. How were people going to remember who we were? What would our sign say? What they hell were we supposed to do?
A contest! We enlisted friends to hand out flyers that explained our situation, and left room for people to write in their suggested restaurant name. We then set up a bulletin board at our stand where people could pin up their ideas. The winner of the contest would get a lifetime of free mac and cheese, plus serious bragging rights. Here’s a shot of our stand before the madness began:
What insanity. The market was held at SomArts, and while the day shift (11am-4pm) was a steady stream of orders, we were slammed at the night market (6pm – midnight). People loved our mac and cheese! We served two kinds – “return of the mac,” which was our classic three-cheese version, and our “trailer mac,” which had sliced Prather Ranch organic hot dog and topped with crushed potato chips.
We cooked on induction burners, and couldn’t churn it out fast enough. After waiting in line for over an hour to get into the market, people then waited in another line just for our mac and cheese – and came back for more. It was incredible. And utterly exhausting. I wish I had time to take pictures, but luckily Janet from Pretty Green Girl, who helped hand out flyers all day long, snapped a shot of trailer mac:
We received tons of names from attendees, and are still sorting through all the cards. Macalicious, Back to the Mac, MNC, Corkscrew You, Elbow Inn, Elbow Room, Mac & Diane, Say Cheese, Nice & Cheesy – I can go on….
What about you? Do you have a great name for the restaurant formerly known as Little Mac? Here are a few things to consider:
- Along with mac and cheese, we are focusing on the nostalgic aspect of foods–things you remember fondly from childhood.
- We are using all local cheeses and produce. We’ll have about 9 types of mac and cheese, along with organic salads, homemade desserts, local wine and craft beers.
- We would rather not use “mac” in the name (I guess we didn’t state that clearly enough for market goers).
You too could win lots and lots of free mac and cheese. I realize that means little to those of you far away – so we’ll come up with something else for you if we choose your name. Please help name our restaurant! And . . . screw McDonald’s.