Reporting Mary Bubala
HAMPDEN, Md. (WJZ) — The owner of Cafe Hon makes a huge about-face.
The word “hon” no longer belongs to Denise Whiting.
As Mary Bubala explains, she did away with the trademark to save her business.
“It was never mine to own in the first place,” Whiting said.
Denise Whiting — the owner of Cafe Hon — is renouncing the “hon” trademark.
“It belongs to the people of Baltimore, and the thing is that now, Baltimore is going to defend it so I don’t have to hold onto it, I don’t have to keep it. It was never mine to start with,” said Whiting.
It’s a complete reversal for Whiting, who until now, dismissed the protests and backlash. But Monday, she admitted her restaurant is failing.
“If it doesn’t turn around I will shut the doors,” said Whiting.
It’s why Chef Gordon Ramsey is at Cafe Hon taping “Kitchen Nightmares.”
He’s improving the food and dealing with a major PR fiasco over Whiting’s trademarking all things “hon” — from the use of the word to the scale of items like cat-eye glasses at Honfest.
“It’s caused a lot of frustration, a lot of anger, and it’s helped to damage the restaurant and she realizes she was making a mistake,” said Ramsay.
But will this move save their business? The community reacted strongly to her trademarking “hon.” So much so that a lot of people boycotted her restaurant. Will they come back?
“I think it’s the absolute right decision. It wasn’t doing her any good and I don’t think she had any real claim on that word,” said David O’Brien.
“I think I stopped eating there because the food wasn’t that great honestly and there are other options on the Ave I liked more,” said Beth Isaacson.
“I am just one of those people who haven’t been in there for a while for those same reasons, and I will go back if she’s really apologizing and is sincere,” said Carl Ford.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” said Whiting.
Whiting began trademarking the word “hon” back in 1992.
Cafe Hon has 50 employees and has been in operation for 20 years.