Baltimore Gets Its ‘Hon’ Back

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.

More from Mary Bubala
  • sorry Hon

    It appears to me that Denise Whiting is only renouncing her trademark to win back customers and to save her restaurant. I see no real reason to celebrate her or to support Cafe Hon any longer. Sorry Hon…

  • Jolene

    She’s only doing it to save her restaurant! I wish I could curse in this comment! She has me livid! NEVER patronize her restaurant. LET IT FAIL!!! Let her learn some REAL HUMILITY! This is a monster of a woman and I wish we could drive her and her family out of this city, not just the restaurant!

  • Richard Crystal

    She could have done this without all the PR nonsense and Gordon Ramsey in which case i would have thought better of her. I guess Chef will change the title of this episode to “PR Nightmares”? I can’t help but wonder if the mediocre food and outlandish prices will be addressed.

  • YES! Denise Whiting is almost out of business, hon! - City-Data Forum

    […] […]

  • lynn

    it will go back the way it was when ramsey leaves. She will still be a B. Thats while I wil not eat there any more

  • jess

    Back to cleanin’ turlets agin HON!

  • aamzdwu

    She is a sneak. she is not giving up all of her copyrights . The problem with Denise is she thinks she is smarter then everyone else and can pull the wool over everyone elses eyes. I i will never go back in there again,she is just not a nice person and the food is not that good.

  • willie joe

    You reap what you sow.

  • Hon guest

    Wow. Some harsh comments here. I hosted a bridal shower for my sister at Cafe Hon and had nothing but a good experience with the restaurant and Denise Whiting.

    • Jeff

      You’re probably a carpetbagger. A come-here transplant with no real roots in Baltimore who finds Cafe Hon to be an entertaining novelty and like to gawk at working class Baltimore women from whom the stereotypes were based.

  • honner

    Is that a typo? Shouldn’t it be sale and not scale?

  • Brian

    Seems like someone’s chickens are coming home to roost. I hope the place goes under. I especially love how she doesn’t “need to defend it anymore”. Well, last time I checked, the only person we needed to protect a long standing colloquialism from was Denise Whiting. A pox on her and Cafe HON.

  • callitlikeISeeit.

    I thought it was cool – Cafe Hon..It was nice diner atmosphere…

    However Gordan Ramsey’s food sucks so he isn’t going to help her out. I went to his restaurant in LAS Vegas and it was horrible. So if she thinks he is going to help her with the PR, then she must be mistaken. The type of people she caters to isn’t going to like her new menu either. Maybe she might have fixed the hon issue but the food might need to be reconsidered.

    • Jerry

      Nope, she never fixed the hon issue either. The woman is batting zero. Time to hang it up, Denise.

  • Steve

    What a shame. To see the lives of 50 employees be affected by the greedy decisions of the owner. The business was probably doing very well until her ego got in the way. Baltimore is a blue collar town, where ego’s of that size are and will forever be shunned. The fact that she let herself get that disconnected and lost the sense of what Baltimore is should be the reason why she should close her doors. When you connect to your customer base, especially in Baltimore, they’ll love you forever. When you loose that connection and loose that sense of community to satisfy your own ego, you seal your fate.

  • Eileen Ayers

    From day one, she looked down on the people in Hampden and I question why she picked Hampden to open a restaurant. My only answer is she thought she could take over and apparantly she doesn’t know the people of Hampden. We have been here for years. Your puny little 22-23 yrs mean nothing. So close your doors and go back home. After your antics in Hampden, I don’t think any other neighborhood wants you either

  • BYE Felicia...(Denise)

    I, personally, am grateful to this gal. She single-handedly brought Baltimore residents together. We may argue and fight like brothers and sisters, but we ARE brothers and sisters and will unite to defend our family.

    Denise, you should have admitted your folly and apologized rather than play the martyred defender of a WORD. Look what you did over a word.

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