Alabama barbecue restaurant forced to change name –

Restaurant News

In October, Clyde’s BBQ owners Stan Stinson and Tina Ford received a certified letter from Clyde’s Restaurant Group, a fine dining establishment in Washington.

Turns out that D.C. venture holds a nationwide trademark of the word “Clyde’s” for restaurants and bars. Even though Stinson and Ford’s Madison restaurant had “BBQ” in its name and the other didn’t.

“We had secured the name with the Alabama Secretary of State,” Stinson says, “but as we have now learned that doesn’t account for trademarks.” Stinson and Ford had just opened Clyde’s BBQ about six months earlier. Located at 12181 County Line Road, Clyde’s excellent brisket and clever rough-hewn sides made it a rising Alabama barbecue star.

Clyde's BBQ
Pulled pork, mac and cheese, brisket and house fried pork skins at Clyde’s BBQ. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

They’d named the restaurant after their beloved dog, Clyde. After reading the certified letter, Ford’s initial reaction before fully processing the news was, “Oh no, I have to change my dog’s name?” Stinson’s reaction was “a little more intense and isn’t printable,” Ford says now.

They were given six months to change their restaurant’s name. They embraced the challenge by engaging their customers. In January, a message was posted to Clyde’s BBQ, reaching out for suggestions for a new business name. They received more than 300 suggestions, mostly via Facebook and Instagram.

And now, Clyde’s BBQ has a new name: Bark & Barrel BBQ. A customer by the name of Teal Stanford had suggested “Smoke & Barrel,” which Ford and Stinson both loved. The owners tweaked “Smoke” to “Bark,” as a nod to their restaurant’s original name and so-called bark on a piece of barbecue. “Barrel” ties-in too, as Clyde the dog was named for one of Stan’s favorite whiskeys, Clyde May’s. Stinson plans to deepen that connection with some new bourbon-tinged barbecue sauces.

This time, Ford and Stinson made sure to run a trademark search. For suggestion, Stanford will receive dinner-for-two each month for a year and new-logo emblazoned swag – and even an “autographed” photo from Clyde the dog.

Last summer, it was announced Clyde’s BBQ would open a second location. This one in Huntsville, at the Stovehouse food garden at 3414 Governors Drive S.W. Luckily, Ford and Stinson hadn’t yet ordered signage. The Stovehouse location, with new Bark & Barrel appellation, is still a go, with kitchen equipment ordered and a mid- to late-March opening targeted. They anticipate an initial staff there of about 12 employees. For the most part, the menu and pricing will match Madison. However, Stinson feels Stovehouse’s setting lends itself to brunch, so expect some new Sunday only items too. Think shrimp and grits, pulled pork on a bed of cheese grits and collards, brisket hash.

Bark & Barrel BBQ
Clyde’s BBQ in Madison is changing their name to Bark & Barrel BBQ. (Courtesy image)

Stinson and Ford first made their name as local restaurateurs with their Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza. After generating well deserved buzz as a food truck, they grew Earth and Stone into a busy brick and mortar location, at Campus No. 805, address 2600 Clinton Ave. W. Previously, they stoked a feel for barbecue while operating a second food truck, Fire & Spice, eventually sold and built into a brick and mortar too. In addition to brisket, some of Clyde’s, I mean, Bark & Barrel’s signature items include chicken wings and meatloaf specials.

Of course, there are expenses and frustrations with a rebranding like this. Stinson and Ford are trying to also see opportunities to reach new mouths and strengthen existing bonds. “Naming the restaurant after our dog Clyde really created a connection for a lot of our customers and we don’t want to lose that,” Stinson says. “Even though the name will be different, that is the only change, no food items or ownership will change.” In addition to rechristening social media accounts, a local video promotions company, CinePros, is producing content to promote the name change.

Stinson and Ford are going to keep their old photos of Clyde up in the restaurant’s dining room. Now about 8-years-old, Clyde was a stray who first came up to their house one day as Stinson was smoking brisket. “And after he got a taste of that, he kept hanging around,” Stinson says. For weeks, the couple tried to find their new furry friend’s owners, since Clyde appeared to be a well-cared for dog, but had no luck doing so. Then after Clyde was picked up by a dogcatcher, Stinson and Ford “bailed” him out and decided to make things official. “He is the most lovable and friendly dog we have ever had,” Ford says. For his part, Clyde doesn’t seem to mind a restaurant is no longer named in his honor. “We have reassured him,” Sinson says, “that he will still be our best fed taste tester.”


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