Captain Calabash not ready to say goodnight to Miss Calabash

A new Calabash eatery has a new name, but it’s only temporary.

“Captain Calabash” is the new moniker for a new seafood buffet eatery that opened May 4 at 10001 Beach Drive.

Owners Mike Abdou and Ahamed “Mike” El Rayes previously planned to name their new restaurant “Miss Calabash Buffet & Grill.” But native restaurateurs in the Seafood Capital objected.

Cousins Shaun Bellamy and Crystal Coleman-Nixon, respective owners of Ella’s and Beck’s and Coleman’s Original Calabash restaurants, took legal action and filed for trademark rights for use of the names “Miss Calabash” and “Mrs. Calabash.”

They sought help from Washington, D.C., attorney William J. Sauers, who in April sent Abdou and El Rayes a letter asking them to cease-and-desist immediately from any planned use of “Miss Calabash” or “Mrs. Calabash” before they opened.

That put the naming of the new eatery in limbo.

Bellamy and Coleman-Nixon claim rights to the names because it touches on family history, dating back to the 1940s when legendary entertainer Jimmy Durante is said to have visited the Calabash restaurant of family matriarch Lucy Coleman.

Family members say it was that visit that inspired Durante’s trademark sign-off, “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”

Bellamy said they “didn’t want someone to come in and capitalize on our family history. We didn’t want people to come in and see ‘Miss Calabash’ and think that must be where Jimmy Durante ate.”

Abdou said last week he chose “Miss Calabash” in March before Bellamy and Coleman-Nixon filed for trademark rights.

He said he is using “Captain Calabash” only as an alternative name until the matter is resolved. And he said he has retained his own attorney to look into the matter.

Do you know of news in the restaurant realm in Brunswick County? If so, send it to Food for Thought atllewis@brunswickbeacon.comor call Laura Lewis at The Brunswick Beacon at (910) 754-6890.