Thursday, October 16, 2008

Justus Drugstore Update

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM

By OWEN MORRIS

justus_drugstore.jpg

Back in the summer when this blog was just getting started, we were able to break the news that Bill Raney and the ACLU would represent Justus Drugstore in its fight to save its name after the Missouri Board of Pharmacy filed a case against the restaurant for having the word "drugstore" in the title.

That was nearly three months ago. Since then, Justus' case has been doing the legal limbo through Missouri's courts only to be shelved by the Missouri Pharmacy until next year.

By then Jonathan Justus hopes the Missouri legislature will pass a law that's now being crafted in Jefferson City, saying something to the effect that, in order for a non-drugstore's name to be offensive to the pharmacy board, the "wording must be a purposeful attempt to deceive the public."

As Justus explains, the name Justus Drugstore has historic value -- his family used to run Justus Drugstore when it was an actual drugstore -- and changing the name would have at minimum led to brand and award confusion. He also faced a hefty fine and the loss of his liquor license. "It wasn't just the restaurant that was being sued, it was the LLC. They wanted me to change that and the way I understand the law, that would mean having to reapply for a liquor license."

He says he's still amazed by how much support he got and the interesting bedfellows this case made. "I can't say enough about Bill Raney. I mean I never would have thought the ACLU would be defending me ever. In a million years! ... As for [state senator] Luann Ridgeway, what can I say? She went to bat for us. She knows we differ politically on different things but I respect that she went out there and fought the battle in a very upfront way. I respect her immensely."

Now that the case is on the back burner, Justus has many other things to worry about -- like what's on the literal back burner. "I know everybody thinks their business is hard work but I think most people know that restaurants are really, really hard. I'm just trying to keep my day-to-day shit together. My pastry chef is leaving to start her own bakery and I need to find a replacement. I'm gearing up for the holidays. Then there's this financial melt-down. I'd say 75 percent of my clientele owns stocks and while I've been fortunate not to slowdown, I don't want to take chances."

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