Coquins Pizza - 300x300 - © 2020 Coquins

Pizza Plagiarism: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Sell Theirs

Remember the post we featured here in October 2017, about a restaurant in Long Beach California which was re-selling Popeye’s Chicken as their own? Now, a South Carolina resto has been accused of selling Costco Pizzas as their own – at a breathtaking markup…

Coquins Pizza -sm - © 2020 CoquinsA Coquin’s Pizza, before the delivery ordering menu webpage was shut down.
Did they just dress up Plain Cheese Costco Pies?

The original story, about Sweet Dixie Kitchen in CA, related how the proprietors loved Popeye’s Fried Chicken so much that they put it on their own menu – without asking or telling Popeye’s, or informing their customers. When confronted about the fraud, the clued-out owner posted a notice that that ‘Sweet Dixie Kitchen PROUDLY serves Popeye’s Chicken’. She just didn’t get it, even after the scandal broke. If you have a restaurant you’re expected to make your own food, not resell the culinary creations of others with the implication that they are yours.

Pizza, in a dangerous time

Now a Charleston, South Carolina resto has been accused of selling Costco Pizzas as their own, at as much as a 700 percent mark-up.

Coquin, described in a Charleston Post and Courier story as ‘a 5-month-old wine bar on Spring Street’, posted a Delivery Pizza menu on its website last weekend, offering, “gourmet Roman-style thin crust pizza, with house made marinara sauce and whole milk mozzarella.”

But a Post and Courier reporter became suspicious after hearing stories from members of Coquin’s staff, and eventually watched as the resto’s Chef/owner left the establishment after receiving a Pizza order, went to his apartment nearby, and emerged a short time later carrying several Pizza boxes reading ‘Fresh Pizza, Oven Baked’. The reporter subsequently discovered several 4-Pizza cartons from Kirkland’s Signature Cheese Pizza with Breadcrumb Crusts in the resto’s dumpster. The 4-pack usually sells at Costco for no more than (US)$10.

Not a straight ripoff

Granted, it appears that Coquin was using the plain Cheese Pizzas as bases for what you might call their own creations, adding various selections of meats and vegetables per the customers’ orders. But I maintain that a pre-made, commercial frozen Pizza cannot lay claim to being a mere ingredient in a somewhat grander Pie.

A flat denial

Coquin’s top dog, Chip Grimalda, flatly denied that he was representing Costo Pizzas as his own. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s definitely not Costco, and that’s all I have to say.”

He went as far as to suggest that people staying in nearby AirBnBs might be using his dumpster to dispose of their garbage.

Delivery cancelled

While Grimalda remains staunch that he was not cheating, selling mass-market Pizzas as his own, and has taken down the online Pizza Menu. He gave the Post and Courier a hint that he was having trouble making ends meet running the resto on its own merits:

“Everyone who’s ordered it has given us rave reviews,” Grimalda stated. “Right now, we’re still getting [the needed] ingredients in. That may change in the future, but we’re just trying to, you know, make it through to the next week.”

My take

Whether or not the alleged Costco crusts are mere ingredients or a substantial constituent of Coquin’s Pies, you still can’t justify reselling them dressed up with a few extra ingredients for $18 to m$20 each no matter how rave the reviews. And it’s downright fraud to claim a Pizza is a, “gourmet Roman-style thin crust pizza, with house made marinara sauce and whole milk mozzarella,” if it’s not.

We understand that Grimalda was, “just trying […] to make it through to the next week,” but – if he was cheating – he should have found another way.

Odd to note, though…

Many Fast Food joints routinely use pre-made, frozen ingredients in their operations, to simplify storage and ensure consistency in the end product across the chain. Just a thought, but if Grimalda has bought pre-made crusts or even basic Cheese Pizzas from a regular wholesale supplier, would he still have been committing Pizza plagiarism? Most Doughnut shops now receive their products fully made and flash frozen. All they do is heat them up. Where do you draw the line?

~ Maggie J.’s