Sugarfire accuses Kirkwood restaurant of stealing food pictures

KIRKWOOD, Mo. - Sugarfire Smokehouse has beef with another barbecue restaurant in the St. Louis area. Sugarfire is accusing Honey Pit Smokehouse in Kirkwood of stealing pictures of food from its website and posting them on Honey Pit's website.

Sugarfire's lawyer, Albert Watkins, has sent a cease and desist letter to Honey Pit. Watkins says "Like barbecue itself, this has the potential for getting real messy real quick."

There are allegations of fraud in a St. Louis barbecue battle.

The owner of the popular Sugarfire restaurants accuses another restaurant of using photos of Sugarfire's food as its own.

Sugarfire founder Mike Johnson paid for the mouth-watering photos featured on his website, said his attorney, Al Watkins.

When a former Sugarfire worker opened the new Honeypit Smokehouse restaurant in Kirkwood just before the new year, at least a couple of the photos on Honeypit’s website looked extremely familiar, Watkins said.

“Honeypit puts on their website photographs of the food of Sugarfire.  Any good barbecue aficionado knows no two barbecues are the same.  Don’t mess with the sanctity of a barbecue master; not in this town,” Watkins said.

Side-by-side comparisons of the brisket sandwich on Sugarfire’s site and the brisket sandwich on Honeypit’s site Thursday showed the photos were of the same sandwich; same for the restaurants’ cheeseburgers.

Watkins sent Honeypit’s owners a “cease and desist” letter saying, “Sugarfire welcomes the competition, may the best rib win.”

The letter also demands Honeypit stop using the photos immediately.

“Agree in writing never to do it again. By the way, you do all that, we’re all good, come on by, we’ll give you a cheeseburger,” Watkins said.

The Sugarfire photos on Honeypit’s website had been removed Friday.

One of Honeypit’s owners declined an interview with Fox2/KPLR 11 but blamed the problem on the person he hired to create the website.

“The buck stops somewhere. When you own a business, big business or small business, the guy in charge is the guy who sits on the buck. In this case it’s tremendously disingenuous to say, ‘ehhh, the web guy did it,’" Watkins said.

Honeypit has 15 days to respond in writing or face legal action under Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act, Watkins said.