Fire at Hillside, and Rooster Trouble at Gallo

Word spread like wildfire yesterday about Hillside Spot's fire -- seems like a lot of people wanted to hit it up for Sunday breakfast -- but the blaze itself was brief and well contained.

Yesterday morning, a spark from the rotisserie at the Ahwatukee restaurant created a fire in the hood that shut things down for the day. Everything on the line in the kitchen was automatically doused in a salt solution from the kitchen's fire suppression system, and the gas line was automatically shut off as well.

"We're very lucky nobody got hurt," says owner Doug Robson. "The equipment got cleaned, and today we're already open. We got everything situated."

That's not the only sigh of relief Robson's breathing right now.

He just avoided getting sued by Gallo Vineyards over the trademark for Gallo Blanco Cafe, his CenPho eatery.

"They put in a letter of opposition in the trademark," he explains. Robson faced what could have been a $100K litigation.

("Gallo blanco" means white rooster -- hence the restaurant's logo -- but is also Latin slang for "white dude," a reference to the fact that people don't realize Robson's a Mexico City native.)

But somehow he's worked out a solution with the wine giant, whom he says is being "gracious."

"We keep the name Gallo Blanco Cafe, but lose the rooster. And I could never open another Gallo Blanco. I have six months," Robson says.

Yep, you heard it right. The rooster has six months to live. Robson plans on creating a whimsical Dia de los Muertos-style rooster t-shirt that says, "Corporate America Stole My Skin."

In the meantime, he's also trying to figure out a new mascot for his hip Mexican restaurant.

Got any suggestions? Post your ideas in the comments section.

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Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig