A popular San Diego eatery, Smokin’ J’s, faced an unexpected setback recently when it received a cease and desist order from Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games. Smokin’ J’s, renowned for its creative engagement with patrons, had found a unique way to celebrate the 2022 Comic-Con event by transforming itself into a “performative art” experience inspired by Cluckin’ Bell, a fictional fast-food chain from the popular video game series Grand Theft Auto.
Buoyed by the success and popularity of this themed experience, Smokin’ J’s had planned to recreate the experience for the upcoming Comic-Con weekend. The plans included not only the revival of the Cluckin’ Bell setup but also an addition of a “Burger Shot” event, another in-game brand, with special menus, uniforms, and themed toys.
However, the ambitious plans were halted abruptly when Take-Two Interactive intervened legally. The gaming giant, known for its protective stance on its intellectual properties, handed Smokin’ J’s a cease and desist order, forcing the restaurant to scrap its planned Burger Shot event.
Despite this setback, Smokin’ J’s remains resilient. They intend to proceed with a satirical installation for the following weekend, under a clever new name, “Don’t Cluckin’ Tell”. This move highlights the restaurant’s continued desire to offer their patrons a unique dining experience.
The actions of Take-Two Interactive have drawn disappointment and criticism from fans of both Smokin’ J’s and the Grand Theft Auto series. Many have voiced their frustration online, framing the situation as an instance of corporate heavy-handedness hindering the creative efforts of a small business trying to bring a bit of fun into people’s lives.
This isn’t the first time Take-Two Interactive has taken such stringent action to protect its brand. The company has a track record of targeting Grand Theft Auto-related activities, with modders having been on the receiving end of legal action in the past. As the debate between intellectual property rights and creative interpretation continues, businesses like Smokin’ J’s are left navigating the delicate balance.