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Astor-Place-Wegmans (1).png Wegmans

Petition to shut down Wegmans’ fish market gets 4,000 signatures

The retailer was hit with a lawsuit last week contending the market is a knockoff

Some 4,000 people have signed a petition to shut down Wegmans’ Manhattan fish market following claims of fraud, breach of contracts, trademark infringement, and more.

The retailer was hit with a lawsuit last week which contends that the fish market inside its newly opened Manhattan location is a knockoff of an existing East Village fish and sushi business called Osakana. 

The petition, created by Yuji Haraguchi, the founder and the owner of Osakana, was first posted on Jan. 19. The petition now has close to 4,000 signatures with a goal of 5,000.  

Last year, Haraguchi decided to sell Osakana, which first opened in 2016. In the lawsuit, Haraguchi alleges that three companies — Culimer USA, Red Shell Sushi, and Culinary Collaborations — gained knowledge of secrets related to his business via that potential sale and then brought those secrets to Wegmans, according to the claim filed Feb. 20.

Located on Astor Place, a one-block street in lower Manhattan, the 87,500-square-foot Wegmans store opened its doors in October with a seafood concept called Sakanaya, an authentic Japanese-style fish market which has fresh fish delivered from the Toyosu Fish Market in Japan. The store also has an omakase experience (coursed sushi), a first for Wegmans.

According to Haraguchi, Wegmans is selling fish from the same vendors he uses in Japan. And even the name of the Wegmans fish market is confusing. Osakana, Haraguchi’s business, is a “Sakanaya,” the Japanese word that means fish market. 

“Wegmans has a social responsibility to coexist with so many small businesses in the neighborhood…They can’t just copy and paste. That’s ethically wrong,” Haraguchi told Supermarket News.

“My biggest worry is how much can I fight?” he added. “It’s like, I’ll need to fight as long as I need to, but there is only so much I can afford.”

Osakana isn’t the first New York business venture for Haraguchi, 43, who also started the dual restaurant concepts Okonomi and Yuji Ramen. 

Haraguchi said he had been planning to sell Osakana to retire with his family to Hawaii. That plan has now been put on hold due to the opening of the Wegmans fish market.

Wegmans did not reply to repeated requests for comment on the lawsuit.

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