Legal Sea Foods Owner Rebukes 'Chain' Label

Legal Sea Foods is going on the offensive, explaining in a series of TV spots why “chain” is a “four-letter word.”

Legal Sea Foods President and CEO Roger Berkowitz takes umbrage at his restaurant group being lumped in with other lobster-palooza-touting restaurants, so he stars in a series of humorous 15-second commercials.

The campaign broke throughout New England last week, and will also air in Washington; Atlanta; New York/New Jersey; and Philadelphia beginning in September. The campaign was created by Legal Sea Foods' long time ad agency, DeVito/Verdi.

Berkowitz's father, George, founded Legal Sea Foods in 1950 as a fish market in Cambridge, Mass. Eighteen years later, he opened up the first Legal Sea Foods restaurant nearby. The company has expanded from its Boston home to operate locations scattered around six more states and the District of Columbia.

Equating chain restaurants with cookie-cutter designs, soulless and unimaginative offerings and a less than stellar attitude toward seafood quality, Berkowitz is adamant that his family-owned and -operated restaurant group is anything but a chain.

In one spot, he says: "You can call me stupid, an egomaniac, even an [expletive deleted]. Just don't call me a chain." In another, he states that he turns away more fish than he serves and inspects fish more than any other restaurateur, as the camera pulls back to reveal him — à la Don Corleone — stroking a pet lobster. He concludes by saying: "No one loves seafood more than I do."

Another spot shows him hooked up to a polygraph machine. He is asked if Legal Sea Foods is a chain. There is little movement from the needles recording his answers when he replies "No." When asked "Is the person who called Legal Sea Foods a chain a complete moron?" Berkowitz again replies "No." But this time, the needles reveal that Berkowitz is not being truthful.

"We are the antithesis of a chain restaurant — look at the fanaticism we have for the freshness and quality of our seafood, or the care and detail we put into the design, menu and service at every single Legal Sea Foods location," says Berkowitz in a release. "I truly feel that 'chain' is a denigrating and completely inaccurate term for our restaurant group, and it's time we set the record straight."

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