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Wednesday
Oct272010

New York Water at Heart of Florida Lawsuits

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Want to know what makes New York bagels taste so good?

Local lore says the secret is in the city's drinking water. But to two Florida restaurants, the water-bagel connection is more than myth, it's the stuff that lawsuits are made of.

Convinced that New York City drinking water contributes to better baked goods, the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. of Delray Beach, Florida, and Mamma Mia's Trattoria & Brick Oven Pizzeria of Lake Worth, Florida., have locked horns in a legal battle over technology purported to "Brooklynize" water.

According to a document filed with the 15th Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida, Brooklyn Water claims that through the purchase of baking equipment Mamma Mia misappropriated the company's trade secrets and confidential information for its own benefit.

In a countersuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Mamma Mia's says Brooklyn Water falsely advertises that it has a patent on the replication process, thereby deceiving the public and deterring competition.

"You've heard of the Coca-Cola formula? You've heard of the [Kentucky Fried Chicken's] 11 herbs and spices that's locked away under lock and key? Now you're hearing of our trade secret," said Ira Marcus, senior vice president and general counsel for the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.

In 2007, Steven Fassberg, the company's president, CEO and founder, started investigating the composition of New York water, Marcus said.

"He knew that what was in the water made a difference as to making bread, bagels and pizza dough," Marcus said. "He thought that if he could understand how that all worked, we could use a process [so that] wherever we were locally, we could replicate an authentic New York bagel and, ultimately, pizza."

Marcus declined to elaborate on the water's composition, but said that certain elements in the typically soft New York water react especially positively with the yeast in the bread's recipe.

Once Fassberg and his team analyzed the water to identify those key elements, he said, they worked with a water treatment equipment manufacturer and, through trial and error, developed a process that consistently gives local water the same properties as New York water. 

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