Monday, September 25, 2023
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Taco War Breaks Out in San Diego County

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A top-rated San Diego taco shop, Tacos El Gordo de Tijuana, sued a competitor, TJ Tacos, claiming a former manager and assistant chefs opened their own shop using trade secrets.

Tacos El Gordo got its start in Tijuana in 1951 before setting up shop in 1996 in Chula Vista, a few miles north of the international border, according to the Friday complaint in Superior Court. Today it has two outlets in the San Diego area and two more in Las Vegas, according to an article in Business Insider, which called Tacos El Gordo the top-rated taco place in the country, based on Yelp ratings.

Former manager Sabah Sluuia Hanna worked for Tacos El Gordo for about 6 years before quitting in 2012, according to the complaint. Less than six months later, in March 2013, Hanna incorporated TJ Tacos Inc.

In January, Tacos El Gordo says, its former assistant chef Hector Roman Vazquez and a relative their jobs and joined Hanna to open TJ Tacos in Escondido, north of San Diego.

Tacos El Gordo claims Hanna and Vazquez compete unfairly "by palming off products, efforts, [and] trade secrets of Tacos El Gordo as their own," violating trademark and interfering with its business.

It claims that Hanna and Vazquez knew secret food recipes, the names of suppliers and distributors and other trade secrets that Tacos El Gordo developed over 65 years.

Several customers compared the two businesses on TJ Taco's Yelp page, checked Tuesday morning. One posted: "It's just like Tacos El Gordo's twin, just up north 40 miles."

Another customer apparently thought it was a new Tacos El Gordo outlet, and wondered if the "menu has been updated at the Chula Vista location."

Tacos El Gordo seeks damages and exemplary damages for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage.

It is represented by Raymond Contreras of Chula Vista, who declined comment.

TJ Tacos did not reply to a telephone request for comment.

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