BURNSVILLE, Minn. (FOX 9) - A longstanding beef between a Minnesota-based family restaurant and national chain Taco Johns has seemingly come to a not-so-spicy resolution.
Previously, FOX 9 detailed Taco Chon’s being sued by the chain with a similar sounding name, as the company claimed copyright infringement against the Burnsville and St. Cloud-based restaurants.
Owner Juan Ramos said his family used to own a restaurant by the same name in Mexico, and followed his dream of opening one – with his father being the namesake – in the United States.
"It’s totally two different things, John and Chon…" Ramos told FOX 9. "Changing our name is just like giving up. Giving up on a dream… If you come to America with a dream, fight for it and don’t let anybody take it away."
But in a social media post on its Facebook page, Taco Chon’s says their name has now been changed.
"I want to share with you our new name Don Chon Mexican Grill," the post reads, while also announcing it will be working on new recipes to offer patrons in the new year.
Comments on the post include statements such as, "It’s not your name that matters, it’s the quality of food and amazing individuals you have working there" and "Love the name and logo, as much as your food."
The new logo of Taco Chons, which has changed its name to Don Chon Mexican Grill.
The complaint, filed in Minnesota District Court by Taco John’s International, Inc., and Spicy Seasonings, LLC, on April 26, 2022, alleged that the two Taco Chon’s restaurants offered, "substantially similar quick service Mexican cuisine as Taco John’s and are located less than 5 miles from existing Taco John’s locations and, therefore, are likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception."
Taco John’s says in the lawsuit it started using its trademark as early as 1970, and it has "expended considerable time, money, and effort" in developing and marketing the Taco John’s brand.
It also alleges the, "Defendants’ use of the term ‘Taco Chon’ is an attempt to trade on the goodwill and commercial magnetism that Taco John’s has built up… and to free-ride on Taco John’s fame as a preeminent Mexican restaurant brand," citing trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair business practices under the Trademark Act.
The Burnsville location Taco Chon’s is 4 miles from the Taco John’s in Savage and the St. Cloud location is 1.2 miles from the Taco John’s in Waite Park.
At the time of its filing, Taco John’s had 372 locations throughout the United States, including 57 in Minnesota.
When contacted, a spokesperson for Taco John’s sent FOX 9 the following statement: "We have an important obligation to our franchisees, most of whom are small business owners themselves, to not allow others to use facsimiles of Taco John’s. We take no joy in enforcing our trademark rights in court against a small business owner and only do so after other options have been exhausted."