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Wyoming-Based Taco John’s Suing Minnesota Restaurant Taco Chon For Trademark Infringement

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming-based restaurant chain Taco John’s is suing a Minnesota restaurant, Taco Chon, accusing it of “willfully and deliberately” infringing on the Wyoming company’s trademark.

Taco John’s International, Inc. and Spicy Seasonings LLC filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, alleging that Taco Chon owner Juan Ramos is infringing on Taco John’s trademark of its name.

The companies accused Ramos of opening two quick-service Mexican cuisine restaurants similar to Taco John’s under the name “Taco Chon” within 5 miles of Taco John’s restaurants in Minnesota, which is “likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception.”

Taco Chon has locations in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which is just over 1 mile away from a Taco John’s, and Burnsville, Minnesota, which is 4 miles away from a Taco John’s franchise.

“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 in the [trademark] and to free-ride on Taco John’s fame as a preeminent Mexican restaurant brand,” attorneys for Taco John’s said in court filings this week.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Ramos in the wake of the lawsuit, with a goal of raising $150,000. A little over $1,000 had been raised as of Friday morning.

“I [am] helping Juan Ramos keeping his American dream alive! Every dollar counts together we can save a dream! Together we can fight with Juan Ramos against the monster of the injustice! Let’s stop the dream killer! Let’s save Taco Chon Mexican Grill! God Bless you all,” the GoFundMe description read.

Ramos did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.

However, Ramos told a Minnesota TV news outlet this week he has never been to a Taco John’s and that his food is different from the franchise’s. He also said he intended to fight the lawsuit and would represent himself in court, if necessary.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Taco John’s said they weren’t pleased they had to pursue a legal route to remedy the situation.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Taco John’s is no stranger to filing lawsuits to protect its trademarks.

The company has sent “cease and desist” letters to other restaurants over their use of the slogan “Taco Tuesday,” which it trademarked in 1989.

In 2006, Taco John International sued Taco Del Mar, alleging one of its restaurants in Colorado used the slogan to advertise its Tuesday specials.

The lawsuit was dismissed at the request of all parties three months after it was filed.

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Taco John’s to open satellite office in Minneapolis

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Taco Johns

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Taco John’s is expanding its corporate office to Minnesota, the restaurant’s president and CEO announced Monday morning. 

At a press conference, Jim Creel told reporters that the Cheyenne-based corporation will open a satellite office in Minneapolis. He stated that the idea to expand came about two years ago when he instituted a strategic planning process. 

During that process, the company’s board of directors agreed that the expansion should be inside the restaurant’s existing area of operation, which would allow for the greatest potential of growth. Since there are more than 200 Taco John’s locations within a few hours drive from Minneapolis, the board felt expanding to that area made the most sense. 

“This is an exciting time for Taco John’s,” Creel said in a news release. “We have taken a number of steps over the past two years to lay the foundation for expansion. In order for it to take place, we decided that we needed to have a presence where it was all happening.” 

Creel told Cowboy State Daily that he expected the satellite office to open in March 2020, with around 15 staffers holding down the fort. Only a few employees from the Cheyenne headquarters will make the transition to the Minnesota, with most of the rest being new hires. 

“When we’re driving from Cheyenne to Denver to fly out to Minneapolis, we’re losing most of the day,” he told CSD. “It’s the same when we return. The chain will benefit from having our people out working with the franchisees more consistently.” 

With the announcement, Creel said he’s had potential franchisees contact him about opening new locations in the Minneapolis area.  

While some franchisee-oriented departments will be centered in Minneapolis, most of the corporation will continue to be headquartered in Cheyenne, since that’s where the restaurant chain was founded more than 50 years ago. Creel added that the impact of the expansion to the Cheyenne headquarters would be minimal and should only last for a short time. 

“Concurrently, it makes good business sense for departments that provide direct franchisee support to be located where the majority of the franchisees and future franchisees are located,” he said in his news release. 

Taco John’s recent successes made the opportunity for expansion much easier, with a new menu and restaurant redesign that’s soon to be  adopted across the country. The store on Cheyenne’s South Greeley Highway was the first to feature this prototype.  

Creel added that he expected expansion in the Cheyenne headquarters would occur at some point in the future, but he said it was too early to specify what changes might take place.

However, Creel did note that he thinks there will be around 15 new stores opening in 2020 and 20 opening the following year, a rapid growth compared to the company’s normal opening schedule. Creel stated that the ultimate goal for Taco John’s is to have around 500 to 600 stores in the country. Right now, the company is looking to expand in cities including Kansas City, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska, St. Louis and certain cities in Kentucky. 

Currently, Taco John’s operates and franchises around 400 stores in 23 states.

“We wouldn’t have been able to expand had we not put together back-to-back outstanding years,” he said in the news release. “I have been with Taco John’s for 20 years now and I haven’t seen excitement like this in the franchisee community.”

Jonah Bank and Taco John’s Raise More than 14k for Suicide Prevention

in News/Community/Business
Jonah Bank and Taco Johns team up for suicide prevention

Jonah Bank and Taco John’s teamed up for the third year in a row to raise money for suicide prevention with Grace For 2 Brothers — a Cheyenne-based suicide prevention organization.

This year, more than $14,500 was raised and the funds will be distributed to suicide prevention centers across Wyoming.

Invention of Taco Johns potato ole

in Food and Beverage/Business

By Cowboy State Daily

If you’ve ever eaten at a Taco Johns you know about the potato ole.

That crispy, crunchy, salty, seasoned tater tot so good you would never call it just a tater tot. But how did the potato ole become a central player on the menu of a Mexican fast-food joint?

We’ve got the skinny on the history of the deep fried delicacy that almost burned out before it blew up as a west-Mex sensation.

There’s a whole lotta Mexican goin’ on: Taco 🌮 Johns celebrates 50

in News/Business

“If you’ve got a tiger by the tail, hang on. I knew this was a tiger and I was ready to go right then,” that’s how Taco Johns co-founder Harold Holmes remembers deciding to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure that started in Cheyenne, Wyoming and grew to hundreds of restaurants over 50 years.

Taco Johns celebrates 50 years in business this week and we’ve got the skinny on how a humble taco stand on Carey Ave. – that was built in a week – turned into a national fast-food chain serving tacos (and potato oles) to fans in 23 states.

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