Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Friday, September 14, 2018

White Dudes are Actually Suing Over Who Has Legal Right To Appropriate Day of the Dead Checklist Taco Restaurants

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 1:24 PM

  • Interior of Barrio | Scene Archives
The owners of Barrio, the extremely popular Northeast Ohio chain of build-your-own taco restaurants, are taking a former business partner to court for gimmick infringement.  Barrio's "Day of the Dead" (or Día de Muertos for those that actually practice the sacred holiday and don't appropriate it as a quirky design choice) aesthetic and the use-a-checklist-to-design-a-taco ordering style are also on display at the Condado Tacos chain.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland last week and first reported by, alleges that Joe Kahn and others behind Condado Tacos stole "trade secrets" and violated an agreement Kahn entered into when he left a business partnership with Tommy Leneghan and Sean Fairbairn, the team that created Barrio.

Before exiting, Kahn agreed not to do business under the name Barrio, to not use "any logo, trademark or service mark associated" with Barrio, which included the phrase "in the heart of..." Kahn also agreed not to open a Mexican restaurant within a two-mile radius of Barrio's locations for two years.

To be fair, Kahn technically didn't do any of those things. He merely opened his own chain of use-a-checklist-to-make-your-own-taco restaurants decked out in white-dudes appropriating Day of the Dead "sugar skull" style interior design that delivers food in tin foil and plastic baskets in Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

For comparison, here's a photo of Condado Tacos that Barrio provided as part of its lawsuit.
  • Condato Tacos | Lawsuit Submitted Photo

Whether or not their double-decker shells can hold a candle to the double-decker "stoner shell" of Barrio is up for debate.

Barrio hasn't seemed to have any issue with Condado Tacos' expanding popularity, until now. Kahn recently announced his plan to open a Condado Tacos in Northeast Ohio as part of the oh-so-small-business-friendly Pinecrest Development in Orange Village, meaning Condado is officially creeping in on Barrio's northeast Ohio turf.

The similarities between the two places are undeniable, but whether or not Barrio has a winning case due to Kahn's agreement (which expired in 2016) not to open a restaurant within two miles of Barrio will be up to the courts.

Then again, by definition, "Barrio" means "a district of a town in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries" and "Condado" translates to just "county."

So clearly, they're totally different places.

Tags: , , , , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Comments (15)

Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation