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110,000 People Sign Petition in Support of Taqueria After Legal Threat From Competitor

Worldwide Taqueria which owns the trademark for “taqueria” in the UK, hit Sonora Taqueria, owned by Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier, with a cease and desist earlier this month. More than 110,000 people are unimpressed by the action.

Michelle Salazar de la Rocha beneath colourful flags in the kitchen at the kitchen she and partner Sam Napier have consulted on for Arcade food hall at Centre Point
Michelle Salazar de la Rocha in the kitchen at Mexa, the kitchen she and partner Sam Napier have consulted on for Arcade food hall at Centre Point
Michaël Protin/Eater London

More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition in support of Sonora Taqueria, the Mexican-owned London business which was hit with a legal threat over its use of the word “taqueria” from a restaurant competitor in early September.

Lawyers representing Worldwide Taqueria, which owns restaurants in Notting Hill and on Exmouth Market, wrote to Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier, directors of Sonora Taqueria, who until recently operated a street food stall in Netil Market, Hackney, to inform them of the alleged infringement of Taqueria’s trade mark. It demanded that Sonora cease using the word “taqueria” in its name and across all of its branding.

“We continue to be amazed by the response from people about the case. It’s encouraging to read words of support amongst also a lot of outrage on our behalf,” Salazar told Eater on Thursday 29 September.

Following the threat Sonora’s owners — who between times have launched a new ceviche and birria concession called Mexa at Arcade Food Hall — said they believed they had a case and could fight the charge. Salazar said then, “If you can’t even call your taco place a taqueria, where do you even start?”

Consternation on the internet and international media attention soon followed. Many onlookers were aligned with Sonora’s owners who felt it was unfair to trademark a generic term.

“STOP CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. Stop the trademark of TAQUERIA,” the Change petition demands. The Instagram account and blog MexiBrit is behind the petition, which launched in mid-September.

“Did you know that Taqueria means? Simply a place that sells tacos. The same as a pizzeria, bakery, or cevicheria: a place that sells x.... A Mexican word that you see absolutely everywhere in Mexico, the USA, and many other places in the world, its not a trademark and it doesn’t belong to anyone, it belongs to all!” MexiBrit writes, encouraging signatories for its petition.

“Its time we stop the greedy TAQUERIA UK from wrongly-owning this trademark in the UK, so all taco restaurants can add Taqueria to their name, just the way it should be.

“The Mexican UK community is outraged and we won’t stop until we see justice.”

Paola Feregrino from MexiBrit told Eater London: “We are delighted to see people power against such a ridiculous and offensive matter here with regards of this ‘trademark’ that to us, takes advantage of our Mexican culture and gastronomy for one’s benefit.

“Its simply not right! The Mexican community and Mexico enthusiasts in the UK will carry on showing our disagreement and do what we can to support new future taquerias.”

Salazar told Eater that she and Napier were aware that a petition was unlikely to be the sole reason for Worldwide to drop the case, but, she said, “it shines a light on how much this matters to people and in particular to Mexicans.”

“Local newspapers and publications in Mexico continue to write about this and, to be honest, it stopped being about us a while ago,” Salazar said. “It’s now about entitlement, cultural pride, and the need to fight for something, even if it’s small in the grand scheme of things, that means a lot to us as a country.”

By lunchtime of the 4 October, 116,864 have signed in support of Sonora.

Worldwide Taqueria did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the petition.

Taqueria

141-145 Westbourne Grove, , England W11 2RS 020 7229 4734 Visit Website

Sonora Taquería

13-23 Westgate Street, , England E8 3RL Visit Website

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