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Judge Makes the Final Call on Whether a Taco Is a Sandwich

Ruling: Yes, it is, clearing the way for a Fort Wayne, Indiana, restaurateur to open his new eatery
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2024 9:58 AM CDT
Judge Rules That Tacos Are Actually Sandwiches
Yum.   (Getty Images/bhofack2)

Since before the pandemic, Martin Quintana has been trying to get zoning approval in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to open a second location for The Famous Taco, his Mexican-style eatery serving up tacos, burritos, and the like. This week, a judge finally issued a ruling that clears the path for that—with a critical proclamation that tacos are, indeed, sandwiches. More on the case:

  • Initial agreement: In 2019, Quintana first put in his request to open another Famous Taco location, but to get the OK, he had to sign a written deal that his new place would be a "sandwich bar-style" venue serving up "made-to-order" sandwiches, according to court documents cited by the Courier Journal. The argument then became "is a taco a sandwich," Quintana's reps said in those docs.

  • Restrictions: Per the Journal Gazette, the written commitment specifically cites examples like Subway or Jimmy John's as examples of eateries that would be OK under the deal, while other types of fast-food restaurants would not be. Sandwich shops covered by the agreement also can't have drive-thrus or outdoor seating and can't serve booze.
  • Suit: Quintana said that the local Covington Creek Association informed him that his plan for the new Famous Taco "ran afoul" of the agreement he'd signed, and so his team offered an amendment to the agreement that would permit him to sell that type of food. In December 2022, he filed a civil lawsuit against the Fort Wayne Plan Commission for rejecting that amendment, per the AP.
  • Decision day: On Monday, Judge Craig Bobay of Allen Superior Court sided with Quintana, ruling that Quintana's planned eatery actually conformed to the original written commitment and didn't even need an amendment. "The Court agrees with Quintana that tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches, and the original Written Commitment does not restrict potential restaurants to only American cuisine-style sandwiches," Bobay wrote in his decision. He added that restaurants serving "made-to-order Greek gyros, Indian naan wraps, or Vietnamese banh mi" would also fall under this umbrella, as long as they met other spelled-out conditions.
  • Reaction: Quintana, who came to the US from Mexico in 1988 and toiled as a farmworker before getting into the restaurant industry, says he's thrilled with the decision and plans to open up his new place before the end of the summer. "I'm glad this thing is over. We are happy," he tells the AP.
(More tacos stories.)

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