By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Eating Our Words
Lawyers for the plaintiff discovered that shortly after he left Torchy's, DeJesus began working for Texas Taco Co., driving 40 miles each way from his home every day to do so. Lawyers for Torchy's argue that DeJesus wouldn't be making an 80-mile round-trip drive for work every day for his $10-an-hour paycheck. They believe he was employed by Texas Taco Co. prior to being fired and that he received a substantial amount of money from the owners of Texas Taco Co., ARK Dudes, in exchange for the proprietary information contained in the Taco Bible.
On June 7, 2013, Success Foods Management Group, the owners of Torchy's Tacos, filed a temporary restraining order against DeJesus. The court decided that "there is a substantial likelihood that Defendant Mario DeJesus has engaged in wrongful conduct, including misappropriation of trade secrets and breaches of duties owed to Torchy's, related to competitive activities and Torchy's confidential information that DeJesus is in a position to use on behalf of a competing business." The court went on to note that DeJesus's continuing actions could cause "immediate and irreparable injury" to Torchy's business.
DeJesus claims that he had not been in contact with Texas Taco Co. prior to being fired from Torchy's. He says that he saw the Texas Taco Co. restaurant in Baytown and decided to apply for a job there. Based on his testimony, he does not seem to think there's anything suspicious about driving 40 miles to get to a job that pays $10 an hour and isn't always a full-time position.
Brittany Platt, marketing director for Torchy's Tacos, says Texas Taco Co. is in the wrong.
"Honestly, we'd like for them to stop," Platt said when asked what the company hoped to achieve with the lawsuit. "I think we agree it's a pretty poor business practice, and we're trying to rally the troops and clear the air. People think that we're affiliated, and we're not."
We were also able to get in touch with the lawyer for Texas Taco Co., Matthew Hoeg, who said that the claims being made by Torchy's are false.
"There's this allegation that there's a videotape of my client supposedly stealing the Taco Bible, but there's no such tape, because it didn't happen," Hoeg says. "Their story is that they misplaced or lost it." Hoeg also says Torchy's claims someone at the company lost the confidentiality agreement that his client supposedly signed.
As for the menu overlaps?
"Did my guys like the notion of what they do?" Hoeg asks. "Sure. Were they trying to imitate the things that succeed there? Sure. The menu isn't secret. They don't own that concept."
Hoeg is vehement that his clients, DeJesus and ARK Dudes, have done nothing wrong and that Torchy's has been very reluctant to hand over incriminating information, including the surveillance tape and the confidentiality agreement.
"We don't have and have never had their stupid Taco Bible," Hoeg says. "Nor do we want it."
The new Texas Taco Co. that was supposed to open in Friendswood appears to still be closed, and the phone number listed for that location is not working.
Here is a comparison of some other items on the menus at Torchy's and Texas Taco Co.:
Torchy's "Mr. Orange" — Blackened salmon topped with a grilled corn and black bean relish, queso fresco and cilantro. Drizzled with AVOCADO SAUCE then served with a wedge of lime on a corn tortilla.
Texas Taco Co.'s "Poncho Lefty" — Blackened salmon topped with a roasted corn & black bean salsa, queso fresco and cilantro, drizzled with AVOCADO SAUCE, served with a wedge of lime on a corn tortilla.
Torchy's "The Independent" — Hand-battered and fried portobello mushroom strips with refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilantro and avocado. Drizzled with ancho aioli on a flour tortilla.
Texas Taco Co.'s "William Travis" — Hand-battered and fried Portobello mushroom strips with refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilantro & avocado. Drizzled with ancho aioli on a flour tortilla.
And lest you think it's tacos only...
Torchy's "Grande Burrito" — Your choice of beef, chicken, pork or veggies served with rice, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Wrapped in a 12" flour tortilla.
Texas Taco Co.'s "Big Bad Bandito Burrito" — Your choice of beef, chicken, pork or veggies served with rice, beans, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream & guacamole. Choice of sauce and wrapped in a 12" flour tortilla.
Torchy's "Green Chile Queso & Chips" — Torchy's homemade chips with delicious green chile queso topped off with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro & diablo sauce.
Texas Taco Co.'s "Green Chile Queso & Chips" — Homemade chips with delicious green chile queso topped off with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro & DIABLO sauce.
Openings and Closings
Goodbye, Zushi, welcome back MF Sushi and hello Allô.
We heard of only one restaurant closing its doors last week (and it came without much of a shock).
It wasn't much longer after the Zushi on Memorial Drive at Westcott closed that the other Zushi location, in the Energy Corridor, shut its doors. Sushi Club of Houston President Carl Rosa reports on the club's Facebook page that the only remaining Zushi in Houston has officially closed. In one of the comments about the announcement, Rosa writes, "The management and ownership of the restaurant had no experience offering quality sushi and operating a restaurant. I worked with them for several months to establish a database and customer relationships...but inevitably, I had to excuse myself from Zushi altogether. There was no strategy, no mission, no focus and no genuine interest. The owners were never there. They used to watch the entire restaurant from video cameras in their home. They would visit Zushi once every two weeks."