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Indiana judge opens door for new eatery, finding `tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches’

May 16, 2024, 2:14 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana judge who declared that “tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches” has cleared the way for the opening of a new restaurant, delighting a restauranteur following a legal battle.

Martin Quintana, 53, has been trying for about three years to open his second The Famous Taco location in Fort Wayne, a city about 120 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis.

But the initial written commitment for the development at a plaza Quintana owns limits the business to “a sandwich bar-style restaurant whose primary business is to sell ‘made-to-order’ or ‘subway-style’ sandwiches.”

Quintana said the nearby Covington Creek Association contacted him to say that his The Famous Taco proposal “somehow ran afoul” to that commitment.

He sued the Fort Wayne Plan Commission in December 2022 after it denied his proposed amendment that would specifically allow his restaurant to offer made-to-order tacos, burritos and other Mexican-style food items, The Journal Gazette reported.

Allen Superior Court Judge Craig Bobay ruled Monday that the plan commission acted correctly when it denied Quintan’s proposed amendment. But the judge also found that his request was not needed and he found that the original commitment allows restaurants like the proposed The Famous Taco.

“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.

Quintana said Thursday he is relieved the legal fight is over, and he is looking forward to opening his second The Famous Taco restaurant in Fort Wayne, which is Indiana’s second-most populous city with about 270,000 residents.

“I’m glad this thing is over. We are happy. When you have a decision like this the only thing you can be is happy. We’re excited,” he told The Associated Press.

Quintana said he came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1988, working first as a farm worker in California picking grapes, olives and kiwi fruit before entering the restaurant business in Michigan before moving to Chicago and finally Fort Wayne in 2001. He also operates a second restaurant in the city.

Quintana said his new family-owned The Famous Taco restaurant should open in two or three months. He said that like his other The Famous Taco location that opened nearly seven years ago, customers will be able choose their favored toppings for tacos, burritos or tortas assembled by eatery staff.

“You know, that’s a sandwich, that’s bread. That’s a sandwich,” he said of tortas. “We go through a lot of those.”

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Indiana judge opens door for new eatery, finding `tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches’