Behold the Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman of build-your-own-taco shops
On the surface, the news seems harmless enough, with Cleveland-based Barrio Tacos having just announced that it would open its first Columbus location in Grandview Heights this year.
But the move puts Barrio squarely in competition with fast-growing Columbus chain Condado Tacos, this just two years after Barrio co-owners Tommy Leneghan and Sean Fairbairn sued their former business partner (and current Condado co-owner) Joe Kahn, alleging that he stole the look, feel and concept of Barrio in creating Condado.
The two chains are undeniably similar, from the origins of their names (condado translates to “county,” while a barrio is the spanish speaking quarter of a town) down to the menus, both of which center on build-your-own tacos and include shell options combining soft flour and hard corn tortillas with queso and chorizo (Ju-Ju at Condado, Stoner at Barrio) and soft flour and hard corn tortillas with queso and guac (Sweet Lucy and Green Goddess, respectively).
Oh, and read the following paragraph, taken from a recent press release celebrating the opening of a new store location, and try to guess which of the two it was written in reference to:
The space will undergo an artistic renovation that is vintage chic [TACO SHOP]. Working with local artisans, the trademark “Day of the Dead” artwork and steelwork will don the interior, while vibrant murals will pop the outside and anchor the best patio in [LOCATION].
If you guessed Condado, you were completely… wrong.
But you could just have easily been right!
Though the Barrio press release never mentions Condado by name, there are indirect shots fired throughout, with several references to Barrio being the originator of the build-your-own-taco concept, like an internet commenter logging on with a "first!" Not that either chain is really reinventing the wheel here, despite the Barrio press release making note of its “trademark free chips and salsa,” which frankly feels a bit like Ohio State attempting to coin the word “the.”
The taco wars are coming. You better choose a side and a shell, because that taco isn’t going to build itself.