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Video: Long Beach Taquería Owner Appears to Assault Street Taco Vendor Working In Front of Restaurant

In a video posted by Tacos La Juquilita, a street taco stand located at 6595 Atlantic Avenue, the owner of a local taquería chain with five locations appears to grab and smash a phone belonging to one of the taco stand’s employees as they recorded the altercation.

6:01 PM PST on January 8, 2024

The latest incident in L.A. County’s taco turf wars occurred last Thursday night in Long Beach. 

In a series of eight videos posted by Tacos La Juquilita, a street taco stand located at 6595 Atlantic Avenue, the owner of La Taquería Brand, local taquería chain with five locations, appears to grab and smash a phone belonging to one of the taco stand’s employees as they recorded the altercation. 

In the video, a person talking on a cellphone, alleged to be the owner of La Taquería Brand, quietly strides up to the person recording the video, grabs it, and presumably smashes the phone onto the ground, making the posted video blur out as it cuts off.

In a separate video posted that same day on Tacos La Juquilita’s Instagram account, the business accuses staff behind the soon-to-open fifth location of La Taquería Brand of setting up yellow caution tape over the portion of the sidewalk where Tacos La Juquilita set up months before.

“The owner of the taquería sent me to tell you that you can’t set up [your taco stand] here on the curb anymore,” a man with shorts, sunglasses, a baseball cap, and shin-high socks says in the video. “The shop owner didn’t tell me why you can’t. He says you can’t be here.”  

Comments across the videos posted on La Taquería Juquilita’s account mostly support the street vendor, but some also share their empathy with the brick-and-mortar, rationalizing the aggression of La Taquería Brand’s owner by saying that “brick and mortar businesses pay taxes” and arguing, “why should a stand be able to set up outside?” 

This incident is the latest in taquero-on-taquero altercations that are commonplace in Los Angeles’ cutthroat taco scene. Sometimes, it’s been witnessed between a brick-and-mortar versus a food truck, and sometimes it is a taco truck versus a taco stand

Despite claims that street vendors take customers from nearby brick-and-mortar businesses, research by Economic Roundtable has shown the opposite effect, on the general basis that street vendors activate public spaces like curbs and streets that would otherwise be empty, resulting in more foot traffic and by extent, more business for the brick and mortar. 

In many cases, the kind of customer who seeks out quick-service take-out food from a stand is different than the type of customer who seeks a full-service restaurant with indoor seating, restrooms, and oftentimes, alcohol for sale. 

Further research by the Berkeley Journal of Sociology shows that many street vendors resort to selling food on the street as their only option to find work in cities due to having undocumented immigration status. One report found that up to 25% of undocumented Latinos don’t have conventional bank accounts due to their fear of deportation.

Street vending was legalized in California in 2018. Long Beach Senator Lena Gonzalez is also the author of a bill that will finally change the language in local health departments to be more inclusive of street vending operations, such as street taco stands like Tacos La Juquilita. 

L.A. TACO contacted La Taquería Brand via email and spoke on the phone with a representative. They did not give an immediate statement on record but said they were going to send one “ASAP.” 

L.A. TACO also reached out to the Long Beach Police Department. An officer said that there is no statement yet, They will post one tomorrow. 

L.A. TACO will update this story as it develops. 

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