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October 30, 2014

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Joe Downtown:

Joe Downtown: Against councilman’s wish, Pinches Tacos will stay Pinches Tacos

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Courtesy The Downtown Project

An artist’s rendering of the shipping container development planned for Seventh and East Fremont.

Container Park Construction

The Mantis is seen after being installed at the Container Park downtown Friday, July 26, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The fight over the name of a Mexican restaurant destined for the downtown Container Park is over.

Pinches Tacos is going to keep its name, despite a Las Vegas councilman’s suggestion to change it to something he feels would be less offensive.

Councilman Bob Coffin, whose ward includes the container park, said Latinos in downtown Las Vegas have told him the name “pinches” is Spanish for a profanity that few children would ever utter in front of their parents.

That worried Coffin, in part, because the heart of the container park will house a large children’s play area. He said weeks ago that those from the Latino community downtown told him about the name and their concern about it.

So last week, Coffin said, he forwarded a suggestion to Pinches Tacos owners. Change the name to Pinch’s Tacos.

Javier Anaya, whose family has four restaurants in California and one in Alabama, said that wasn’t acceptable. The Anayas say the name is derived from a story his grandmother told him and his brothers when they were children. During the Mexican Revolution, their uncle cooked for Pancho Villa. His name was “Pinche.” He also referred to Spanishdict.com, which defines "pinches" as “damn, measly, lousy.” Other online dictionaries say it stems from the Spanish verb pinchar and means “persistent.”

“It’s going against our actual brand and we truly stand behind it,” Anaya said Tuesday. “It’s not what other people say it is, as far as the meaning.”

The name is trademarked, he added. “It’s not like we want to be divisive, but they are not going by the truth.”

Anaya said he would stand by the name of his restaurant, which he believes would withstand any legal challenge. “But they will not go to court,” he said of the city, “because they will lose. This has to do with our culture and our free speech right to use that name. They have nothing to stand on.”

He went on to say that in every neighborhood where Pinches Tacos has opened, “they love us.”

“From Hancock Park to Culver City (both in California), which is very conservative, and in Santa Monica where kids play in a food court, they didn’t give us flak. Now we’re in Sin City and they’re giving us flak.”

Coffin said the name might not have raised any flags in those cities because they are wealthier areas whose residents “are probably not aware of what that name means.”

“He can have his free speech, but he won’t get my business,” the councilman added. “That’s what happens when people get wealthy and they forget where they come from. … It’s unfortunate when people get successful that they forget that the shoulders they’re standing on are the ones that made them what they are.”

On the contrary, Anaya said, adding that his father was an immigrant who came to America not knowing how to read or write.

“He gave us the opportunity to build something,” he added. “We would never disgrace him in any way by doing something that is going to ruin his name.”

Anaya said he hoped to open the restaurant in November.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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