Joe Downtown:

Joe Downtown: ‘Persistent’ questions dog downtown taco shop with controversial name

/ Las Vegas Sun

Construction continues at the Container Park downtown Friday, July 26, 2013.

If you want a Pinches taco, you might have to call it something else. Depending on your source, “pinches” can be translated as "persistent" or as a curse word.

A fight is brewing over the name of the restaurant that's slated to become part of the downtown Container Park on East Fremont and Seventh streets when it opens in early November.

Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin defines it as the latter and wants it changed. He grew up speaking Spanish in Los Angeles.

“I hope Pinches Tacos has not bought their sign yet,” Coffin said late last week.

By Monday, Coffin said he was confident the name would not be displayed outside the restaurant. He said he talked to the people involved in the business and believes “common sense will prevail.”

“If you’re at a place where kids are welcome, it’s not a great idea” to have that word on a sign, he said.

Javier Anaya, one of the brothers who started the taco franchise in 2007, said “pinches” has no connection to the “f-word." He referenced, which defines "pinches" as “damn, measly, lousy.” Other online dictionaries say it stems from the Spanish verb pinchar and means “persistent.”

Pinches Tacos has four locations in California and one in Alabama.

Anaya said the name came 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.”

“I obviously don’t think she lied to us,” Anaya said.

The name Pinches Tacos is registered and trademarked.

“We’re family-owned, immigrants who came to this country, and we’re trying to do something positive," Anaya said. "We’re part of the community.”

Owners brought city officials a dictionary when opening locations in Culver City, Calif., and Homewood, Ala., to prove “pinches” is not profane, Anaya said.

“We’re not trying to do anything sneaky,” he said. “Hopefully we can work this out.”

At least one downtown Spanish speaker sides with him.

Mio Flores, a chef, said he hears children using "pinche." The street version of the word, he said, means “freaking” or “frigging.”

“It’s also the context of how it’s used,” Flores said.

Tags: Business, News

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.