Deisy Ramos cooks in the back and her husband, Rigoberto Bastida, takes orders at their restaurant, Taco-Book, in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Deisy Ramos cooks in the back and her husband, Rigoberto Bastida, takes orders at their restaurant, Taco-Book, in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Facebook tells Everett mom-and-pop taco shop to rebrand

The power of the hyphen: The tiny taqueria changed its logo and colors and is now Taco-Book.

EVERETT — A lot of people liked Tacobook. But Facebook didn’t.

Rigoberto Bastida and his wife, Deisy Ramos, poured everything they had into opening the small taco shop in July 2016.

They named it Tacobook Taqueria and created a logo with a thumbs-up in the familiar Facebook style. The bustling business at 1130 Broadway near Everett Community College went from five tables to 10, serving authentic and affordable fare.

In April, the owners got a letter in the mail from a Beverly Hills law firm citing “unauthorized use of Facebook intellectual property.”

What’s up with that?

The taco shop’s name, blue color, lowercase font and logo was too similar to the “world famous social network service,” the letter said. “Facebook must take steps to protect consumers from confusion and prevent dilution of the Facebook Marks and brand.”

Bastida was confused.

“I thought it was a scam,” he said.

After all, it’s just a mom-and-pop in a small strip plaza shared with a minimart and a coin laundry.

Deisy Ramos delivers food to customers at Taco-Book in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Deisy Ramos delivers food to customers at Taco-Book in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Bastida, 40, works the counter. Ramos, 31, cooks up family recipes that her mom and grandma served in taco trucks. Their children, Daisy, 10, and Kevin, 12, do their homework after school at a front table and help stock the drink cooler and tidy up.

Bastida asked a customer in the legal biz to check out the letter.

Turns out it was legit.

Bastida called the California law firm. “I said, ‘I didn’t do this with a bad intention,’ ” he said. “I never thought you’d be offended by it.”

He said he never tried to hide from the social media giant. He’s had a Tacobook page on Facebook since he opened in 2016.

”I got a lot of reviews and comments. A lot of people take pictures. They take their selfies with the logos,” he said.

Rigoberto Bastida waits on a customer at Taco-Book in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Rigoberto Bastida waits on a customer at Taco-Book in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Bastida told the lawyer he didn’t want to cause any trouble, he just wanted to stay in business.

He worried about losing the restaurant that he’d thought was beyond their dreams to begin with.

Bastida previously was a server at IHOP, Applebee’s and Denny’s. He aspired to be his own boss.

In 2016, when a restaurant space became available near his home, he went through Ventures, a nonprofit that empowers people with limited resources to improve their lives through small business ownership. He opened Tacobook Taqueria with a business plan and a personal commitment to work seven days a week.

A week before the law firm’s letter arrived, he had for the first time ordered shirts, hats and new menus with the original Tacobook logo in lowercase letters and blue-and-red color scheme.

After talking to the lawyer, Bastida tossed the new shipment of Tacobook menus and shirts.

A law firm representing Facebook made Taco-Book change its original red and blue logo, lowercase font, small t and thumbs up, saying it was copying the social media giant. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

A law firm representing Facebook made Taco-Book change its original red and blue logo, lowercase font, small t and thumbs up, saying it was copying the social media giant. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“I didn’t want to take the chance they’d get mad at me,” he said.

He took down the sign in front. He repainted the inside and menu board. No more blue.

“I spent good money doing the remodel. I tried to do it as fast as I could, and my budget let me,” he said.

Customers offered names: “Taco-holic.” “TacoPolice.”

Most were already taken or too risky. “I didn’t want a second letter,” he said.

Best Tacos Ever-ett was a contender.

“My dad has the best sense of humor,” said his son, Kevin, a seventh-grader at North Middle School.

At Taco-Book, $4 buys a plate with a pork tostada and chicken taco, two of many menu options. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

At Taco-Book, $4 buys a plate with a pork tostada and chicken taco, two of many menu options. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Bastida said he wanted a snappy name, like Tacobook, that was easy to say for people in other languages. “A simple name that everybody can read and remember,” he said.

In the end, the firm allowed him to keep the name if he added a hyphen, which saved him from having to redo costly business paperwork.

An Everett salon, Absolut Hair, went through a similar ordeal in 2013. An international law firm representing Swedish vodka Absolut Co. told the salon to change its name because of trademark infringement. The Beverly Boulevard salon rebranded as Absolute Hair.

Bastida had a new sign made for Taco-Book, using a design that regular customer Elohim Johnston made as a school project while a student at EvCC. It’s black with a red taco. The words are in uppercase letters: TACO-BOOK.

“I’m glad they let me keep the name,” Bastida said. “A lot of people said, ‘I don’t care what your name is. As long as you’re doing your food, I’ll still be here.’ ”

Popular items are the torta cubana sandwich and street tacos. Meats include chicken, tongue and tripe.

Archie Catindig started lunching there on barbacoa tacos and carne asada when he was attending EvCC.

Now he makes the drive every weekend from Lake Stevens.

“Oh, man, just the tenderness of the meat,” Catindig said. “Especially the prices. You can’t beat the price and you can’t beat the tacos.”

He gave the new black and red sign the nod. “It looks classy,” Catindig said.

Facebook gave it the thumbs-up.

“Facebook appreciates your cooperation in rebranding your restaurant,” read the final letter dated July 10. “This letter is without prejudice to Facebook’s rights, all of which are expressly reserved.”

Herald reporter Janice Podsada contributed to this story.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Deisy Ramos cooks in the back and her husband, Rigoberto Bastidak, takes orders at their restaurant, Taco-Book, in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Deisy Ramos cooks in the back and her husband, Rigoberto Bastidak, takes orders at their restaurant, Taco-Book, in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

More in News & Comment

South King Fire helps local animal rescue with puppy transport

Seattle-based nonprofit Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary helps rescue and re-home animals from high risk situations and fosters loving relationships along the way.

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

Former Todd Beamer High School nurse charged with child rape, sexual misconduct of 3 students

51-year-old Mark David Glenn, of Auburn, posted bail and was released from jail.

Honks, waves, flags and flowers for Everett’s tattooed patriot

Fans have been honoring Samiu Bloomfield, who died Sunday, at his favorite corner on Broadway.

Twin sisters do makeover magic to local homes in HGTV series

New “Unsellable Houses” focuses on transforming modest Snohomish County homes into hot properties.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Most Read