Taco Street responds to Point Ruston, farmers market dispute

Taco Street, the Waterfront Market restaurant at the center of a Mexican food mixup with Point Ruston and the Tacoma Farmers Market, issued a response to the three-day controversy Tuesday.

The restaurant, owned and operated by Elonka and Martin Perez, issued a statement on Facebook and Instagram just after 6 pm

It directly addressed the two farmers market vendors affected by a directive, issued by the Point Ruston Owners Association, that denied them the ability to serve their “Mexican-style food” on Sundays in the Grand Plaza. A firestorm erupted Sunday morning when Tacoma Farmers Market shared the news on its social media pages, emphasizing that it “had no part in this decision and directive” but that it “must comply while trying to reach a mutual agreement with PROA.”

Taco Street’s post did not address the exclusivity contract that Point Ruston developer Loren Cohen said existed in a Facebook post on his personal page and in comments on the development’s official Facebook page.

That contract, according to Cohen, gives Taco Street “the exclusive right to provide Mexican-style cuisine as their main genre of food at Point Ruston.” Another restaurant could “have tacos, etc. complementary to their main genre,” he said.

Perez has not responded to multiple requests for further comment, including by phone, email and social media messages.

Tacoma Farmers Market executive director Britt McGrath said she could not yet comment following Taco Street’s statement Tuesday night.

“We understand that the Point Ruston Owners Association acted out of concern for the impact that competing businesses would have on our restaurant,” Taco Street’s post read. “While we appreciate this concern for our business, we have let Point Ruston Owners Association know that we welcome El Guero and Burrito Boy at the Tacoma Farmers Market.”

The message, signed by “Perez Family — Taco Street,” also mentioned various events the owners have planned at the Waterfront Market at 5101 Yacht Club Road in Ruston. They include celebrations for Dia de los Muertos and Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We are a family-owned business, a Latino community organizer, and a Mexican small business owner,” they wrote. “We have always embraced our Latino community and have [welcomed] other small businesses at Point Ruston…”

The Waterfront Market was originally part of the greater Point Ruston project, but after the Cohen-run operation failed to pay contractors, a court mandated that it — and the parking garage below — be auctioned. Serpanok Construction has owned the land on which these buildings sit and has operated the parking garage and market since last summer.

The News Tribune’s attempts to reach Cohen by phone and by message have not yet been answered.

This story was originally published July 26, 2022 8:06 PM.

Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019, following a decade in Chicago where she worked for restaurants, a liquor wholesaler and a culinary bookstore. She previously covered the food business for Industry Dive and William Reed. Find her on Instagram @kcsherred and Twitter @kriscarasher.
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