Gregory Gregory — the last man standing in the way of Taco Bell’s quest to liberate the phrase “Taco Tuesday” from all U.S. trademarks — has thrown in the towel.
Until recently, Gregory’s Restaurant & Bar in Somers Point, N.J., was the last business in the country still holding a trademark for the popular phrase. Taco John’s, which owned the trademark in the remaining 49 states, relinquished its claim earlier this year.
Now Gregory and his longtime rival, fast food giant Taco Bell, have jointly announced that Taco Tuesday is free to use for restaurants nationwide.
“Taco Tuesday has always been a source of pride for my family and our restaurant, but we recognize Taco Tuesday is widely celebrated and embraced beyond our four walls,” Gregory said in a Taco Bell press release.
It’s a dramatic about-face for Gregory, who told As It Happens in August that he would fight to hang onto the trademark for as long as possible, so he could one day hand it over to his grandson.
“I have to protect this,” he said at the time. “It’s good and it’s a legacy.”
Gregory didn’t respond to a request for an interview about his change of heart.
As It Happens5:29N.J. man who doesn’t like tacos takes on Taco Bell in battle for ‘Taco Tuesday’
Gregory — who famously doesn’t even like tacos — claims to have coined the term Taco Tuesday in the ’70s. His business has held the New Jersey trademark since 1982.
As the phrase grew in popularity, he continued to vigorously defend his trademark, frequently writing cease-and-desist letters to other New Jersey restaurants who dared use it.
Taco Bell ‘unrelenting’ in quest to ‘liberate’ the phrase
Enter Taco Bell.
In May, the fast food chain, a subsidiary of the Yum Brands corporation, filed a petition to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to cancel the Taco Tuesday trademark across the country.
It simultaneously launched a massive, celebrity-packed PR campaign to “liberate the phrase for restaurants nationwide.”
After Taco John’s relented in July, Gregory was the last man standing.
He previously told CBC that Taco Bell was “unrelenting” in its quest to make him change his mind. It’s not clear what the food chain offered that finally convinced him to relinquish his long-standing trademark.
“When we set out to free Taco Tuesday, we did it for all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos,” Taco Bell chief spokesperson Sean Tresvant said in a press release.
“Taco Bell wants everyone to have the opportunity to celebrate Taco Tuesday, including Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar. Thanks to Gregory’s choice to relinquish the trademark registration, New Jersey businesses and fans can fully enjoy Taco Tuesday, effective immediately.”
In Canada, the Taco Tuesday trademark belongs to the chain TacoTime.