Thursday, April 18, 2024

My lazy conjecture about Felipe’s Taqueria, the newest tenant in Harvard Square’s Garage mall, was that it was an Anna’s Taqueria in disguise — to keep its higher prices from smearing the Anna’s name.

I hypothesized this without asking the people behind the counter or even consulting the menu. (The line was too long to even consider eating there.) I just recognized the employees from the Porter and Davis square Anna’s and guessed that rents are higher in Harvard Square, ergo higher prices, ergo different name.

I’m wrong, gauging from this Chowhound posting, and this looks to be a new entry in the book of angry cooking families, which includes the Tomboy’s variants in southern California and the Olé folks here in the Cambridge area.

Visit Los Angeles and its suburbs and you’ll find chili burger joints called Greek Tommy’s, Tomboy’s, Big Tomy’s and so on, apparently the results of an endlessly dividing family of cooking entrepreneurs. They stick together for as long as they can stand it, learning the family recipes and the ins and outs of running a burger joint. Eventually they can stand it no longer, and one splits to open their own stand — one with a name just different enough to be on the right side of trademark law.

The local Mexican food epic started in Somerville with a place called Andalé, but a feud caused some of the staff to flee to Arlington for a clone called Olé. Success allowed them to go upscale with an Olé in Cambridge’s Inman Square, but the relatives running the two soon found each cared for one Olé and not the other. Now Arlington’s Olé has a cart in the financial district called … see if you can guess … Andalé.

Felipe’s, the story goes, is a spinoff of Anna’s, which is itself a spinoff from Boca Grande on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. A falling out among chef types is, again, blamed.

The good news: This only happens at successful restaurants, and it means successful restaurants, with good food, proliferate. It also gets angry people away from each other and all those giant, gleaming kitchen knives.