The owner and operator of a popular Mexican restaurant in La Mirada is suing a man who allegedly defamed him on Yelp by falsely stating the eatery serves "horrible" food, that management is "nuts" and that the business is not affiliated with the original Los Angeles location.
Former Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Beilke filed the suit Tuesday in Norwalk Superior Court against Jairo Castillo, alleging defamation, trade disparagement and interference with prospective economic advantage and contractual relationships. Beilke seeks at least $1 million in compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages.
Castillo is a former employee of the La Mirada location who resigned in September, the suit states. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
The La Mirada El Tepeyac restaurant opened on Imperial Highway in 2019. Like the original Evergreen Avenue location that has operated in Boyle Heights since 1955, the La Mirada El Tepeyac menu features large burritos, including the Hollenbeck and the 5-pound "Manuel's Special."
The eatery has a standing challenge to customers to eat a "Manuel's Special'' in a single visit.
"Over the years, many have tried, but few have succeeded,'' according to the cafe's website.
According to the suit, Castillo in September began a "calculated scheme to destroy'' the La Mirada location with such posts as "This place sucks, do not even go there," "The food is disgusting and cold'' and "Do not waste your time or money,'' according to the suit.
Castillo also posted, "This place is horrible. Food is horrible. Management is nuts,'' the suit states.
Castillo further said, "This place is a disgrace for claiming it is part of the original and using their logo when they are not connected," according to the complaint.
The suit claims that Castillo knew the postings were untrue and he acted with "reckless disregard" as to their content.