January 28, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Taco Punk’s Kickstarter campaign has left a bad taste in the mouths of local foodies.
The local Mexican restaurant announced last week on the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter that it’s trying to raise $20,000 to expand operations (I wrote a story about it for WFPL.org that you can read here).
The criticism of owner/chef Gabe Sowder for turning to Kickstarter has been pretty thick on social media. After Sowder sent an email to supporters announcing his Kickstarter plans, food blog Eater Louisville wrote a pretty scathing assessment in the post, “Taco Punk’d: NuLu Restaurant Asks for Donations So It Can Keep Selling $10 Taco Platters.” In a point/counterpoint feature on WFPL.org, Kentucky Public Radio intern Rae Hodge (she wrote that Taco Punk review everyone was talking about a while back) said:
… when a third-rate taco baron, selling $10 papier-mâché tortillas, starts passing the collection plate while preaching the “Keep Louisville Weird” sermon and serving bad beer, you better believe I take umbrage, particularly when their initial business plan relied on windfall income from unlucky tourists.
So why are we so mad at Sowder?
Are we big believers in the ups and downs of capitalism? Should we just let the market rather than fundraising determine the fate of a private business?
Or is this a bigger issue? Are we a little more harsh toward private enterprises asking for public money in the wake of big government bailouts?
Or do we just not like the food at Taco Punk?