Why are we so mad about the Taco Punk Kickstarter campaign?



kickstarter logo
kickstarter logo (Photo credit: AslanMedia)

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?


6 thoughts on “Why are we so mad about the Taco Punk Kickstarter campaign?

  1. Taco Punk flew under the radar like any other business until Rae Hodge earmarked the restaurant for what really seems to amount to a one-person campaign. There are plenty of other restaurants out there that charge high prices for traditionally cheap foods, and there are certainly other restaurants that use the Kickstarter model to either get off the ground or expand their operation. Also, there is definitely no shortage of other businesses in Nulu that are priced beyond the means of many of the old neighborhood’s inhabitants.

    Personally, I’d love to see a good cheap authentic taco stand open up in NuLu or Phoenix Hill, but until that happens I’ll choke down a few more of the “third rate” version.

  2. what makes me mad about taco punk, is that he already did a kickstarter campaign several months ago, he received back then $20,000 to start his food truck business.
    now that he is drowning in debt, with his brick and mortor place, he has reapplied to kick starter for another $20,000 to keep his business open. (his own words)
    i’m sorry he’s not doing well, his food is mediocre and expensive for what you get, and now wants another handout. i’m not for it.
    kickstarter is meant to start a business, not keep the business afloat.

  3. Ashlee – remember what was said at Let Then Tweet Cake – he is “doing it wrong”. Not his food or passion, but he is failing to use the tools available to make his business and sustainability practices known. I like his food and appreciate his recycling and sustainability efforts. Most alleged supporters of sustainability are in it until it hits their wallet. Just like you can put all the American flags and talk about “Buy American” you want on Facebook, but your credibility goes out the window when you won’t pay the price of American made goods. Local sourcing and recyclable paper goods cost money, the faux environmentalists won’t pay the price. Hopefully Taco Punk will survive this and give the naysayers something else to complain about.

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