Politics and food trucks don’t mix.
That’s a lesson Lloyd Taco, a Buffalo, New York-based taco truck operator, discovered the hard way.
First, it apologized for serving employees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after a few people complained on Twitter.
Y’all hand delivery tacos to ICE agents now? I’d rather eat some sad Chipotle, byyyyyye
— Hannah B. (@Hannah_RBe) October 24, 2019
It thought that would be the end of its problems. After all, that made the left angry — and who ends up eating at taco trucks, am I right?
Well, it turns out that conservatives eat at taco trucks, too.
So, after Lloyd Taco ended up losing business from pretty much everybody, it apologized for its apology.
According to the Buffalo News, the whole mess began Oct. 23 when Lloyd Taco catered to the early lunchtime crowd at the Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, where immigrants detained by ICE are held.
When the taco truck operators encountered some blowback on social media, they apologized on Twitter a day later.
They explained that they had gone to the facility via a request which they “processed … using our standard intake procedure. Typically, that process helps us make business decisions we are proud of. Unfortunately, in this case, it did the opposite.”
Lloyd Taco added that it had made a “lapse in judgment” and emphasized its “commitment to being a more thoughtful company.”
“We’re sorry, Buffalo. You deserve better,” the message concluded.
We’re sorry. pic.twitter.com/chKkSGwwBr
— lloyd (@whereslloyd) October 24, 2019
The problem is that Buffalo isn’t comprised entirely of liberals. Western New York tends to be a bit more conservative than downstate, which meant the boomerang effect over the implied insult to ICE and its employees was swift for Lloyd Taco and co-founders Pete Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo.
According to the Buffalo News, the tweet “inspired a backlash from many, including Republican office-holders, who felt the Lloyd apology was a slap against police and law enforcement. In fact, Cimino said Monday, the company has had customers cancel three truck visits in the five ‘exceptionally challenging’ days since the controversy flared up.”
I’m sorry too that I can no longer support a business that disrespects federal employees doing their job.
It’s been fun, but ✌
I respect and support law enforcement and won’t be associated with any business who disrespects them.
— Rob (@Bobbyg387) October 24, 2019
“In what world does a company feel the need to apologize for serving food to federal law enforcement officers who work in dangerous conditions?” Republican state Sen. Robert G. Ortt, who is running for Congress in the district that includes Batavia, said, according to the News.
“Pathetic pandering,” he said. “The men and women who work to enforce our immigration laws and protect us deserve better.”
Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw said on Facebook that the “crazy brigade now has a litmus test for what foods we can eat.”
And Thomas Feeley, Buffalo’s ICE field office director, also publicly complained about Lloyd Taco’s stand.
“We are doing our jobs, enforcing the laws passed by Congress. Just like we have for many presidents,” Feeley said in a statement. “We will not apologize for doing this, not even to a food truck that now chooses to discriminate against us.”
So, enter the re-apology on Monday.
“Chris and I want to fully and sincerely apologize for our past statement after our truck’s visit to the federal detention facility in Batavia last week,” Cimino said during a news conference at Lloyd Taco’s headquarters. “Our statement was hastily made, and we reacted too quickly to criticism we received for that visit.”
“We make tacos, not war,” he said. “We serve all communities. We go to all neighborhoods. We are not political. Why would we be? How can any business choose sides in our politically divided country and ever succeed?”
When a taco truck company is holding a news conference, that’s so seldom a good sign.
However, when you rack up 5,000 comments on taco truck placement in just five days — and over 90 percent of them were negative — you have to do something, and trying to return to status quo ante probably isn’t the worst idea in the world.
60+ degrees in October might as well mean summertime in Buffalo
— lloyd (@whereslloyd) October 30, 2019
Then again, a better idea would have been for Lloyd Taco to make that statement in the first place instead of casting its lot with those demonizing law enforcement for enforcing the law.
Instead of getting spooked by the pitchforks and apologizing reflexively, Cimino could have said the very rational things that were coming out of his mouth on Monday. (I mean, minus that groan-worthy “We make tacos, not war” line.)
That he said those words because another set of pitchforks were outside his proverbial door attenuated the sympathy it generated somewhat, but at least there seems to have been some wisdom gained.
After being asked whether this was a learning experience for the co-founders, Cimino replied, “I would say that’s putting it lightly, for sure.”
Well, one hopes.
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