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    According to a post made on their Facebook this morning, the Nulu eatery Taco Punk is closing their doors.

    "Unfortunately, the time has come for Taco Punk to unplug the old tortilla press.  

    For almost three years we have been making some of the best tacos in town. Our NuLu location has been a bit of a struggle from the beginning.  We chose to make the best of it in a beautiful location; expanding our menu, hosting events, offering catering and vending at events all the while offering fantastic food focused on quality, ethical responsibility and great service. Over this time we have shown thousands of people that locally sourced food can be affordable, responsible and quickly delicious.

    However, our location is heavily dependent on the success of our lunch business and traffic issues with the Downtown Bridge Project have decisively cut off easy access for downtown workers to NuLu during the crucial lunch hours. After conferring with officials at Walsh construction, the Economic Development Council, Downtown Management and the team behind AC Hotel Nulu, it is clear that the situation in NuLu is only going to get worse before it gets better and any relief will come at mid 2016 –at best.

    While we still retain the spirit and will to continue on, we no longer have the financial ability to do so. Rather than sacrifice quality, service and our sustainability program, we have chosen to go out on top with our integrity intact. Join us for the next two weeks for a celebration of Taco Punk. We will be open from now until our last service on the October 3 Trolley Hop, and vending during NuLufest September 27 .

    A big thank you goes out to all of our great customers, vendors and supporters. We will miss making you happy and full. Hope to see you soon for one last trip to Taco Punk!

    Gabe and the Taco Punk Crew"

    Taco Punk's mission to provide fresh, farm-to-table tacos in NuLu has been one fraught with difficulty and abounding in, well, sarcasm. In perhaps the most eviscerating review ever published about a restaurant in Louisville (our critics are usually pretty tame) Rae Hodge said of Taco Punk in the Louisville Cardinal: 

    “I want to be able to say that Taco Punk is a culinary jewel that just happens to find itself in a morally dubious situation. I want to rave about East Market’s triumphant acquisition of chef Gabe Sowder of former 610 Magnolia fame. I want to talk about how Sowder’s cuisine is inspired by simple Mexico City street fare, and note the irony in the fact that he started this place with a food truck that served gourmet tacos. I want to smile right back in the face of that giant red sugar skull that grins at me from its poster without thinking about cultural appropriation, or how racist it is to turn a Dia De Los Muertos symbol into a novelty to sell tacos. Most importantly, if I’m going to willingly participate in gentrification, I want it to taste delicious. Make me forget that I’m curb-stomping my own consumer values because I can’t turn down that soft taco mouth-gasm. That’s what I want. Whatever. People in hell want ice water.”

    In a letter to the Editor, Gabe Sowder responded to this slaughter: 

    "Taken as a whole, Hodge’s piece asserts I am a racist, capitalist taco baron profiteering off of others’ misfortune. Not only is this baseless, but dangerously veers towards libel. While the larger topic of Louisville’s urban development is a complex issue worthy of discussion, Hodge’s decision to throw me into the center of the ring without researching my business model illustrates her lack of judgment and indulging her own agenda at my expense violates basic journalistic standards."

    In 2013, Sowder launched a Kickstarter campaign to carry out plans for:

    "transforming our 1,200 square foot gravel lot into an alfresco dining area, sculpture garden and performance space. We will partner with Metro Sewer Department to divert our rainwater runoff into this space to act as a rain garden. This partnership will result in a grant based on the square footage of Taco Punk. In addition to outdoor dining, this space will be used for concerts, performances, private events, beer tastings, food demos and competitions. The revenue from added dining and events will allow us to capitalize on the opportunities during the warm months to offset slow periods."

    This campaign was met with controversy, which is nicely summed up in this blog post from a local writer, and was ultimately unsuccessful. Also in 2013, Taco Punk was sued to the tune of $33,000 by the Metropolitan Business Development Corporation for allegedly failing to make payments on a loan. 

    Taco Punk's approval rating on Urbanspoon sits at 69%, and though taking stock in crowd-sourced ratings can be risky  business, it is worth noting that other restaurants within walking distance like The Mayan Cafe or Toast on Market enjoy significantly higher ratings (92%, to  be precise).

    Images courtesy of Taco Punk's Facebook Page, Kickstarter Campaign and Urbanspoon.

    Elizabeth Myers's picture

    About Elizabeth Myers

    Big fan of bacon and bourbon, deep fried anything, sweet tea and sweet nothings.

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