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Outrageous Outrage 2: Lloyd’s Taco Truck

Filed under: Food
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A couple of weeks ago, Lloyd’s Taco Truck began a Kickstarter program in order to raise enough money to make a down payment on a second truck. They have just under 20 days to go, and are about 1/2 the way there. 

But people have denigrated Lloyd for seeking a “handout”, and expressing disapproval over a for-profit company “begging” for money from people without, e.g., offering a share in the business. 

So, here’s a fact-check. 

1. If you don’t want to participate in the Kickstarter, you don’t have to. No one’s making you. 

2. Kickstarter was created precisely so that for-profit entities can raise funding that they can’t come up with themselves, and can’t get a traditional loan for, so that the path from idea to reality is made easier. 

3. If you click on the prominent link at the top of the Kickstarter page, you discover this self-explanatory text: 

Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree… Welcome to Kickstarter!

4. So, it’s specifically for creative projects, including food projects, is completely voluntary, and frankly will enable a very good, very popular local food business to expand by one truck and better serve customers. 

5. If you think Lloyd’s has made a lot of money in its first year, what with legal wrangling over city permitting, limited locations to set up, crappy weather during the winter of ’10 – ’11, and occasional truck problems, you’re wrong. It’s a tough slog, and no one’s getting rich. They need twelve grand to buy a new truck and expand – if you like tacos, you may choose to give them money and get a thank you gift in exchange – it’s win-win, as Lloyd’s gets to go more places, and you get to eat more Lloyd’s.  

6. Thousands of for-profit projects exist on Kickstarter, all of which can be subjected to the same criticism as Lloyds, yet there they are.  I mean, do you need a device that will remotely print stuff people tag on Instagram? Probably not,  but if you’d like one, or like to see one on the market, here you go. $100,000 worth of people have donated. 

7. Everyone just relax. It’s a taco truck. I’m a fan, and I’ve participated in the Kickstarter because I’d like there to be another one to patronize. Because the Lloyd’s guys are friends of mine, their food is good, and they’re pioneers of sorts. Other people have pledged money for their own reasons. If you don’t think it’s fair or right, then don’t participate. What I don’t understand is the outrage and, frankly, hatred I’ve seen in many online comments about this program. Even here at Artvoice, the weekly arrow up/arrow down roundup gave Lloyd’s an arrow down because they have the nerve to use an online funding service in exactly the way it’s intended to be used in order to ask fans for money they can’t raise any other way, at least not now. 

8. Lloyd’s isn’t the first local for-profit food-based business to use Kickstarter to help fund its growth and expansion, yet it’s the first to get a barrage of criticism. 


  • Maybe if they get Jason Russell to produce a 30 minute YouTube video, they can help raise awareness! As for me, I’d like to see taco trucks patrolling the streets like Mr. Softee does, but with a better jingle playing…

    • There are four traditional ways to fund a business:

      1. Friends, family, and fools
      2. Bank loans
      3. Venture Capital
      4. ECIDA or SBA loans

      They’ve already tapped their own accounts, family and friends. Bank loans require collateral and security and they might not have enough to secure the loan. Their first truck is a POS and doesn’t carry a lot of value (my assumption), they’re young and probably carrying student loan and other debt, and they probably don’t have homes to offer as collateral. Venture capital? For a taco truck? Not gonna happen, unless they want to take on traditionally “expensive” WNY VC money (small capital injections/huge equity stakes) and have plans to take over the mobile taco world. ECIDA and SBA loans are an option, but they need to qualify and there are restrictions on how some of that money is spent.

      So, Kickstarter is a cool option for businesses who are in this particular spot or startups looking to take an idea off the drawing board into a development phase, but don’t yet have capital assets or a revenue projection. Rewards are offered and people like supporting cool things. People need to fucking relax in this town.

      This isn’t begging or handouts, it’s more along the lines of a barter, which Artvoice, Buffalo Rising and hundreds of other businesses in this town engage in extensively. We’re like fucking modern gypsies in this town with the amount of barter that happens. In fact, the back cover of this week’s AV features a barter business, does that get a thumbs down as well?

  • Tom

    Thanks for posting this. The ‘outrage’ has been pretty absurd.

    I putzed around the other day, and figured that Lloyd is going to have to give away about $5000 in goods (retail) as rewards for this project to get $12,500 in cash. That sure as hell doesn’t seem like a ‘handout’ to me.

    Regardless, this should have ended on one point: Don’t like it? Don’t back the project. Period. End of story.

    I’m sure that the same people pissing and moaning about this do the same when brick and mortar businesses seek alternative financing, right?

  • Like you pointed out…..Lloyds isn’t asking for something for nothing. They are offering gifts in return for donations. I’ll be making my donation and I, other than a bowl of soup at the Buffalo Soup Fest, I have never even eaten their chow.

    People are so silly sometimes.

  • Outrageous? Yawn.

    Here’s a timeworn idea: perhaps Lloyd’s could go the traditional WNY corporate welfare route and just shovel in taxpayer money to build their private enterprise.

  • Jesse

    Where is the ‘outrage’? I’d love to read what some naysayers are saying, because right now I find it hard to imagine.

  • David Staba

    Simple solution to bring the BR commentariat on board — Call the new mobile unit Frank Lloyd Taco Truck, paint a mural of the Darwin Martin House on the side, and give away a Lego Fallingwater set with every donation of $200 or more. Some may even put off buying that new North Face jacket.

  • This Lloyd’s food truck is disgusting. What kind of fucking shit is these? Begging for money from The People is aginst everything The People stand for. Who are these fucking peple? What are they thanking?

    PS- Taxpayers, I ned your help to make another million dollars buying up baldings for a dollar, letting them sit and rot, then developing them into million dollar condoms that don’t sell. Send your disgusting fucking tax checks diractly to me at:

    Ellicott Development
    1 Irony Boulevard
    Failed City Whose Bones I Feed Upon, New York

  • Buffalo Blows

    “But people have denigrated Lloyd for seeking a “handout””

    Umm,wasn’t it you guys that put that in one of your articles? Your the people right?

    • Alan Bedenko

      @Buffalo Blows: It really helps move the discussion along when you bother to read the post, which included:

      Even here at Artvoice, the weekly arrow up/arrow down roundup gave Lloyd’s an arrow down because they have the nerve to use an online funding service in exactly the way it’s intended to be used in order to ask fans for money they can’t raise any other way, at least not now.

      Hope that helps.

      Also, “you’re”, not “your”. You’re welcome.

  • I’m really enjoying the purposefully misspelled Carl Paladino comment. Reads just like one of his emails. Well done.

  • JSmith

    *shrug* People are allowed to express their opinion. I don’t see anything I would characterize as “outrage” or “hatred” in the BR comments. And actually, there was some BR criticism of the Community Beer Works Kickstarter: http://www.buffalorising.com/2011/11/community-beer-works-its-close-but-needs-your-help.html

    I would be totally willing to loan Lloyd money interest-free in the form of a deferred-use gift certificate or “advance purchase”. I don’t see why that isn’t an option, even using Kickstarter. “For every dollar you pledge on Kickstarter, you will receive that much back in burritos once the second truck has been purchased and is up and running.” I would readily pledge them at least a couple of hundred bucks for that deal, even knowing I would need to wait a year to call my zero-interest loan (and even then it would take a year or so to eat back my loan’s worth in food).

    I have backed one Kickstarter project (for a book project) because the “reward” (the PDF of the finished book) was of an appropriate value that I would pay that much for the book anyway. I view it simply as “payment in advance” before the book is written. I wouldn’t have pledged if the reward was simply “your name in the acknowledgments” and I still had to pay full price for the finished product.

    I think Kickstarter is an awesome idea for raising startup capital in order to get something created. I don’t like it so much as “Give us some money just because you like us and you’ll get a few tchotchkes in return”. PBS can just about get away with that business model because they are a non-profit.

  • Tom Beecher

    People are allowed to express their opinions. People are also allowed to express their opinions about those opinions.

    If you’re not a fan of the Kickstarter model, don’t do it. If you’d like to buy some gift certificates from Lloyd’s to pay for a year of burritos in advance, get in touch with them.

    The problem is people are expressing a critical opinion of how Lloyd’s is choosing to fund their expansion, when there’s nothing wrong with this method at all. It’s perfectly legal, and quite common.

  • Josh

    It’s a gut feeling I have that makes me not like what Lloyd’s is doing. It’s the idea of it. Kickstarter may have in it’s policy book that it’s ok to use it for businesses, but I think we usually associate kickstarter with non-profit orgs or artists. I gave money to a group who wanted to do a needle-exchange program once. This is the MEME of Kickstarter.

    If it is off-putting that Lloyd’s would use this platform it is because Lloyd’s was SUPPOSED to BE Better than that. We wanted them to be better than that. Maybe it was our fault for thinking that they were hip and progressive and not just trying to make a buck. They are wildly popular and I can’t believe they wouldn’t be able to get a loan from a bank or credit union. Are you kidding me on that one?

    We give out billions of dollars each year in New York State through IDAs and other economic development agencies to corporations who don’t need the help. In other words, economic development money this is mis-used to just pad profit lines. This reminds me of that, which makes me uneasy.

    If LLoyds wanted to create their own donation page on their website, I would probably feel much different. Kickstarter means something much different to those of us who are artists or work in the non-profit world. I thought that Lloyd’s knew that. I thought they were an ally.

  • Alan Bedenko

    Josh, Kickstarter expressly allows for food, and has no requirement that the business be a non-profit. So, aside from your personal dislike for this, there’s nothing improper or wrong about it.

    This isn’t like an IDA or government handout, because of its completely voluntary nature.

    Kickstarter may have funded a needle-exchange, but it also has a project category called “food”.

    How Lloyd is different from, e.g., someone looking to start a condiment company or open a bakery is beyond me.

    It’s all about small creative businesses trying to get funding, gap funding, or collateral in a tough market. And it’s completely voluntary.

  • Dan

    > Simple solution to bring the BR commentariat on board

    Tell them:

    * It will be parked to the curb.
    * Rusty Chain beer will be on tap.
    * It will never cross the city line into the suburbs. Especially not into Amherst.
    * It will spend 50% of its time in Black Rock.
    * It will honor the authentic, genuine and real Buffalo tradition of honoring Entertainment buy-one-get-one-free coupons.
    * Its presence will be just another sign that the city has turned the corner, and is on its way back to its former glory.
    * It’s one more thing to get us closer to being able to justify calling Buffalo “Austin North”. Only 500 more food trucks or so, and we’ll be there!

  • Josh

    Alan – You’re right that it is much different than IDA handouts. I guess that wasn’t necessarily my main point. I think that the reason that people like myself are turned off by this is because we have a different understanding of what kick-starter is.

    Most people I know only see kick-starter in terms of how socially conscious non-profit or art projects are created – which would not have another means of funding themselves but for kickstarter. This is what I meant by the ‘meme’.

    In that same vein, I would take some offense to the bakery and jam companies. Although INNA jam says this: “INNA jam makes fruit jams and spicy pepper jams from fresh, organic produce that’s sourced locally within 100 miles of our kitchen.” So at least they are trying to play to that component of the meme by supporting local, organic produce.

    You do make a solid case that kickstarter totally allows this. I looked at some of the other “food” projects on the site and not all of them have a social justice component. It’s just that in my mind kickstarter has been associated with social justice oriented projects or art projects, and I don’t think I’m alone on that. I think that because other people think of kickstarter this way – and clearly a lot of us do – it seems a bit sleasy for Lloyd’s to use the site.

    I also think that because Lloyd played to the “young/progressive” market and brand – it was poor taste for them to use kickstarter and probably a bad business decision. I think they turned off a lot of people with this decision.

    They could have funded this van in other ways. Just my take.

    • It’s just that in my mind kickstarter has been associated with social justice oriented projects or art projects

      Funny how perception works. I’ve always though of Kickstarter as a means to help small tech/web/creative/design/food companies get started. I’ve funded a couple of dozen projects, none of them with a social justice angle. Different experiences = Different perceptions

  • Tom Beecher

    @Josh :

    “If it is off-putting that Lloyd’s would use this platform it is because Lloyd’s was SUPPOSED to BE Better than that. We wanted them to be better than that. Maybe it was our fault for thinking that they were hip and progressive and not just trying to make a buck. They are wildly popular and I can’t believe they wouldn’t be able to get a loan from a bank or credit union. Are you kidding me on that one?”

    What do you mean ‘better than this’? They’re a BUSINESS. There is a lot of demand for Lloyd’s products, and they want to expand their business to meet that demand. They’re not doing it for charity work.

    On the money issue, unless you work for a bank and are willing to extend Lloyd a $12,500 line of credit on reasonable terms, you have no business criticizing them for their choice of funding.

    Again, if you don’t like what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it, then don’t give them your money. Don’t buy their products. It’s your choice.

    If you want to have a say in how Lloyd’s runs their business, contact the owners and offer to buy in for an equity stake.

    • I don’t know how many of you have recently tried to borrow money for a small business, but the market is pretty tight with increased collateral requirements, smaller amounts, and much more intensive screening criteria than there were just a few years back.

  • Josh

    Tom – Are you saying people can’t argue with businesses over the ethics decisions they make? The extension of that argument would mean that corporations can do whatever they please – unless we own them. Child labor, environmental destruction, dangerous working conditions, poisonous products… you name it. We can’t say they should operate differently unless we are the owners? Really?

  • Tom Beecher

    That’s not what I’m saying at ALL.

    If Lloyd was participating in unethical or possibly illegal practices, then I’d be all for public discussion or criticism.

    They’re not.

    They’re simply choosing to explore a new, legal, alternative source of funding for their business. As a patron of the business, does it REALLY matter to you if a business got operating capital from First Niagara, Kickstarter, or Joey Boots the shark?

    If you’re going to criticize Lloyd’s for exploring financing outside of the banking system, then you surely should criticize every other business in Buffalo that does the same thing, and I can assure you there are plenty.

  • Sean C.

    Last time I listened to Stern, Joey Boots didn’t have a pot to piss in. Let alone having $12,500 to lend Lloyd so we can get fish tacos on both ends of WNY on any given Friday. Actually, they had to bring in some of those portable geriatric toilets last time he and High Pitch Eric competed in a Crap-A-Thon.

    Get your facts straight Beecher!

  • Mike Chmiel

    I am confused – the Brick and Mortar folks told me that these food trucks had an unfair competitive advantage and that they would put everyone out of business.

    Hey, ETS, Jim’s Steakout, Just Pizza and several others – I guess running and financing a food truck operation is still pretty tough and requires some unique methods.

    Then again, maybe if Lloyd’s didn’t have to spend the last year fighting for the basic right to do business in Buffalo, they would already have the money for a second truck.

  • Tom Beecher

    Well played Sean, well played.

  • PNut

    Thanks for addressing this Alan. I guess it’s at least nice to see that the ‘brick and mortars’ have learned how to use social networking and websites, if only to troll.

  • It seems to me that the point isn’t whether or not you agree with Lloyd’s initiative; it’s well-established that one can choose to donate or not.

    The question is, why do some feel compelled to spend the time–even 10 seconds–to write a disparaging comment about it if you don’t support them.

    Why be a hater?

  • Kicked in because I liked the product, don’t like the campaign, don’t kick in….it SEEMS a simple conclusion.

  • WNYGoo

    I’m mad at myself for being shocked that people would be upset over this, after all, this is WNY. This article is the first I’ve heard of people being against this. Shame on (some of) Buffalo!

  • Ray

    “I don’t know how many of you have recently tried to borrow money for a small business, but the market is pretty tight with increased collateral requirements, smaller amounts, and much more intensive screening criteria than there were just a few years back.”

    Unless you have really kickass parsnips and wide, comfy booths. Then you can get all kinds of credit and concessions no matter how whacked your credit is.

  • mike in buffalo

    Cretinism yes,

    I love the comment on BRO where some guy offers to lend the entire 12.5k at 12 percent interest for a year. Wow, you are willing to make a loan at 12 percent. Where can I sign up for that rate on borrowing money? Rich people are so generous.

  • Jim Corbran

    I would love to have given Steve Jobs 25 bucks back in the day…

  • justin manzella

    Hi is like to say that this is a bunch of bullshit….. I’m a chef at a local bar and kitchen and I don’t care that we have food trucks rolling around selling food… I do have a problem with them asking for handouts… Yes its a handout… Ok I don’t know these guys personally but I know the guys that work for them…. They make a ton of money and have no overhead… Thats a start… They own multiple houses that they can use for collateral for a bank loan.. so Freakin so it… They go on vacation all the time and don’t even work on the dam truck…. I think this is a money grab nothing else .. what a shame if u can’t afford to buy a new truck then don’t do it… I’m not giving these guys shit…