A report published online Thursday morning, Oct. 11, by the Dallas Business Journal detailing donations by North Texas business and community leaders to Donald Trump has prompted calls for a boycott against restaurants in the Firebird Restaurant Groups.
Mike Karns is the owner and CEO of Firebird Restaurant Group, which includes more than 50 locations for El Fenix, Snuffers, Village Burger Bar, Meso Maya, Tortaco and Taqueria La Ventana — including the Taqueria La Ventana that recently opened on Cedar Springs Road, in the heart of the gayborhood. Firebird also owns Sunrise Mexican Foods.
According to the DBJ report, based on data from the Federal Election Commission detailing on all contributions to Donald J. Trump For President Inc. made between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, Karns donated $2, 700 to the campaign. In a phone call with me at Dallas Voice Friday evening about 5:30 p.m., however, Karns said that while he had once paid to hear Trump speak he does not consider that a political donation, and that he has not made any political donations to Trump.
Karns also said he doesn’t “even know if the amount they reported is accurate.”
After I had spoken with Karns, someone sent me a link to the Federal Election Commission’s website that indicates Karns donated $2,700 to Donald J. Trump Inc., based in New York, on Oct. 24, 2017, and that he made a second donation, also for $2,700 and also on Oct. 24, 2017, to Trump Victory, a political action committee based in Massachusetts.
(I readily acknowledge that I am not well versed on the technicalities of reporting political donations, so if it turns out this is, in fact, the same donation, I’m sorry. Also, full disclosure here, Taqueria La Ventana on Cedar Springs Road has advertised in Dallas Voice.)
Karns said that “some time ago” Trump was speaking at an event taking place near one of his restaurants in downtown Dallas, and that he went to hear the president speak. “I did pay a fee to go watch him speak,” Karns said, “but that was not a political donation. I have not made any political donations to Donald Trump.”
Karns described himself as a “proud Republican,” but added that while he is “financially conservative,” he is also “socially very liberal. I don’t believe in subscribing to a certain set of rules and picking out a box based on those rules, then staying strictly in that box.
Karns said that he and his wife Valerie, a designer, live in the Turtle Creek area and are “very big supporters” of Oak Lawn and the LGBT community, which is one of the main reasons he chose to open Taqueria La Ventana on Cedar Springs Road. He said he and his wife contribute to a number of LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations and events, including DIFFA/Dallas.
In addition, he pointed out that the Cedar Springs location of Taqueria La Ventana is a member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, and that the restaurant, as part of its grand opening, hosted a fundraising event for Lambda Legal.
— Tammye Nash