Others are downplaying the controversy.

Washburne told D Magazine, a local publication, that the boycott will only hurt the hundreds of Hispanic workers he employs. But that hasn’t appeased local activists, who are planning protests outside another restaurant he owns, Taco Diner, as well as at Washburne’s home. Quintanilla is also calling for Mi Cocina workers to go on strike. “A boycott by hispanic employees might take the entire restaurant chain down,” he wrote on Facebook.

Texas, which is solidly Republican, has a special relationship with Mexico. Many of its Hispanic residents trace their roots to a time when Texas was actually part of its neighbor to the south. Mexico is also Texas’s biggest trading partner, responsible for the purchase of billions of dollars worth of Texas-made stuff every year.

Texas’s brand of Mexican food is big business, too. M Crowd, the parent company of Mi Cocina, at one time had annual revenues approaching $80 million, according to D Magazine. It was founded by Michael “Mico” Rodriguez, a charismatic waiter whose knack for swanky Tex-Mex helped him build a restaurant empire.

Rodriguez eventually lost it all to Washburne and other M Crowd backers, due to his lavish spending and drinking. Despite his exit, Mi Cocina remained a beloved spot, hailed locally and outside the state for its mambo taxi, a margarita-sangría concoction.

Some people see a silver lining in Mi Cocina’s latest troubles.

“Selfishly, I hope people do boycott MC [Mi Cocina],” read a comment to one of the many stories written on the topic. “It will just make it easier for me to get a table.”

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