Shake Shack declines to drop Martin’s potato rolls over Mastriano ties

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Amid a growing body of calls, high-end national burger chain Shake Shack is refusing to back down from the Pennsylvania-based vendor that sells the potato buns used in many of their signature sandwiches.

The buns in question are made by Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe. The family that owns Martin’s are among the key supporters of Doug Mastriano, the state senator and Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee and is a leading voice in opposing the 2020 election results and many have labeled as a Christian nationalist because of his expressed views.

Several food companies that have long used Martin’s products dropped them like hot potatoes upon hearing the connection, but Shake Shack appears to be sticking with its supplier.

“Regarding the actions of individuals associated with the Martin’s company and their personal political contributions, these are the decisions of those individuals and do not express the values ​​of Shake Shack. We remain in active discussions with Martin’s to express our concerns,” Brand and Communications Director Kristyn Clark said in a company statement.

After articles appeared in national media Tuesday afternoon, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe issued a statement on the matter.

“We are aware of the recent criticism that has been leveled at Martin’s and our business partners,” said the bakery’s marketing team. Although members of the same family, the private company’s shareholders represent a wide range of views, the statement said, so the company does not endorse any particular candidate or party.

“We will continue to focus on the values ​​that have made our company successful – baking quality products, providing excellent service to our customers and supporting the communities around us,” said Martin’s.

Concerns about the political ramifications of using Martin’s products began for Philadelphia restaurants ahead of the Pa spring primary. to gush, as Billy Penn reported in May.

After Mastriano won the GOP governor’s nomination and brought increased national attention to the statewide race, Martin’s also came under more national scrutiny. The San Francisco Chronicle, citing Billy Penn’s reporting, noted that Bay Area businesses are also dropping the list because of the Martin family’s six-figure donations to the nominee.

Popular chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt tweeted about the issue, urging his followers not to support establishments that use Martin’s products. He specifically named Shake Shack and Federal Donuts.

Philadelphia-based Federal Donuts, part of the CookNSolo restaurant collective, which also owns world-famous Israeli restaurant Zahav, now appears to be joining the boycott.

When Billy Penn asked CookNSolo about the Martin’s-Mastriano connection in May, the company declined to comment. Within the last week, as the news broke, fans began commenting on FedNut’s Instagram to pressure for a postponement.

Starting May 31st with “Still using Martin’s Buns?” and a link to Billy Penn’s story added by @sculpturegrl. More Martins-focused comments surfaced in the next day’s donut post.

“Have you already brought up the topic of potato rolls? I thought a company like this would be more aware of its impact…” @thebeardedbarbarian commented on a June 2nd post.

In a comment, Federal Donuts replied: “We are aware of this. We’ve been working on that. Many Thanks.”

The company confirmed the move to Billy Penn on Monday. “I am pleased to confirm news from FedNuts that they have been working on this,” a spokesman said, declining to provide further details.

“You are shatterable”

In relative terms, Martin’s support for Mastrianos was quite significant. The PA senator’s gubernatorial campaign received a $110,000 donation from Jim Martin, whose parents founded the company. It was the largest single donation the campaign received ahead of the Pennsylvania primary. Other members of the Martin family have also made smaller donations to the Mastriano campaign.

According to public financial records, Martin’s is the sole supplier of Shake Shack potato buns. The burger chain made over $715 million in sales last year.

Shake Shack, like Martins, said the company itself does not make political donations or endorse donations from individuals.

One of the voices urging Shake Shake to sever ties with Martin is Joe Rosenthal, a Minnesota mathematician who also runs an Instagram account with over 31,000 followers that denounces restaurants for bad behavior — often unfair labor practices.

Rosenthal has promoted Martin’s on his own website for the past several years, although he said he never took any money for it.

That won’t happen again, he said. “I have lost all hope that Martin’s will acknowledge the harm in their actions.”

So Rosenthal has focused on Shake Shack. Founded by restaurateur Danny Meyer, the New York-based company went public in 2015 and now has hundreds of locations around the world. On its website, under the “Our Values” tab, Shake Shack notes that the original hot dog cart in Madison Square Park raised funds for a public art project.

“As we grew into a global company, our mission to make a difference expanded to include mentoring our team, sourcing quality ingredients from like-minded partners, designing our shacks responsibly, supporting our communities through donations, events and volunteering. and much more,” states the Shake Shack website.

On the homepage, Shake Shack prominently features its Pride Month fundraiser for The Trevor Project, which provides crisis support services to LGBTQ youth.

Mastriano reportedly vowed to ban trans women from women’s sports in his victory speech on primary day, saying “you can only use the toilet your biology and anatomy dictates” if he becomes governor. He wrote a master’s thesis in 2021 warning of a leftist “Hitler coup,” saying, “The attack began with the introduction of homosexuality into the military.”

In an Instagram post Monday, Rosenthal noted Shake Shack’s promise to donate at least $75,000 to the Trevor Project. “Martin’s has donated an order of magnitude more than that to Mastriano through its owner, and Shake Shack, through their extensive use of Martin’s buns, is enabling more and more money to be channeled into far-right Christian nationalism,” the post reads.

“It’s not a massive brand, but they potentially have a massive impact on a candidate that’s mostly stringing together contributions from smaller donors,” Rosenthal told Billy Penn. “They are shakeable, not directly, but through Shake Shack.”

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