Controversy in East Austin
An East Austin piñata store has been making headlines since it was suddenly bulldozed last month. Sergio and Monica Lejarazu, owners of Jumpolin, said their piñata and party goods store located at 1401 E. Cesar Chavez was demolished without their knowledge — with all of their merchandise inside.
Since the story broke, controversy has swirled around Jordan French, the property's new owner, who took responsibility for the demolition. In an interview with CultureMap, French implied that the Lejarazus owed past-due rent and were given ample notice before the store was demolished. He also set off a firestorm when he alluded to Jumpolin being a front for illegal activity and compared the store to "a house that was infested by roaches."
The Lejarazus maintain that they had no idea the building was going to be razed.
On Thursday, Status Labs, the Austin-based image management company where French served as CEO, announced his resignation from the company. Employees of the company released an open letter to the City of Austin in which they separate themselves from French and denounce his actions.
"We are not Jordan French. We are a team of 25 young, creative, hardworking Austinites who love our city just as much as you do. From the moment we found out about this unfortunate incident, we made it clear that we found these actions just as horrifying as the rest of the world," states the letter. "With the dismissal of Jordan French as Chief Executive Officer, we are happy to say that our voices were heard."
The letter continues with an apology to the city — and the Lejarazus. "While our former CEO’s inexcusable actions were performed outside of his role at Status Labs, we would still like to extend our sincere regrets and apologies to the Lejarazu family and to our fellow Austinites. We feel that the actions taken and the insensitive comments made by Jordan were way out of line with our values and beliefs."
Darius Fisher, Status Labs' New York-based president (and a co-owner of the East Austin property), is still in good standing. "We stand by our New York City-based president, Darius Fisher, who, as a passive investor in F&F Real Estate Ventures, was unaware of the extreme measures Jordan enacted in his effort to evict Jumpolin."