GARLAND, Texas — It's been a tough week and a half for Caitlin Pitalo, her business partner and staff with Boardwalk Bites Food Truck.
The Allen based small business hasn’t been able to open at its regular location, since the tragic mass shooting on May 6, forced the Allen Premium Outlets mall to close. A gunman shot and killed eight people that day. Several other shoppers were injured.
The food truck was a staple at the outlet mall. The mall’s temporary closure meant no customers and no business for small companies, including Boardwalk Bites. So, the food truck had to shut down.
"It definitely impacted us by having to shut down. We’re very thankful to have been able to move,” said Pitalo.
The team operating the small business said it had to reopen and fast.
"Being shut down for an extended period of time is really not an option for us, or our employees,” said Pitalo.
Boardwalk Bites went to social media. Pitalo said she began asking community members for temporary relocation ideas. It was their landlord who stepped up in a big way.
"I sent them an email and just said, we can’t do this. We’re a small business, family-owned, we have no corporate backing,” Pitalo said. “What can you do to help us?"
Within minutes, the food truck owners said their landlord offered a temporary space at Firewheel Town Center in Garland. It’s about 16 miles from the Allen outlet mall. However, the community is showing up to support the business.
"Just like us, we want to come out to support them, and give them our money to help them survive,” said Valerie Kernan, a small business owner in Richardson.
The new food truck location at Firewheel Town Center is temporary, for now.
“It’s very much a joy in my heart to be back in here. To see the kids smiling faces,” said Pitalo.
The Boardwalk Bites team believes it’s only a matter of time before their small business is back home and open in Allen, Texas.