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More Than Just Funnel Cake

Caitlin Pitalo and Cody Grayson’s family-owned food truck runs on resilience—not just fair food

By Amy Durham

What do you get when you combine a dental hygienist, an emergency room radiologist, and a food truck? Crowds, that’s what.

Boardwalk Bites food truck co-owners Caitlin Pitalo and Cody Grayson didn’t work in the food industry, but they had a dream. They started with selling kettle corn from a booth at festivals and fairs in 2016. Eventually, they bought a food truck and expanded the menu to carnival fare—think foot-long corn dogs and funnel cake. They rolled the truck out to festivals, birthdays, and block parties—until the pandemic shut down the events industry.

Caitlin Pitalo and Cody Grayson in their food truck. June 23, 2023
Caitlin Pitalo and Cody Grayson || Photo by Vincent Gonzalez

“We had to pivot and landed a permanent spot at the Allen Premium Outlet Mall,” Pitalo says. When event bookings finally picked back up, the first truck remained at the mall, and a new second truck hit the road. Pitalo and Grayson, along with their three kids, worked the trucks until they had to hire staff to keep up. “It grew much quicker than we could have imagined,” Pitalo says. 

Today, they’ve done repeat business with AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Fidelity, PepsiCo, Sherwin Williams, and Southwest Airlines. Fresh-squeezed lemonade and chicken baskets are big hits at product launches and team-building events. When catering, Pitalo says clear communication of expectations, timelines, and logistics goes a long way toward a successful event—which relies on collaboration. “Everyone wins in the end when a team approach is taken,” she says.

Unfortunately, the pandemic wasn’t their last major challenge. The food truck was open at the Allen Premium Outlet Mall when a mass shooting took place on May 6. Employees and two of Pitalo’s children were working. They ran to safety into a fortified storage room, and, while grateful that none of her team or family were hurt, she is heartbroken for so many others.

For the food truck, Pitalo says, it has “been a devastating setback.” Their ability to do business at the mall is gone for the foreseeable future. “We are still treading water, exploring options, negotiating contracts, and attempting to stay afloat with our second food truck,” she says. “Facing these obstacles definitely has fostered resiliency and adaptability.” Moving forward, the family will do what they’ve done before: pivot and change course in the face of the unexpected, until they come out on top.

boardwalkbites.com

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