Event company

Custom catering carts stolen from The Tamale Company in Oak Cliff

“If you took it, just leave our carts with us,” Fernandez said. “Leave it on the street and call us or text us or whatever.”

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — Like so many small businesses crippled by COVID-19, The Tamale Company has been forced to pivot during the pandemic if it wants to continue making money.

The business, which was launched in 2008, began selling small batches of tamales in local markets and hosting small events. After a few years, the team started doing big weddings and corporate events.

When the pandemic canceled plans, their client list dwindled.

Thus, Israel Fernandez and his family adapted. They opened a small brick-and-mortar store in Duncanville offering unique artisan culinary products, pre-packaged foods and daily hot lunches.

“It’s our plan B,” said co-owner Israel Fernandez. “We started cooking small portions and adding to the takeout section.”

As the store continues to grow, there are also catering opportunities as people begin to feel more comfortable hosting large events. By Sunday night, Fernandez had completed a major restoration job that ended late. Instead of taking his van to his warehouse in Duncanville, he parked it outside his home in Oak Cliff because it was late and he was tired.

“The next morning, Memorial Day, I went to look at the car…I looked outside and it was gone,” Fernandez said. “We were freaking out, calling the cops…calling insurance and stuff. It was really, really bad.

Fernandez said someone stole his catering van, the trailer attached to it, and the custom carts inside the trailer.

“All the equipment is tailor-made for us, so that’s what hurts the most,” Fernandez said.

One of the carts was used to serve horchata drinks, and the other is a custom bike cart the company used to serve tamales at catering events.

“It’s like someone comes to your house and takes something away from you,” Fernandez said. “It’s like that because we put a lot of heart into the equipment we had.”

He said they had enough vans and equipment to continue operating, but the stolen carts could not be replaced.

Many people took to social media to support The Tamale Company, and Fernandez said he and his family lean into gratitude for their community.

“It’s been amazing, honestly,” Fernandez said. “We didn’t expect so many people to reach out to us. We’re just so grateful, honestly, from the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate that.”

He said his message for whoever stole his carts is simple: “If you took him, just leave us our carts,” Fernandez said. “Leave it on the street and call us or text us or whatever.”