Pineappétit, a well-loved food truck here in Tallahassee known for its signature pineapple bowls and frequent visits to campus events, is set to officially open its brand new brick-and-mortar site on Thursday, April 22. The grand opening is open to anyone in Tallahassee interested in trying Pineappétit’s island-inspired dishes.

Across Florida, this pandemic has forced many restaurants over the last year — many of which were already operating on tight margins — to face the possibility of closing. CBS recently put out an article highlighting new data from H&R Block that shows Black-owned businesses are taking the biggest hit. An H&R Block survey found that 53% of Black business owners saw their revenue drop by half, compared to 37% of White owners, since the pandemic started. Statistics from The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Black ownership dropped 41% last year, and they claim it is the most significant decline among all racial groups during the pandemic months.

Notwithstanding the pandemic struggles, and the statics working against him for a black-owned business, Chef Sam Burgess, the owner of Pineappétit, gives all the credit for his newfound success to his support system of Tallahassee small business owners brought together by the pandemic.

“The owners of Smoothie Time and Big Easy Snowballs were two individuals that really pushed me to do what I’m doing now,” says Chef Sam. “We all started around the same time with our food trucks. To see them have the success they’ve had with opening their brick-and-mortar sites during this time really motivated me and made me feel like the time was right despite the current pandemic.”

Although the pandemic resulted in an opportunity for Chef Sam to cater for the Google headquarters in California to be canceled, it brought about something much more significant than he ever expected; a sense of community that supports and uplifts one another. Despite the many hardships the pandemic has caused, Chef Sam is grateful for the group of like-minded individuals who encouraged him to take a leap of faith and pursue his desire to expand Pineappétit. 

A portion of the proceeds generated on the grand opening will be donated to the Golden Chance foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to providing resources and scholarships to individuals affected by the premature death of a biological parent(s). A cause near and dear to Chef Sam’s heart as the owner of the non-profit, Michael Jenkins, is his close friend who suffered the loss of both his parents at a young age.