CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When wintry weather forced the closure of the icy JFK Causeway, it left North Padre Island residents and businesses without a quick means of obtaining meaningful amounts of food.
Disruptions to power and water services this week only complicated the matter.
But two restaurants were able to continue operating, providing more than just meals to a weather-weary community.
"We want to make sure people have food and water and a way to get out of the house at least," Padre Poke owner Jessica Chappell said.
“I was fortunate enough to have supplies to feed a lot of people," Pelican Lounge owner Irfan Kardas said.
With icy roads preventing deliveries, supplies became a concern at both restaurants, and both owners were too busy serving customers to make supply runs of their own.
But as soon as the causeway could open on Wednesday, a fellow restaurant owner made a run for them.
“They’d run out of food," Mikel Mays owner May Mendoza said. "They needed food. They were the only things open.”
Mikel Mays has been closed since Hurricane Hanna badly damaged Bob Hall Pier, where the restaurant is located, over the summer.
With a little time on her hands because she doesn't have a restaurant to run, Mendoza wanted to assist her peers.
"All the area restaurants from Port Aransas into town came through to me when I needed them and helped me out," she said. "I’m just paying it forward. That’s what we do.”
Chappell and Kardas thanked Mendoza on Thursday, but they're not surprised that a North Padre Islander would support her neighbor.
"As a community and as a whole we come together and help each other out wherever we can," Chappell said.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else," Kardas said. "If something goes wrong, somebody is going to step up to the plate and help you and help others. And I’m very blessed to live here.”