CARLSBAD — A longstanding pizza parlor’s future is in jeopardy.
Pizza Shuttle, at 959 Tamarack Ave., will close its doors Dec. 20 after receiving notice their lease would not be renewed by Hinds Investments of Beverly Hills.
In its place, a Subway franchise will take over the location of Pizza Shuttle, which has been in business for 24 years.
The news, which co-owners Susan and Britt Eubanks and business partner Frank Scarborough received just days before Thanksgiving, left the staff of the parlor stunned.
At a recent city council meeting, Susan broke down as she spoke.
“It was all still very fresh when I spoke at the City Council meeting,” she said. “We have to have this whole thing cleared out. That’s over the holidays.”
The Eubanks’ and Scarborough, though, know they have no legal recourse, but they are fighting to remain in business. Susan has spent most of the past two weeks taking to social media and starting petition drives to keep Pizza Shuttle’s doors open.
Customers can sign a paper petition at the store’s location, an online option is also available at change.org and aroundthetown.com and they have instituted a phone call campaign as well.
“It can send a message to our investment company,” she said of the petitions. “We are trying to send a message to the franchise owner of Subway that Carlsbad does not need another Subway and steal our location. It’s changing Carlsbad for the worst.”
“It breaks my heart,” Britt told a local TV station. “We have been going through the grieving process as if we lost a child.”
The lease, which expired in 2014, was on a month-to-month basis after the restaurant declined a five-year lease extension, according to the report. Although the landlord has the right to move on, Susan said Pizza Shuttle has been a worthwhile tenant paying rent and taxes on time.
In short, Eubanks said the action amounts to corporate greed and running out small business.
The Eubanks entered the pizza business more than 20 years ago with a Pizza Shuttle in Stillwater, Okla. Scarborough, Eubanks said, also opened a Pizza Shuttle in Norman, Okla.
Years later, the Eubanks opened a store in New Mexico before moving to Carlsbad and joining forces with Scarborough for the past 15 years.
Now, they must be out by Dec. 20 plus “gut” the inside as required by Hinds Investments. In addition, the fate of many of the 20 employees is up in the air, although Eubanks said Pizza Port will take on several people during the transition.
“They said they will hire a couple of our people,” she added. “They are awesome and we are grateful to them.”
Although the city cannot settle landlord-tenant disputes, she said preliminary talks with Carlsbad’s economic development department have begun. Eubanks said she hopes the economic development team can find a new location or by reaching out to anyone with space.
Should those new plans come to fruition, she still estimates between three to six months of not being in operation.
“It’s easier said than done,” Eubanks added. “The city has been awesome, but we know legally there is nothing they can do. We are really scared.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.