If you stopped by Dormont Dogs this week, you might have seen a familiar face behind the counter.
Captain Barnes, who co-owns the hot dog shop with his wife, Rachel Dudley, returned to the store after serving jail time for two bank robberies he committed in February.
On Monday, Barnes and Dudley sat down with Dormont-Brookline Patch to publicly thank the community for supporting both the family and the shop during a difficult time.
Ultimately, Barnes said, he made a terrible decision while dealing with a difficult personal situation.
“I lost my focus. I lost sight of the goals for what I want to do as a business man,” Barnes said. “I feel the worst for my family for having to deal with a major mistake that I made, but I let down the community, too.”
Barnes was arrested on Feb. 15 for robbing two local banks, a PNC branch on Brookline Boulevard and a Citizens Bank in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. After serving about seven months in Allegheny County Jail, he was sentenced to four years of probation and was released last week.
Dudley said that if there was any silver lining to the horrible situation, it was that the community was extremely supportive of her and the business.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came back that first day,” she said. “We received so much support, from friends and even from strangers. That’s what I was most taken back by. We’ve made some new customers and definitely some new friends here.”
Dudley received cards and words of encouragement from customers. Complete strangers would hug her and tell her she was in their prayers. Some customers even offered to help at the store for free, although she said she never had to take them up on the offer.
Barnes said he is grateful that the community supported his family when he could not.
“A lot of people had a really positive reaction to Rachel,” he said. “I’m just so thankful to all the people who helped her, and to Rachel for holding it together. I came really close to ruining my life. I almost lost everything, and I let the community down.”
Barnes said he plans to give back to the community as much as possible. He said he wants to start by sponsoring local sports teams and participating in fundraisers and other community events.
He said it's hard to be back because he knows people have questions, but he said it was worse for his wife and children, who had to deal with the situation without him.
It will take time, he said, but he’s working toward getting back to normal.
“I’ve had a second chance given to me from what could have been much worse of an outcome,” he said. “I have a chance to turn this into something positive.”
Dormont Dogs is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. More information can be found on our listings page.