Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reed & Co. Is Closing

The Lawrenceville vegan restaurant and juice bar is the latest in a string of shuttering announcements. 
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It’s been a rough month for Pittsburgh vegan-friendly restaurants. Hot on the heels of the news that Bitter Ends Food, Viridis and B52 are closing, Reed & Co. owner Reed Putlitz announced last night that he will shutter his Lawrenceville eatery and juice bar on April 22.

“I had to do some tough math. And this is where we are right now. It’s life, you know,” says Putlitz.

Putlitz was one of Pittsburgh’s first food and beverage businesses to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic by quickly adding a walk-up window and an online ordering. He later removed the restaurant’s dining room in favor of a bigger prep kitchen. Eventually, Putlitz was able to hire more people. “The outcome was that our business actually increased over the last few years,” he says.

But it wasn’t enough. “The business also became much more expensive to run,” he says.

With costs rising across the board, there was little room for the surprises that often can turn a low-margin eatery on its head.

“Through the winter we had a lot of problems with flooding and that cost us a lot of time and a lot of money,” he says, adding, “We’re not alone in that in Lawrenceville and Pittsburgh. The infrastructure of these buildings needs to be a part of the conversation about what’s happening now.”

Putlitz says he expected a significant portion of his balance sheet to be offset by relief from the federal Employee Retention Tax Credits that are part of the Cares Act but hadn’t received them in time to keep the business operational.

“Timing is a factor in life. Along the way, a lot of the timing worked out in our favor. This time it didn’t,” he says.

Putlitz opened Reed & Co. in 2016. Under the direction of executive chef Justin Crimone, the establishment has offered one of Pittsburgh’s foremost feel-good, eat-good contemporary vegan menus. Its breakfast wrap stood toe-to-toe with any egg-based breakfast sandwich in Pittsburgh; hot dishes such as chick’n katsu bowl and grab-and-go items such as spinach balsamic soba noodles were always a welcome treat for an uplifting lunch. Last year, Crimone forayed into experimenting with vegan pizzas and calzones, and it’s a project I hope he’ll continue elsewhere.

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Reed & Co. also offered a power-packed array of smoothies, juices and grain bowls that were among the best offered in Pittsburgh.

Restaurants all over town are grappling with the realities of what now appears to be a precarious time in the hospitality industry. Reed & Co. is the third Pittsburgh Magazine Best Vegan and Vegetarian to close in the last month (Bitter Ends was one of the more vegan-friendly restaurants in town, too).

Although the factors for each restaurant’s closing are unique, the loss of all four leaves a giant hole for Pittsburghers looking to eat plant-forward diets. With the opening of ShadoBeni’s North Side brick-and-mortar location earlier this week, that leaves four dine-in (Apteka, Onion Maiden, The Zenith round out the list), one bakery (Allegro Hearth) and one cafe (Abeille Voyante Tea Co.), as well as a few pop-ups to offer 100% vegan menus; Udipi in Monroeville is 100% vegetarian but does include dairy in some of its menu items.

As for Putlitz, he says he’s thinking ahead to the next project and is grateful for the support Pittsburgh offered during Reed & Co.’s run.

“No regrets. We did everything we could.”

Reed & Co. is scheduled to close on April 22, but Putlitz says it likely will sell out of many items prior to that date.

4113 Butler St., Lawrenceville, 412/605-0237, reedandcopgh.com

Categories: PGHeats