Updated: 6:15 p.m. Dec. 22, 2020
Trying to keep a restaurant open this year wasn’t easy. Neither was trying to open one.
We’d be remiss not to mention the powerful currents these businesses are up against this year. About 100,000 restaurants nationwide, nearly one in six, closed long-term or permanently as a result of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.
2020 has been a testament to the persistence of the industry and its workers. But it’s also been a testament, unfortunately, to the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with new business restrictions now in place and congress only now closing in on a second round of financial relief after nine months of impact, Pittsburgh’s industry continues to weather a storm way beyond its control.
But there is something we can do about it: Takeout. (Gift cards are another great option.)
Current restrictions in Pennsylvania do not allow indoor dining, but they do allow you to order your food — and even your drinks — for pickup. (Outdoor dining is also allowed but definitely harder to pull off in wintertime Pittsburgh.) And those sales are a lifeline right now for countless establishments and their employees.
If you’re unsure where to start, allow us to help. We asked some of Pittsburgh’s best food bloggers to tell us about their favorite takeout spots and more. See what they told us here.
And now, without further delay, the year in food. Here are some of the biggest openings and saddest closings of 2020.
🍤 2 Sisters 2 Sons is serving up Caribbean cuisine — think jerk chicken, seafood fritters, and fried plantain — in Sharpsburg, TribLive reported.
🔥 Cobra brought its Korean-style tabletop grilling, bar, club energy, and private-room karaoke to Bloomfield, Pittsburgh Magazine reported.
🍗 Coop De Ville, a southern-style fast-casual restaurant and bar from Richard DeShantz, is now slinging fried chicken and coffee in the Strip.
🔥 Fig & Ash brought farm-to-flame faves to the North Side more than three years after breaking ground.
🍖 Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, beloved for its wood-fired meats, moved to a new Downtown location.
🍻 The Lagerlands Socially Distant Beer Garden was a popular new spot this summer at The Highline.
🍔 Oak Hill Post opened in Brookline with everything from veggie burgers to a sandwich called Man Bear Pig.
🍞 Pane è Pronto brought “fresh baked breads, traditional Italian sandwiches, hot ready-to-go dishes, pastries, fresh pasta, sauces, and more” to the Strip.
🥙 Pita My Shawarma is now serving up fan-favorite mediterranean fare from its new brick-and-mortar in Lawrenceville.
🍤 Soul & Sea opened on the South Side with everything from lobster to salads to kabobs. Even better? It’s run by Who’s Nexter Brittany Houser.
🍸 Brillobox closed after 15 years of cocktails, dance parties, and #brilloselfies.
🐱 Colony Cat Cafe bid farewell to the Strip District after finding homes for 350 cats.
🐷 Hambone’s in Lawrenceville permanently closed following the death of owner Jeff Holt and a financial struggle worsened by the pandemic.
🍹 Mixtape in Garfield, known for its craft cocktails and no-tipping policy, closed, writing on social media: “Our model simply could not be molded to meet the new, challenging landscape of the service industry in a way that we found sustainable or meaningful.”
🥘 NOLA on the Square has closed after about 10 years serving Creole cuisine Downtown. The owner told WTAE: “It’s a tough business. It’s tough to survive. And this (meaning the pandemic) just makes it more difficult for us.”
🍕 Pizza Taglio, an East Liberty spot known for its wood-fired pizzas, closed this year.
🥓 Shiloh Grill left its perch atop Mount Washington after 10 years in business and oh-so-many Bacon Nights and frozen cosmos.
🥄 Spoon announced it would be closing this summer after a decade, and Square Cafe moved into that corner spot in East Liberty.
🍣 Sushi Kim closed up shop after nearly 30 years in the Strip District — and five years after it first announced plans to do so. We’re still holding out for a sequel.
🥗 Zorba’s, the beloved Downtown gyro and chicken salad spot, closed after 29 years.
🍟 Essie’s Original Hot Dog Shop, better known as “The O,” closed in Oakland after 60 years, citing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and other unspecified challenges, per The Pitt News.
🍴Pork and Beans, the popular Texas-style barbecue joint on 6th Street, closed after four years, Pittsburgh Magazine reports.
If you appreciate work like this, help us make more of it by becoming a member!