Marking “one of the darkest days” in its history, Hotlips Pizza has closed three of its five restaurants in Portland, Oregon, a sign of tough economic times for the family-owned chain that was founded in 1984.

Hotlips Pizza co-owners Jeana Edelman and David Yudkin issued an announcement about the closures on the company’s website on March 27.

“The closure of restaurants at 33rd and Killingsworth, Hollywood District and Civic/Stadium scales the company to two locations,” the company said. The remaining locations are at 22nd and Southeast Hawthorne and the Pearl District/Ecotrust Building in northwest Portland.

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“It is with a terribly heavy heart that we must close these beloved stores and have the first layoffs in our history,” Edelman said. “Each person is hardworking and has contributed mightily to the teams they have worked with and to the longevity and health of our company. Many have been with us for years, decades even. I have sincere gratitude for the time they’ve given us and deep sadness at this unfortunate turn.”

“This is one of the darkest days in Hotlips’ history,” Edelman added.

“We gave it our all, sustaining jobs through the entire pandemic by retooling to keep our staff and customers safe,” Yudkin said. “But the ongoing economic effects hurt us profoundly, as with so many other businesses. It is little comfort that we are not alone in these hardships; we are also not alone in the drastic changes that must be put into place in order to carry on. We plan to move forward with a smaller crew, smaller footprint, fewer moving parts and realistic, attainable goals.”

Edelman and Yudkin noted that Hotlips Pizza “will continue to serve customers in all parts of Portland with more delivery options and expanded delivery areas.”

Hotlips Pizza closed another location—the one at Portland State University—in July 2020 after a pandemic lockdown emptied out the university neighborhood.

Hotlips is known to champion local farmers and to hold fundraisers for causes like the Black Resilience Fund, an emergency fund providing immediate resources to Black Portlanders, and the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. The chain also joined in an early 2020 project to feed nearly 500 homeless people daily at newly opened county shelters during the pandemic.

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