GRAND RAPIDS — The owners of Brick Road Pizza Co. announced today that the family-owned staple will close its doors Sunday after 13 years in business on Wealthy Street.
Brick Road Pizza has been “running on fumes” since the start of the pandemic in Michigan nearly two years ago, co-owner Cindy Talbert told MiBiz.
Talbert and her husband, Jody, own the pizza restaurant that they run with their children, Nicholas Talbert and Sarah Piper. Business took a hit from the pandemic and it gradually became harder to hire workers, Cindy Talbert said. However, they didn’t consider closing the business until the past three weeks, she added.
“Once the omicron variant came, business dried up,” Talbert said. “Even if we could have stayed open to-go, this is a big piece of real estate we would have to pay for. We are set up for dine-in more than anything.”
Brick Road Pizza is a well-known restaurant in the East Hills neighborhood that is known for its vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The restaurant added a 12-tap bar and expanded its space at 1017 Wealthy St. SE in 2013.
“I have a very loyal group of people who work here, but I needed more help and I just couldn’t get anybody else,” Talbert said. “COVID killed Brick Road Pizza, for sure.”
Talbert is just shy of turning 64 and was hoping to retire from Brick Road, but she will now have to find a new job, she said. After establishing a formerly successful business, the Talberts are walking away without jobs and in debt, she said.
“In 2019, we had lines out the door,” Talbert said. “We were doing $1.5 million in sales, and now we’ve been down to maybe half of that.”
With well known thin margins in the restaurant industry, that much of a dip in sales meant that the Talberts were unable to make a profit in the past two years. The owners have no plans to relocate the restaurant.
“We’ve made good friends and some of those friends will always be considered family, for sure,” Talbert said. “We had a big vegan and gluten-free following and all of those people will certainly be missed. I regret that they didn’t support us more toward the end, but I can’t hold that against them for not wanting to go out in public with the way things are right now.”