The 39-year-old Portland pizza chain Hotlips, which is also well-known for its house-made fruit sodas, has closed three of its five restaurants. The announcement was made on March 27, with the Civic, Killingsworth, and Hollywood locations closing effective immediately. Co-owners Jeana Edelman and David Yudkin attributed the closures to the “pandemic, labor, and economic stresses.”
Hotlips is strategically downsizing in the hopes that a smaller footprint, “fewer, moving parts and realistic, attainable goals” will make the company more sustainable moving forward. Edelman and Yudkin will focus on their remaining locations on SE Hawthorne Boulevard and in the Pearl District, the former of which serves as the company’s central kitchen and HQ.
“We gave it our all,” owner David Yudkin wrote in a press release. “Sustaining jobs through the entire pandemic by retooling to keep our staff and customers safe, 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.”
Alfred Edelman, Jeana Edelman’s father, founded Hotlips with other partners in 1984. The name was inspired by Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, a character on the popular ’70s television show M*A*S*H. Jeana Edelman and Yudkin, her husband, became involved with the company in 1989, managing a Seattle location. By 1994, the Seattle locations had been closed down and the couple had taken the reins of the company.
Economic effects from the pandemic forced the chain to close its oldest restaurant, which was located close to the Portland State University campus, in July 2020.
In addition to the closures, Hotlips is dialing back production of its sodas due to supply issues. “Soda sales are contracted back to only our restaurants,” Edelman told the Oregonian. “We will evaluate next steps when the summer fruit comes in.” In an effort to offset the recent closures, Hotlips’ remaining restaurants will expand their delivery areas and options and its mobile pizza trailer is available for events.