Rest in cheese piece: Beloved Reno pizza joint Food + Drink shutters tomorrow
An eccentric restaurateur who delighted locals with his artisan pizzas, gooey desserts and social media banter will close his Midtown restaurant Saturday.
Aaron Foster and his eatery, Food + Drink, survived the economic bust that sent shock waves throughout the restaurant industry only to close up shop once pandemic restrictions eased.
Foster declined to say much about the decision to shutter Food + Drink. In a text message to RGJ, he admitted that he had no real answer to give.
"Just don't really know what I can tell you beyond just being very, very tired," Foster said. "I know that's likely an unsatisfying answer."
Through Food + Drink's Facebook page, Foster maintained a social media presence that touched and amused local netizens during the COVID-19 lockdown. An actor and artist, he was a natural in front of the camera.
In a video posted in March 2020, Foster joked about the pandemic's impact on his restaurant, which had opened just the month before on St. Lawrence Avenue. For a fleeting moment, emotion got the better of him.
The post was viewed by thousands, a feat for any small local business or YouTuber. Foster credited the emotional video with keeping his business afloat.
Foster had spent two years and most of his life savings trying to open Food + Drink before the pandemic forced him, practically overnight, to convert it into a take-out only operation.
He told the RGJ in February 2021 that he wouldn't open a restaurant again if he knew such challenges awaited him.
"I have advice for those people (wanting to open a restaurant). Take $50,000, burn it. Take $20,000, give it to some neighborhood kids and let them punch you, and then do something else," Foster said.
But by late May 2021, it seemed that Foster had weathered the storm, surviving an economic downturn from which many restaurants never recovered.
Per usual, the Food + Drink Facebook page featured gorgeous photos of Foster's culinary magic: ICSOUS (Ice cream sandwich of unusual size), meatball gigante (very big meatballs), and the "fig+pig" (a white pizza with mozzarella and asiago cheese, fig preserve, arugula, a poached egg, and more).
A Facebook post in early June, before the closure announcement, boasted of Food + Drink's inclusion on a "best pizza in Nevada" list on the website LoveFood.com. Visitors could now dine in with proof of vaccination. Take-out orders, which Foster made through a time slot system, were regularly sold out. Outwardly, business was booming.
Yet, it seemed, something was missing.
In a February 2021 interview with RGJ, Foster expressed some frustration at being confined to the kitchen, away from the customers who devoured his pesto "Grasshopper" pizza and coccoli, salted fried dough stuffed with prosciutto ham and cheese.
"I stand next to the oven and shove pizza out the door," Foster said.
Still, it came as a shock to many Food + Drink lovers in mid-June when, in a Facebook video post, Foster announced the closure.
"Maybe there's not a right way to tell that June 26 will be our last day. I know that might really come as a surprise," Foster said. "Your support has changed our lives.
"You gave myself, my parents a purpose and a way for us to get through the pandemic together."
Foster didn't explain the reason for the decision but said that he would have more to say in the "next few weeks."
He told RGJ in a text message that he'd "likely be more communicative at a later time," adding that "everything is just, well, everything right now."
In a video posted to Food + Drink's Facebook page two days before closing, Foster said that business had been busier than ever, joking, "maybe we should close every week."
In a text message, Foster emphasized his appreciation and thanks to the community.
"Thank you for the incredible support and kindness, and I'm sorry if I've let you down," Foster said. "I do truly hope you enjoyed your pie tonight."