UPDATE: With the aid of several Puyallup restaurant owners and Puyallup city officials, Arista has reopened after only a one-day closure. However, Roasthouse by Arista remains closed as owner Ben Herreid works on a plan to reopen the restaurant. Read more here.
Ben Herreid made a difficult decision this week. Facing a shortage of funds to keep his restaurants’ doors open, he opted to close them.
Arista, his two-year-old handmade pasta restaurant in downtown Puyallup, and his recently opened Roasthouse by Arista in Parkland closed Tuesday.
Running a restaurant, he said, “is always difficult. It’s difficult from the get-go. It isn’t easy to open and it isn’t easy to continue after you have opened unless you have a lot of money behind you.”
Money was the single reason for the closure. He had borrowed money at a high interest rate with the hope of eventually qualifying for a small business loan with better terms, but couldn’t make the threshold to qualify for the better loan. The bills caught up with him.
“It’s sad because I don’t think it was for a lack of customers. We were pretty busy,” said Herreid, who opened Arista in 2014 and followed with Roasthouse by Arista this year. He also operates a farm in the Puyallup valley and started a pasta company in 2013 that sold his fresh-made pastas at several farmers markets.
His menu at the downtown Puyallup restaurant featured the pastas locals grew to know through his market sales. The ravioli were heavily featured on the menu, often filled with playful flavor combinations.
The Parkland restaurant, which opened in October, focused on a menu of roasted meats, plus side dishes featuring produce straight from the Clarks Creek Farm he started with farming partner Drew Constant in 2015.
This year, they expanded the farm to six acres. The farm’s future is uncertain, but Herreid said he and Constant will continue to harvest the late crops that were planted. Restaurants interested in the produce should get in touch with Herreid through Arista’s Facebook page.
He said it’s possible he and Constant will continue to operate the farm and sell produce next year at farmers markets.
Herreid said he was most worried about his cooking and serving staff who are now in search of jobs.
“I’m hoping they can find something right away to hit the ground running,” he said. “I’m hoping they all find good spots. It was a wonderful place to work and a super-connected staff. It’s really hard. It wasn’t just a job for a lot of us. It was a really tight-knit group.”
He has sent out queries in the hopes of finding them employment. Anyone with job opportunities can message him on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
The personal setback, Herreid said, is immense, but he’s committed to move on and keep cooking.
“I’m hoping I can land on my feet and get back to the kitchen without the headache of being an owner. I have no anticipation of opening anything else right now. I just want to cook. That’s my focus right now.”