Fat Cat, a fast-casual restaurant and music venue located in the Deutschtown neighborhood of Pittsburgh’s Northside, has closed. The restaurant, which opened in July 2023, served its final customers on March 30.

Owners Cory Hughes and Alex Feltovich, who also run the award-winning Fig & Ash, announced the closure via social media. Despite a lineup of live music acts on the second floor, the restaurant’s downstairs dining area struggled to meet sales goals, leading to the difficult decision to close.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 30% of new restaurants fail within their first year, and traditionally, only one in five restaurants find long-term success. Hughes cited growing food costs and a significant increase in their mortgage loan rate as key factors in their decision. The owners were able to secure employment for all the Fat Cat staff prior to the announcement.

Fat Cat aimed to fill the gap in live music left by James Street Gastropub’s closure before the pandemic. Its short run paired dining with entertainment by local musicians. However, the music schedule never fully developed, and inconsistent acts along with poor marketing left restaurant-goers uncertain about what genre of songs would be paired with their meals.

Before Fat Cat, 520 East Ohio Street was home to JR’s Bar, a venue that had mixed reviews, being either a welcoming dive or a nuisance bar depending on who you asked. The interior was worn with age, and the kitchen desperately needed remodeling. The transformation by the Hughes-Feltovich team was nothing short of amazing, making the space unrecognizable from its previous form.

The closure marks the end of an ambitious venture that sought to establish East Ohio Street as Pittsburgh’s new Restaurant Row. The brief run of Fat Cat comes with lessons that Hughes and Feltovich will incorporate into their next ventures. Later this year, Allegheny City Brewing is expected to open next to Fig & Ash a few doors down.

As the business owners refocus on what worked, the small fan base will pour one out in memory of a good restaurant closed too soon.