Newton Native’s Dorm Room ‘Restaurant’ to be Shut Down by Columbia University
The dorm room dinner club Pith is leaving Columbia University later this month along with its founder, Jonah Reider. The Newton native is graduating, and Pith is being shut down by college authorities, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Reider’s landlord, a university professor, is terminating his sublease in Hogan Hall, effective May 31. In a letter, the landlord wrote, “Ongoing issues that have been relayed to me by the university have made this necessary,” alluding to “conditions hazardous to all tenants in a faculty building” and Health Department complaints.
Pith launched late last year, with dishes like roasted celery root soup and seared scallops with chanterelle polenta, created by Reider in a common kitchen and served to paying guests in the suite he shared with three roommates. Soon, the frequent, eight-course dinners were booked up months in advance, first by Columbia students and alumni, and then from the wider gastronomic world. GrubStreet notes the waiting list grew to more than 1,000 reservations, fueled by media attention from outlets like the New Yorker and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Reider recognized Pith was a unique and potentially short-lived setup. “My roommates wouldn’t be cooking as much anyway, but it’s not fair to monopolize the common space,” he previously told Boston. “That’s been something to negotiate and discuss.”
Pith was not a moneymaker. The dinners cost between $10-$20, based on Reider’s costs. “I don’t aspire to have a space where people come in and pay a lot of money. That’s not truly a social experience,” he said at the time.
After graduation, Reider plans to stay in New York and hopes to find a new home for Pith, taking advantage of the growing sharing economy to barter food for partial rent, GrubStreet reports. In the meantime, he’s taking his finals.