Chef Claudy Pierre: ‘A win for the community’— Arnold’s Tea will remain open, but Pierre calls on community to provide more support
Consent order signed in court, Jan. 23—eviction delayed for at least four months
By Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
Calling it a “win for the community,” Claudy Pierre, owner of Arnold’s Tea on the North Side, on Thursday, Jan. 23, signed a consent order with 502 E. Ohio L.P., better known as the Historic Deutschtown Development Corporation, to keep the doors open and continue business as usual.
But Pierre, in an exclusive interview with the New Pittsburgh Courier moments after the consent order was signed by a judge in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County’s civil division, said he needs the community’s help.
“Book events, book some of our catering events, come in, bring your meetings here, speak kindly about us,” Pierre, 35, said. “Make sure that you uplift us like we uplift you, and really allow us to keep working hard on your behalf.”
Since it became public that the HDDC filed a notice of eviction of Arnold’s Tea in November 2019, Pierre said a number of people have canceled previously booked events at Arnold’s, or stopped coming to the location at all, believing Arnold’s was closed. But Pierre appealed the eviction, and on Thursday, Jan. 23, Pierre and Mark Fatla, the executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference, met with court-trained, volunteer mediator Christian Bagin to attempt to resolve the matter.
Both sides exited Courtroom 702 in the City-County Building, Downtown, with a consent order agreement, obtained by the Courier. Pierre, as owner of Arnold’s Tea, must pay 502 E. Ohio L.P. $910.29 for back utilities for October, November and December 2019 and January 2020, plus the balance of the January 2020 rent. The payment must be made by March 5.
Pierre must make all future rent and utility bill payments in full, and rent payments must be received by the 5th of each month.
502 E. Ohio L.P. must patch Arnold’s Tea’s linoleum floor, bleach the mold in the utility closet, add a physical mailbox, and make repairs to the moulding around the exit door on the outside.
The consent order stated that Arnold’s Tea must vacate the premises by 5 p.m. May 31, but it’s uncertain if Arnold’s Tea will be granted a new agreement from 502 E. Ohio L.P. to operate at the location after May 31 if Pierre has shown a propensity to pay all bills in full and on time.
Pressed for clarification, Fatla, reached by phone on Jan. 23, told the Courier: “We came to an agreement, we’ll honor that agreement, looking forward to finishing out the terms of that agreement. And that’s that.”
Fatla, however, stressed that any notion the HDDC didn’t want Pierre and Arnold’s Tea to succeed was nonsense. “When people say we didn’t want Claudy, who do you think rented to Claudy in the first place?” he told the Courier exclusively.
It’s still a win in Pierre’s eyes, because Arnold’s Tea will be in business on E. Ohio St. for at least four more months, rather than, say, 10 more days.
“We’ve had our struggles, but I think now we’re heading in the right direction, and we’re going to do some positive, powerful things to really make the most impact in the community,” Pierre told the Courier.
Pierre said that while some thought his business was closed, others have continued to support him, purchasing the popular Happy Turkey Club sandwich, along with other soups, salads and veg wraps. He’s looking for that support to continue—or better yet, increase—over the next few months, as he looks to stay at the current E. Ohio St. location throughout the summer and into the fall. He called Arnold’s Tea a “community asset,” and the “best ‘third space’ hands down in the city. That’s where you come for a meeting outside of your office and outside of your home, so we want to continue to be that for you.”
Arnold’s Tea employees six people, and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Arnold’s is a culture. It’s not just a place, and we say that with a big heart because Arnold’s is a feeling,” Pierre said. “Even when you’re on E. Ohio Street, you walk in Arnold’s and you could feel how light the air is and how powerful the atmosphere is.”
Pierre, a New York City native who attended Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh along with the University of Pittsburgh, also referred to Arnold’s Tea as a “staple,” a “pillar,” a “melting pot.”
“It brings everyone together,” Pierre said, “so we’re going to keep fighting to do what we have to do and we’re excited to still be open to service our community.”