By Zoe Rader

For The Diamondback

Anirudh Sridhar, a 2017 graduate of the University of Maryland, was a devoted Slices Pizza Co. customer for his four years in College Park. The workers behind the counter knew him, and no matter where his friends were on a given night, they'd all meet up at Slices.

"When you go to Maryland, there's so many pizza places and everyone finds the one that they're loyal to," Sridhar said. "My loyalty was to Slices."

But Slices on Route 1 is now closed — and it's not clear why.

A message posted on the restaurant's window stated, "WE APOLOGIZE SLICES PIZZA CO IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND THE GOOD TIME BEST REGARDS THE OWNER [sic]."

The Slices owner could not be reached for comment.

It's also uncertain when exactly the pizza place shut down. Ryan Chelton, College Park's economic development coordinator, said he found out about the closing Monday morning and has been trying to contact the owner since.

"It's unfortunate for the business — I know there's a lot of competition for them in the area," Chelton said. "If I had to guess, that'd probably be one of the reasons that they were struggling."

Chelton said he talked with the landlord of the building, who was also unsure why the restaurant left.

It's too early to tell what will replace Slices, but another restaurant is expected to fill the space, Chelton said.

"I've talked to a few businesses, other restaurant options, and they sound very interested in moving to a space downtown," he said. "I think the more we can increase the food diversity in the town, the better."

There are several pizza places in College Park, with Pizza Kingdom and Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza both close to Slices. Chelton said College Park's pizza-lovers — and the city's late-night crowd — may not be able to sustain so many restaurants with similar menus.

Slices isn't the first pizza place on Route 1 to shut its doors this summer. Pizza Mart, which had been open since 2014, closed in June.

Ali Ahmad, manager of Pizza Kingdom, said College Park is a tricky market. Although his restaurant has been pretty successful, he's still unsure how business will be in the future.

"The food business is hard, especially with pizza," Ahmad said. "I feel sorry for [Slices]. Every business has their family and employees, you know?"

Unlike Pizza Kingdom's jumbo slice or Lotsa's make-your-own style, Slices' fan favorites were its specialties, such as its heart-shaped pizzas — made around Valentine's Day — and macaroni-and-cheese pizza. The family-owned business was voted the third best late-night eatery in College Park by bestthingsmd.com.

Sridhar loved getting a slice of the mac-and-cheese pizza at the end of the night. He would always pair that with a slice of the Mona Lisa — a specialty pizza with grilled vegetables and crumbled goat cheese — because he could never decide on just one.

When he heard his favorite College Park pizza joint was closed, Sridhar was pretty upset, tweeting that it was "a tragedy."

"I was looking forward to getting a mac and cheese slice when I came back for Homecoming this fall," Sridhar said. "I guess that's out of the question now."