After 50 years, Frankie's Pizza remains as no-nonsense as ever. The slices are still square, you still get a complimentary sample for immediate noshing, and the prices still can't be beat -- you can score a tomato and cheese slice for a buck and a dime. "We're still doing things the way we did in 1955. If I change anything, there are people who'd be devastated," explains Frankie's daughter, Roxanne Pasquarella.
For generations of Miamians, Frankie's Pizza evokes memories of a simpler time, when the Magic City was green. Roxanne grew up in her father's store, and she remembers the early days vividly. "It was like paradise. Bird Road was just a rocky road when we first started, and now it's a six-lane highway," she says. Frankie's Pizza was a no-frills mom-and-pop joint back then. Now it's a local landmark kept alive by Frankie's daughters, Roxanne and Renee. "Biologically, I might be his firstborn, but Frankie's Pizza was my dad's first baby. We just couldn't let anything happen to it," Roxanne explains.
The picture (above) is a reminder of happier days, when Frankie and his wife Doreen were able to celebrate the fruits of their labor. The 50th anniversary will be bittersweet for the daughters Pasquarella: Frankie had a massive stroke in 1980 that robbed him of speech and mobility, and Doreen succumbed to diabetes in 2002. In her honor, all of today's proceeds will go to diabetes charities. "People are asking, 'What are you giving away for free?' Well, we've been giving out free pizza for years, because the trademark for Frankie's is the slice on top to eat on the way home. Everybody who comes that day will be doing something for somebody else, in terms of diabetes research. All that money will go to a good cause," declares Roxanne.