Hours after friends and family learned of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez-Llach’s death at the hands of a police Taser in summer 2013, friends and supporters began spray painting the pale yellow building where officers discovered him tagging. Soon it was covered in memorials and tributes.
Today, that’s washed away. And last week the once-vacant McDonald’s re-opened as Trouville Pizza & Restaurant, with an Uruguayan restaurant.
“Yes, they told us what happened here,” said manager Miguel Salaberry. “Look around. It’s mostly tourists. They have no idea what happened.”
It’s the owner’s first attempt outside of Uruguay, where he maintains locations in Montevideo, Salto, Paysandú, and Maldonado. The North Beach enclave that spills over onto the 79th Street Causeway and Normandy Isles seems to be the heart of the southern cone community. Popular Argentine restaurant Las Vacas Gordas is located only a few steps away.
The menu here is just as meat-centric. A parrillada ($45) offering blood sausage, chorizo, grilled short ribs, chicken, sweet breads, and a skirt steak. The Chivito al Plato ($16.50) is a broken down version of the iconic Uruguyan sandwich with a thin grilled tenderloin steak layered with ham, mozzarella, bacon, eggs and olives.
Indeed, few weekday guests munching on chicken salad sandwiches and grilled salmon platters seemed to have any idea of the building’s emotional past.
The State Attorney’s Office is still investigating the incident, after the office in March of last year revealed that Hernandez-Llach died from being Tasered.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has yet to go through Miami Beach police’s investigation pending the state attorney’s review, a spokeswoman said.
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Meanwhile, a Hernandez family lawsuit has sat quiet in Miami-Dade County court and officer Jorge Mercado who fired the Taser was never charged with any wrongdoing and remains on the force.
“It’s a sorry situation,” Salaberry said, “but I hope people will give us a chance.”
Trouville Pizza & Restaurant is located at 7100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-397-8958.