Piola on Lincoln Road Closing Tonight, Funeral Planned — With Coffin

Piola South Beach is the latest casualty in the transition of Lincoln Road from local hangout to soul-sucking tourist trap.

The restaurant, located around the corner from Lincoln Road at 1625 Alton Rd. closes tonight after a 15-year run. Illiyana Stefanova, marketing manager for Piola, says the pizza shop opened in December 2000 and is closing after being pushed out by corporate greed. "The lease was up and the landlord raised the rent to a price that didn't make sense."

Tonight, the pizzeria, part of a small chain founded in 1986 in Treviso, Italy, with about 40 stores throughout the world, dies. And, like all things that come to an end, there's a funeral planned — complete with coffin and complimentary food and drinks.

"We're inviting everyone from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight for a party. At 6 p.m., a black SUV will pull up with a coffin, just like an actual funeral. We're inviting friends of the restaurant to throw in a note or a remembrance as a goodbye to the old Piola."

Stefanova says the idea behind holding a funeral was twofold. It was a way for long-time customers to say goodbye to the restaurant. "For the entire life of the restaurant, we were popular with locals. We never really relied on tourists. Since we announced we're closing, people have been calling us with their memories. One woman said she met her husband at Piola. Many people would come with babies and children that are now High School. We've seen kids grow, go to college, and come back with their own children."

The other reason to hold a funeral is to mourn the loss of Lincoln Road, itself, as a place where small, local businesses once thrived, only to be replaced by large retail chains like H&M and the Gap. As Stefanova remarked, "I couldn't believe when Van Dyke Cafe closed and was replaced by Lululemon. This is the heart and soul of Miami Beach and now it's turning into a big commercial environment. Small shops are being pushed out, unfortunately.

We're the victims of big corporate greed. Maybe tourists go shopping here now, but locals don't really come here anymore."

Though Piola is closing its Alton Road location, a Brickell location at 1250 South Miami Ave. remains open, along with three in Broward. There are also plans to reopen somewhere on South Beach. "We are in negotiations with several other spaces," says Stefanova.

But before the rebirth comes tonight's death. As Piola's marketing maven says, "It is sad. We're crying here. But, at the same time this could be a new beginning."

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.