Miami’s Best Pizza employees confirmed today what a tipster reported earlier: The venerable Coral Gables pizza shop is closing after 44 years at 1514 S. Dixie Hwy., citing rising rent.
“It’s not our decision,” says an employee who declined to give her name. “It’s the landlord.”
The family-owned restaurant has been in that location since 1970, first as a Little Caesars franchise for two decades, then as Miami’s Best Pizza since 1990. That’s when original owner “Big” Al Papich, a former University of Miami football player, passed the pizza-making torch to his son, Ray, and Ray’s business partner, Charles Butler.
Miami’s Best Pizza, popular for its discounts for UM students, Miami-Dade County employees and people over 62, evolved with the times. It didn’t accept credit or debit cards until 2007, and late-night hours were relatively new. Still, the pizzas remain hand-tossed, as they were in 1970.
“We’re working owners,” Ray Papich told the Miami Herald on the restaurant’s 40th anniversary. “We make the pizzas. You are always going to see an owner in the window.”
The restaurant has not landed on a final date of service, the employee said, adding that the plan is to re-open in a location to be determined.