The owners of Pia’s Trattoria are forging ahead with its expansion into the former Tutto Bene’s space on Beach Boulevard. They have a new concept for the space – and approval of a parking variance from the City of Gulfport.
Pia’s owners Tom and Pia Goff are bringing a new open-air oriented concept called Pia’s Veranda to the Tutto Bene space at 3038 Beach Blvd. South, across 30th Avenue from Pia’s Trattoria at 3054 Beach Blvd. South.
Tom Goff hopes to have Pia’s Veranda open in early February in light of Gulfport’s Board of Adjustment approval of a parking variance related to the new venue.
Tutto Bene, owned and operated by Allan and Michelle Bishop, closed last year. They still own the property via Bishopco. Holdings Inc. and lease it to the Goffs.
The Bishops’ St. Petersburg company requested the variance from Gulfport for Pia’s Veranda as part of the Goffs’ plans to add 50 additional outdoor seats to the venue. Under Gulfport’s zoning and land-use rules, the additional seating would also require 13 new off-street parking spots. Bishopco asked the city to reduce the 13-space requirement to to zero.
The Board of Adjustment voted unanimously Jan. 12 to approve the variance. The approval carries the stipulation that the outdoor expansion must get completed within one year for the reduced parking requirements to stick.
Gulfport’s Principal Planner Mike Taylor told the board there were currently 100 surplus parking spots in relation to existing businesses and uses. The 13-spot variance takes that current surplus down to 87.
Tom Goff said parking variance just needed to be cleared up before embarking on opening the new Veranda space. That space will have 120 outdoor seats and 30 indoors, he said.
The new space will not take reservations — which often fill up Pia’s Trattoria — but will have live music, Tom Goff said.
Pia’s Trattoria opened in 2005. It has 60 seats outside, plus 14 on a sidewalk cafe area.
Restaurants across Florida and the U.S. have turned more to outdoor dining during the coronavirus.
“COVID is affecting things. People want to sit outside,” Kelly Wright, the Board of Adjustment chair, said.