By Sue Botos
Some people say there is no such thing as a free lunch these days. But don’t tell that to the hardy folks who will be braving the early blast of winter and lining up for the chance at a free meal every day for a year when Piada Italian Street Food opens its doors on Friday.
The Columbus-based casual dining chain began the food frenzy last year, according to company officials, by offering the first 100 customers at a store’s grand opening a free entree every day for a year. According to reports, it’s not unusual for fans to camp out overnight in hopes of snagging a prize. Chris Doody, Piada owner, is the co-founder of the Brio and Bravo restaurant chain. He sold his share of these franchises in 2006, and launched Piada.
Piada’s website, www.mypiada.com, features a clock ticking down the days, hours and minutes until the opening of the Rocky River store, the chain’s 17th and the first on Cleveland’s West Side. A location in South Euclid opened last year.
According to the website, Piada is “a fast casual, authentic Italian eatery serving hand rolled Piadas, a type of Italian sandwich, pasta bowls and chopped salads.” The concept is similar to the Mexican-themed Chipotle, as diners watch workers assemble their orders. Entrees are personalized with a choice of grilled items, like steak, Italian sausage, chicken, sauces and fresh vegetables. New on the menu will be the Piada meatball pasta, a 6-ounce meatball atop angel hair pasta with pomodoro sauce and Parmesan Reggiano cheese.
If a diner is overwhelmed with choices, the website offers instructional videos, and orders can also be placed online. The average cost of a meal is about $9, and the Rocky River location at 19925 Center Ridge Road will be open daily from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m.