‘Not enough cases to back it up’

‘Not enough cases to back it up’

AVONDALE — The owners of Avondale restaurant Pisolino transformed the Italian eatery into a market in 2020 to survive the pandemic.

The pivot was successful at the time, but in the end it wasn’t enough to save the small business.

Italian market Pisolino is closing on Avondale’s Belmont Avenue after seven years, the owners announced on social media this week. The last working day of the Italian market is September 25.

Pisolino is hosting a pizza party on Sept. 25 from 3 to 7 p.m. with heavily discounted grocery items as “last hurrah,” and to thank their customers for their support, said co-owner Rachel De Marte.

Pisolino struggled with foot traffic before the pandemic, and that “fight resumed when the world reopened and people had so many more options,” De Marte said.

The hub “was our saving grace, but right now there’s nothing — whatever combination it is — if it was just dine-in, takeaway, a market — there’s not enough business to back it up,” she said.

De Marte, who also owns and operates her own event planning company, opened Pisolino in 2016 at 2755 W. Belmont Ave. with her ex-husband, James De Marte. James De Marte is an Italian chef.

Pisolino served rustic Italian dishes and drinks, including Pugliese-style pizzas, breakfast paninos, and wines of the quartino.

In the summer of 2020, a few months after the city was shut down by the pandemic, the owners switched and turned the restaurant into an Italian market with imported groceries, takeaways and a deli.

RELATED: Avondale Restaurant turns into Italian Pisolino Market with wine, pasta, olive oil and more

That concept did “very well” for a while, Rachel De Marte said. Customers also placed large catering orders to help the company weather the pandemic, she said.

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