“The jazz bar had a successful first year,” said Miguel Figueroa, restaurant chef. “It went above what we were expecting. We were expecting to be ahead, but it was much more than that. People accepted it right away.”
The hotel has been preparing for Piccolo’s birthday for nearly three months, arranging special four-piece bands for the weekend.
Piccolo added two new aspects to the hotel, including an appetizer menu and live music, according to Hans Van der Reijden, managing director.
“We’ve always had a successful restaurant with Ariccia,” Van der Reijden said. “But if you don’t want a full meal, Piccolo is the perfect place to go. And if you want live jazz music, it’s the only place in Auburn and Opelika to be.”
Piccolo opened as an alternative to the downtown bars.
“If you think about what we don’t have in Auburn, it’s a small plate restaurant, jazz music, comfy seats, a nice fireplace,” Figueroa said. “And that’s what we created.”
Denizcan Billor, senior in electrical engineering, said he attended the celebration for the $1 specials and relaxing atmosphere.
“Piccolo definitely attracts a different crowd,” Billor said. “It’s just somewhere that’s a lot more laid back. The service is always good, the food is different, and it doesn’t smell like a bar.”
Holly Muncie of Auburn went to meet up with her friends.
“Piccolo is enjoyable because it caters to a different age group,” Muncie said. “It’s cozy and a fun place for friends. We like that it offers food because we’re not necessarily here to be at a bar. We just want to have a bite to eat and head home.”
Piccolo creates an atmosphere that was missing before, according to Figueroa.
“Before we opened Piccolo, we had the lounge, but there was no ambience, there was no theme,” Figueroa said, “so we decided to do something completely different.”
Piccolo and Ariccia work with the University to provide a restaurant experience for students.
“(At Ariccia) they can understand how the restaurant runs, how to wait a table,” Figueroa said. “But in the bar, you have the lounge ambience, you have the small servings, you have the option of talking about the food and making recommendations.”
In the future, they hope to add new machines and different cooking methods to Piccolo, Figueroa said.
A cotton candy machine has been ordered, and Figueroa hopes to experiment with molecular cuisine, a type of organic cooking.
Attracting jazz musicians to the area is another continuing goal of Piccolo, according to Van der Reijden.
“What has been really great for us is the quality of musical talent,” Van der Reijden said. “It goes up every month, and now that it is more established, a lot of musicians call our agents and say they would like to play. It makes it very fun.”
Piccolo has live jazz music 8 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.