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Conversations with Mario [Interview]

Conversations with Mario [Interview]
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  • Conversations with Mario [Interview]

    Post #1 - October 29th, 2007, 8:35 am
    Post #1 - October 29th, 2007, 8:35 am Post #1 - October 29th, 2007, 8:35 am
    Conversations with Mario

    By Alan Lake (Jazzfood)

    Image
    For someone with ice in his blood, this is one warm gentleman.

    For the record: Mario DiPaolo Jr. aka “Skip” aka “Mario” of Mario’s Italian Lemonade on Taylor Street in Chicago. There are many Chicagoan’s that would have a hard time getting through the summer without his help, and we’re blessed to have it.

    A Chicago culinary landmark dating over 50 yrs, Mario’s is still the way it was then… now. Nothing fancy or new, in fact, an anachronism, a true Chicago gem. It’s comforting that some things remain the same.

    After a lifetime of partaking in the nectar of the lemon, I finally had the opportunity to chat with Skip.


    A: So where was Mario Sr. from?
    M: Rochetta al Volturno, a little village between Rome and Naples, our denomination is Abruzzi. We’re called the ditch diggers of Italy.

    A: Tell me about what his life was like there?
    M: My dad was a farmer actually. They raised figs and olives and grapes. When he was 10 years old he was cooking for 50 or 60 farmhands. He loved to cook. He’d go to the chicken house, choose the chickens, kill them, bring them home with all the feathers, cut them open and clean them, take the skin off, the feet off and say “this is for soup, this is for frying etc”. I can honestly say, since my dad passed away I haven’t had as great a meal as he could make. I’ve yet to find a cook that can compare.

    A: What was your favorite thing he made?
    M: He made great spaghetti. He made the noodles himself. He had no fancy machines. He had a table and a broomstick that I had taken all the paint off of for him. He would braid it and braid it and braid it, and then, I never saw anyone do this, he would snap it and it would all cut. Then he’d lay it on the bed and dry it out. He learned it in Italy. As good as a cook as he was…there would be nothing in the refrigerator, he could make a meal. A great meal.

    A: What happened when he got here?
    M: My father was walking from Union Station with a little suitcase when he accidentally met Florence Scala.* They started talking and he said he had to go to Taylor St, that that’s where all the “paesan’s” were. She asked him if he had a place to stay or had anything to eat. He said no, so she took him upstairs and fed him and found him an apartment. They were friends for life.

    Later on, she had a restaurant around Taylor and Miller that had great food. That was probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. She cooked like if it was for her family, on a regular kitchen stove and had a regular kitchen refrigerator. It was exhausting because she did everything herself. She made lasagna that was like 16-17 layers. Not 3-4 layers like today. She made gnocchi, scarole, cicoria (dandelion greens), “gavadils” (cavatelli)… a lot of food that we’d call “peasant food” today

    A: Lets get back to Mario Sr.
    M: By the early 40’s he’d opened a general store on Harrison and Leavitt, that’s where he met my mom. She was a self-taught professional ice skater and skated with Sonya Henne and the Ice Capades.

    A: Where did the ice recipe come from?
    M: From my father, it was in his head. In 1950 they moved from Harrison Street to Taylor Street and he opened another general store (1066 W. Taylor). He sold everything, Lionel, Schwinn, Max Factor… like a department store. Everybody sold lemonade, everybody had a machine. There was probably 15-20 frozen lemonade stands. You’d get a hand cranked machine for a couple hundred bucks at Charugi Hardware. Everyone had their own recipes.

    Because I was a little bit hyper in school, my dad got a cart for me with a bucket and umbrella and put it in front of the store and told me to crank. It would take me about two hours to make a batch. After a year of turning the machine, my right arm had gotten larger, so he got me another machine for my other arm, for my left hand. Even it out.

    We’d get a block of ice that weighed 100 lbs delivered by horse and wagon. We’d put the ice inside the store and I would make a batch. At the time, we just made lemon. It was 2 cents a cup.

    Lemons and Domino sugar. That was my life.

    A: So the recipe was developed here in Chicago?
    M: Right, right. Like I said, everybody had a recipe. Some people put a little lime in it, some people put pop in it, some people put eggs in it. I mean, we just used sugar, lemons and water. That’s our recipe. Now, going into the year 2007, nobody uses fresh lemons anymore. Nearly everybody else is using concentrates. It’s a lot of work squeezing lemons by hand. Slicing lemons. Keeping them cold. I have a walk-in but I still go to the market all the time. We probably built the stand as you know it now, about 1959 or 60.

    A: When did you branch out into other flavors? I know lemon is the base and some flavors use extracts as opposed to fresh fruit…
    M: Yes, yes. All the fruit doesn’t ripen at the same time and I only use the best extracts. They’re really good. Actually, the flavors came about as an accident. The first flavor we tried was Chocolate. We played around with it for a while but we just couldn’t get it right. This would be about 1958 or 59. We sold snowballs too, which is crushed ice and syrup.

    One day at the stand, my sister and I were having a snowball fight. It was either strawberry or cherry, I don’t remember. My sister (Donna) was by the lemonade container and it was open. I threw the snowball at her and it landed inside the container. When we tried fishing it out, we mixed it accidentally and then we tasted it and it tasted very good. When my father came home from work we showed him. He was like “Whoa!”.

    Image
    The DiPaolo’s circa 65

    A: Like the first guy to drop chocolate into peanut butter.
    M: Yeah. Up until that time, nobody had any flavors. Just lemon. We had all the syrups for the snowballs so we started to fool with more flavors. Then we made cherry, grape, lime and as time went on it evolved into putting fresh fruit in like watermelon and honeydew. This would be around 62. We did grapefruit, but that didn’t sell too well… and apple.

    A: I’d love to see grapefruit again. I’d bet it would sell these days. Do people actually buy snowballs?
    M: Yeah, yeah, kids do. My sister and I used to like them. She used to work here with me but she’s semi-retired. Then I brought my kids in. What was fun was when we’d all be here making lemonade.

    A: That’s the whole slow food thing, where it’s family tradition done the old way with no shortcuts, still using the real ingredients, taking the time and still doing it the way your father showed you how to do it and turning out an artesianal product.
    M: Yes.

    A: You’re an iconic Chicago institution. I couldn’t imagine a summer here without you. And it’s not just me. I mean, you look out onto the street from behind the counter and it’s a great equalizer. Everyone standing in line. A cross-section of Chicago from all walks of life from all over the city. Everyone loves Mario’s. To me, Mario’s is synonymous with summer in the city.
    M: And I’m thankful for that. When I look out there and see all those people, I’m always thankful that we have customers. Loyal customers that I’ve seen for years. I go to so many places that don’t care about the customers. I tell the girls “Take care of the customers”.

    You know, without the customer, you’re closed.

    A: You’re kind of an enigma. Everybody knows of you, but very few know you or your people. What do you do in the off-season?
    M: We’ve bought property and I do rehabbing.

    A: So you’re not lying on a beach in Boca?
    M: No, no (laughs). First off, I have a fear of flying so I have to drive everywhere, so that cuts down on the travel. I usually try to go away every other year for a week or two. I know it’s not enough, but even when I traveled more, like in the 60’s and 70’s, I always was so happy to get back home to Taylor Street.

    God put me here to sell lemonade and to live here. This is where I’m going to die.

    A: So this isn’t just a legacy that you’re carrying on. You love it.
    M: Right. When I got married, my wife said, “Aren’t we going to move?” and I said no. We’re not going to move, we’re going to stay right here and raise our children. I wanted my kids to see what their dad did. I did not want my kids… I’m in a lemonade stand here and they’re in a pool in Burr Ridge.

    They wanted a pool, so I got them a hose.

    I told them to forget about playing in the summertime. Summertime is for the lemonade stand. My son Mario probably has squeezed every lemon for the last 5 years. Nothing beats squeezing them by hand. It makes you big and strong squeezing lemons all the time. He’s made all the flavors. I taught him well. Like my father did for me.

    A: Who knows the recipe?
    M: I’ve shown all my children everything. You know, my wife keeps saying that if something happens to me they’re going to have to close, which I never like hearing. I want to think that if something happens to me, they’re able to keep going. When my dad passed away, we were still able to go on.

    My dad taught me that he’s not always going to be here… so he taught me everything. I was actually running the stand, ordering, fixing the machines, dealing with all the people by the time I was twelve or thirteen years old. He gave me a free hand in running the stand.

    I think one of the greatest things a parent can teach their children, is to live without them.

    A: How many pounds of ice and fruit do you go through in a season?
    M: I don’t keep track of that. I don’t know how many lemonades I sell. My wife comes and takes the readings from the register. Money just isn’t that important to me. I can buy what I want to buy and go where I want to go. I don’t need a lot. I don’t own a suit or a tie, a watch, a ring. I still drive a piece of junk. What we make, I honestly don’t know.

    I feel more hurt if people don’t like the lemonade. Sometimes I stand in line and listen to the comments. That means a lot to me. It’s not about the money. It doesn’t matter. It’s the reputation. There were summers when a few people criticized the lemonade and that’s all I’d remember. Thousands came and loved it, but I remembered those comments.

    A: That’s a very common trait for those of us in the business. If I put out a thousand plates and get back 4, that’s what I remember, not the 996 that went out without a hitch.
    M: Yeah. The money is nice but without the other, it just doesn’t matter.

    A: What’s the most popular flavor?
    M: It’s still lemon. When I make peach though, it’s peach.

    A: I remember you guys used to do mango, honeydew, nectarine…
    M: I told my younger son Marco, if he helps more, we’ll bring those flavors back. It’s a lot of work. There’s not enough time in the day.

    A: I’d be honored to hustle a knife for you. Just because I’d love to see the flavors back, even for a short while… those were childhood memories of mine. I’m sure the rest of your customers would as well.
    M: I told my son Mario that we’re going to do honeydew next year.

    A: I’ll hold you to it. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there actually was a Mario’s peach watch on the Internet. On LTHForum.com. Over the last couple summers, people were reporting and debating on peach’s non-availability daily. Is it there yet? Will he do it and if so, when and for how long? Food geeks are like that.
    M: Yeah (laughs). I didn’t make it for a couple of years. One day I was on the highway and a guy is looking at me and he rolls down his window and I’m thinking, did I cut him off, did I do something wrong? And he yells at me “Are you gonna have peach this year”? I put a lot of peach in it this year. More than I normally do.

    A: Some like it peachy. I know I do. So, when you make the ice, what do you look for? Is there something you know, like, this is going to be a particularly good batch? As the iceman, what does it tell you?
    M: Well I put a lot of peach in it this year and the peaches have a lot of water and that goes into the ice and it gets a little looser. Slushier. That’s the trade off.

    A: I’ll endure.

    How did the Dan Ryan expansion and the Circle campus being built effect your life here?

    M: When people started to move out, I lost half of my buddies. Guys who I’ve never seen since the day they left. What they tore down was probably the nicest part of this whole neighborhood.


    A: There were other places to put the university.
    M: Yes.

    A: How about the Maxwell Street redevelopment? What do you think about having a Jamba Juice on Maxwell and Halsted? Me, I think it’s sacrilege. You’re not going to let that happen here are you?
    M: You know, you have to bend a little bit. I would have liked to see the Polish sausage place back, I thought it should be there, but they didn’t like the smell. We can send a man to the moon; we could have done something about the smell. I thought after all those years; they could have put something back where it belongs.

    A: I agree.

    A: You have thousands of customers. Anyone stick out?
    M: Probably the craziest person was John Belushi. When he was in town, he was a regular. When he was making the Blues Brothers, he was thinking of doing a skit about the lemonade stand. He’d already done “cheeseburger, cheeseburger”. He even came in once and sliced lemons. Jesse Jackson is a good customer. He’s a friend of ours, when he’s in town during summer he’s here all the time.

    A lot of celebrities come… but they’re not the people that made my business. It’s the guy that comes every year for twenty years. I’m grateful celebrities come, but you’ll never see their pictures on my wall.

    A: I recall a “Mario’s is a nuisance story”. If I’m not mistaken, a certain individual didn’t care for the honorary name plaque here on Taylor Street honoring your father.
    M: There are certain factions. Politicians, lobbyists. People that want the stand closed and torn down.

    A: And they are?
    I’d rather not. We’re still in court with them and there’s a lot I really can’t say.

    A: I could just imagine the backlash in the city and the public support you’d have. There would be so many people rallying to your side. It’s hard to believe there’s someone that considers you a nuisance.
    M: They think we’re a nuisance blocking the sidewalk and an eyesore, and they want to tear us down. But we’re fighting and we’re going about it the right way and hopefully we’ll continue here, but I will tell you this. If they are going to tear me down, I will lay down in front of the lemonade stand. They’re going to have to run me over.

    You have to remember, when I was a little boy, I built this lemonade stand with my dad. I went in all the alleys and picked up junk wood. The windows were built by my Uncle and Grandfather in the garage out back with garbage wood that they’d take the nails out of. Sand it, paint it.

    A week before my dad passed away, I was telling him I’d like to make the walls out of brick. You know, put a different type of roof on it and he told me, “Leave the front alone. Don’t touch it.” That’s why I haven’t. We paint it every year. As long as I’m here it’s going to look like this. Out of respect to him, I don’t want to change the stand. I don’t want to go inside.

    A: That’s a beautiful sentiment. There’s very few family owned operations that are putting out the same high quality products for years on end. I can’t think of the last thing that’s made me that happy for $4.
    M: And that’s legal (laughs).

    A: What do you think will happen down the line?
    M: I know my kids are always talking about franchising; I want no part of it. I’m not going to stop them from doing what they want to do; they may want to take over the business. I want them to do what they want to do. They’re all in school; they all do good in school, my son’s in college now. He’s into entrepreneurship.

    A: Like his grandfather.
    M: My dad, right. He didn’t go to college but he was the smartest guy I ever knew and he was my best friend. He passed away making lemonade. He wasn’t sick, he just died one day making lemonade. He had an aneurism. We had the street named for him. I named my children Mario; they use their middle names. I didn’t know which one might take over the business and I didn’t want the name to ever change.

    A: I remember your dad as being a very gentle, humble, hardworking man. Classic immigrant work ethic. He came to America to make something of himself and he didn’t mind what it took to accomplish that. You don’t see that too much anymore.
    M: I’ve never seen a person with the drive and determination… and not stepping on anybody’s feet. He became successful without hurting anybody.

    A: You once told me about an offer at Lenny d’Vinci airport from Alitalia in Rome, to open up a Mario’s in their concourse.
    M: They approached me a couple times to open up a lemonade stand. They wanted to give me a lot of money to go there and operate a stand. You know, I don’t fly, so I’m not going to go there.

    This is my 54th year selling lemonade. I’m tired. I can suck it up for four months a year here, but if I were to have to go do another business in another country? No. I just don’t want to franchise.

    A: I know I speak for multitudes of Chicagoans when I say they’d rather not face a summer without Mario’s. That’s how big a part you play in peoples lives.
    M: I tell my wife Maria that. If something happens to me, you can’t close. I don’t want them to close. I don’t want them to think that the stand revolves around me. I would die a happy man knowing that I taught everybody very well and that it would go on without me. Like it went on without my dad. When he passed away, we were strong and we got even stronger and busier..

    My dad taught me something everyday. So when something did happen I was ready. I didn’t have to ask any questions. I worked side by side with him for 40 some years. I learned by his side. That’s a great thing to do for your kids.

    A: Make them self -sufficient and prepare them for the world.
    M: Yeah. I can’t hold their hands forever. I want them to be happy though. If they want to do something else, I’ll squeeze the lemons again.

    A: Is there any significance to what day you close? I remember you used to be open until October.
    M: When my dad was still alive, we would go into October, always. He and my mother would go back and forth. She’d say it’s slow, there’s not enough business. My dad would say, well there’s still people that want lemonade and we’d go into October.

    After my dad passed away, we stopped going into October. He died September 15th 1984 and that became the day. We always close on the first Sunday after the 15th of September.

    A: Is there something you want to mention, something we haven’t covered?
    M: You know, I don’t have a phone for the business. I don’t own a cell phone or a computer. I’m just always amazed that wherever I go, people recognize me. Some even want an autograph. I’m always so thankful for the customers waiting in line. I’m just grateful.

    A: There’s a spirit here. You can go to any business school and they teach you numbers and applications, but they can’t teach you that spirit.
    M: Listen, I don’t like golf. I don’t like skiing or boats. If I did, we probably wouldn’t be here now. But I like this. I’d rather be here. I tell my people, don’t make it how you would make it, make it how I would make it. You’re “me” in here. Just make the customer happy. I don’t want to know who’s right or who’s wrong, just make them happy.

    You need moxie, experience… whiskers. It can take years to get a customer; it only takes a minute to lose them.

    A: It’s not a democracy, at best it’s a benevolent dictatorship.
    M: Right, it’s my reputation at stake. It’s my name on the sign. I still sweep the street. I always dream that my dad’s going to come back and take a look at all the work that I’ve done… that’s why I’m fussy about every thing.

    Image
    Mario and me

    * Florence Scala was schooled at Hull House and became an outspoken community activist. Known as a “fearless conscience of the neighborhood”, she was noted for her opposition to the construction of the University of Illinois Circle Campus, which destroyed her Near West Side neighborhood. She organized rallies to fight Mayor Daley Sr. but felt most betrayed by the board of directors “the good people” of Hull House, who eventually sided with the city. In later years, she ran for alderman and had her home firebombed for her efforts. She also owned and operated the seminal restaurant “Florence’s” on Taylor Street. For more information on Florence Scala in her own words, there’s a wonderful interview with her in the book “Division Street” by Studs Terkel.

    ** Skip regrets not saving any press or pictures over the years. If any readers have anything of that nature and would like to share it with Skip, you may contact me at Jazzfood@earthlink.net and I will see that he gets it.
    Last edited by Jazzfood on October 29th, 2007, 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #2 - October 29th, 2007, 9:02 am
    Post #2 - October 29th, 2007, 9:02 am Post #2 - October 29th, 2007, 9:02 am
    I've been buying ice from Mario's since I lived on Taylor St. in the late 1960's and this is the first time I understood "the rest of the story." Thanks for providing the interview, excellent work!
  • Post #3 - October 29th, 2007, 9:21 am
    Post #3 - October 29th, 2007, 9:21 am Post #3 - October 29th, 2007, 9:21 am
    3 words: Tour de force! What a great interview and a great story.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #4 - October 31st, 2007, 8:43 pm
    Post #4 - October 31st, 2007, 8:43 pm Post #4 - October 31st, 2007, 8:43 pm
    Thank you so much for this. It made my day. Incredibly good work.
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    www.hungrymag.com - All Things Tasty
  • Post #5 - October 31st, 2007, 9:12 pm
    Post #5 - October 31st, 2007, 9:12 pm Post #5 - October 31st, 2007, 9:12 pm
    Jazzfood, what a work, my friend. Your history with the place, the man, and the changing neighborhood are what make your questions so pointed and capable of eliciting such responses. I’m not sure who else could have done this interview; you got some extraordinary stuff; a few lines that will stick with me are:

    “God put me here to sell lemonade and to live here. This is where I’m going to die.”

    “I think one of the greatest things a parent can teach their children, is to live without them.”

    “It’s my name on the sign. I still sweep the street. I always dream that my dad’s going to come back and take a look at all the work that I’ve done.”

    One of the great all-time posts that supports a comment MikeG made long ago: "They [i.e., the people who make the food] are always more interesting than us."

    Hammond
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #6 - October 31st, 2007, 9:43 pm
    Post #6 - October 31st, 2007, 9:43 pm Post #6 - October 31st, 2007, 9:43 pm
    Wow! What an absolutely fantastic glimpse of a man and his life. Alan, you've captured something truly amazing here and I'm grateful to you and to Skip for providing us with such a meaningful and personal account. What an inspiration!

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #7 - October 31st, 2007, 10:32 pm
    Post #7 - October 31st, 2007, 10:32 pm Post #7 - October 31st, 2007, 10:32 pm
    While I thank you all, most of all my thanks goes to Skip for allowing me into his life for a great American story. This more than anything I've ever posted, was a labor of love and it was with that spirit that I approached this. I realized after I nominated Mario's for a GNR that there just was not much information, so I just asked the questions that I was curious about and I just wanted to do it right. I've got the full transcript of the interviews and the taped version, if I could figure out a way to post them, I would.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #8 - October 31st, 2007, 11:49 pm
    Post #8 - October 31st, 2007, 11:49 pm Post #8 - October 31st, 2007, 11:49 pm
    Though I am only 32 I have at least 20 years of summer memories at Mario's.

    That place is so awesome I don't think I could get along with someone who didn't appreciate the ice, the monkey nuts, and the history.

    Mario's is an institution and a painful reminder of how much we have lost by rushing forward as a society to put up the latest frozen yogurt stands, the cold slab whatevers, the jamba juices, the Ben and "I'm a sell out" Jerrys.

    At least we still have Mario's
    “Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.”
    George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (1856-1950)
  • Post #9 - November 1st, 2007, 1:26 am
    Post #9 - November 1st, 2007, 1:26 am Post #9 - November 1st, 2007, 1:26 am
    Great interview, Jazzfood. Here's a link to an earlier story.

    Lerner Newspapers, July 2, 1998: For a cool, sweet treat, head to Taylor Street wrote:HOT, HOT, HOT! Who wants anything hot when the weather's like this? My air conditioning's out of order and I've been dreaming of icy Italian lemonade. Fortunately it's a whim easy to satisfy with a trip down to Mario's Italian Lemonade, 1068 W. Taylor St., Chicago. The stand is a Chicago landmark, where, for a buck or two, you can get a frozen, fruit-flavored taste of cool, pure heaven.

    "We still make it the way my father taught me," says owner Mario DiPaolo. "Water, lemons, sugar." He swears by Sunkist lemons and Domino's sugar. "I don't use beet sugar.

    "I go almost every day to South Water Market to look at the fruit. I don't call on the phone." The stand offers about a dozen flavors -- customers wait anxiously for the appearance of peach each year.

    "We just had lemon until the middle '60s," DiPaolo recalls, "then my dad start fooling around with flavors." No matter what flavor it is, they all taste of lemon, since the fruit flavors are all added onto the same lemonade base, complete with rinds and the occasional seed....
  • Post #10 - November 2nd, 2007, 11:50 pm
    Post #10 - November 2nd, 2007, 11:50 pm Post #10 - November 2nd, 2007, 11:50 pm
    For anyone who really wants to get their Mario's on in the dead of winter (honest, it'll be below 60 one of these days), here's an MP3 of Alan's main interview with Skip of Mario's. It runs slightly over an hour and there are a couple of jump cuts due to the nature of the recording, but like the edited interview above, it's a very flavorful slice of Chicago.

    Mario's Italian Ice Podcast

    Image
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  • Post #11 - November 11th, 2007, 9:13 am
    Post #11 - November 11th, 2007, 9:13 am Post #11 - November 11th, 2007, 9:13 am
    Alan Lake/Jazzfood has an interesting, fun to read Chicago centric piece on Gapers Block this week.

    A Hundred Reasons to Come Home
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #12 - November 12th, 2007, 10:35 pm
    Post #12 - November 12th, 2007, 10:35 pm Post #12 - November 12th, 2007, 10:35 pm
    That list put a big smile on my face. Not many (any?) I would disagree with. Like all great writing, especially about my home town, your passion jumps off the page.

    If music be the food of love, play on
    -William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
  • Post #13 - April 30th, 2009, 9:47 pm
    Post #13 - April 30th, 2009, 9:47 pm Post #13 - April 30th, 2009, 9:47 pm
    LTHForum,

    May 1st - Jack Paar's birthday, 121st day of the year and the day Mario's Opens for the season.

    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - May 1st, 2009, 10:16 am
    Post #14 - May 1st, 2009, 10:16 am Post #14 - May 1st, 2009, 10:16 am
    This just made my day....going to go for the Al's-Marios one-two punch later this afternoon.
  • Post #15 - May 1st, 2009, 12:56 pm
    Post #15 - May 1st, 2009, 12:56 pm Post #15 - May 1st, 2009, 12:56 pm
    GWiv, thanks for refreshing this post with your refreshing photo and update. Somehow I never saw Jazzfood's interview with Mario back in 2007. Thanks for enhancing my lunch break. Conversations with Mario stresses three important topics -food, family and service. It's always motivating to read about someone who loves life and who finds joy in daily living.
    Janey

    Know anyone with MS? I'll be riding the Minnesota MS-150 if you want to help.

    http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/ ... fr_id=9641
  • Post #16 - May 1st, 2009, 2:57 pm
    Post #16 - May 1st, 2009, 2:57 pm Post #16 - May 1st, 2009, 2:57 pm
    Had the first of the season Tutti Frutti (xlarge) @ Maria's suggestion. Nice slices of navel orange, green apple, cantaloupe, grapefruit, grapes... Presented them w/the GNR award as well (she promised to put it up this time, we'll see).

    Perfect compliment to the Al's combo dipped, sweet and hot. For some reason, it seemed as if there was a heavier fennel component today. Most excellent. Crisp fries soaked in beef jus/giardinera were superb as well. Also gave them the GNR and the new sticker was up on the door before I finished my lunch.

    I don't care if it's 50 degrees and raining, summer is here.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #17 - May 1st, 2010, 9:36 am
    Post #17 - May 1st, 2010, 9:36 am Post #17 - May 1st, 2010, 9:36 am
    Lest we forget... spring has sprung and it's in a paper cup on Taylor St.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #18 - May 1st, 2010, 11:52 am
    Post #18 - May 1st, 2010, 11:52 am Post #18 - May 1st, 2010, 11:52 am
    A: You’re an iconic Chicago institution. I couldn’t imagine a summer here without you. And it’s not just me. I mean, you look out onto the street from behind the counter and it’s a great equalizer. Everyone standing in line. A cross-section of Chicago from all walks of life from all over the city. Everyone loves Mario’s. To me, Mario’s is synonymous with summer in the city.


    Absolutely. Great interview. Mario's is a true Chicago institution. I fondly remember going here as a kid. Now, living farther away, we make it a point to swing by several times a season.
  • Post #19 - May 23rd, 2010, 7:47 pm
    Post #19 - May 23rd, 2010, 7:47 pm Post #19 - May 23rd, 2010, 7:47 pm
    What a beautiful article. You brought out the essence of who Skip is and how he became that way. Mario's is truly an Icon of what family values, Love, and hard work can achieve. His commitment to the customer is a driving force behind his success also. I truly hope that it can continue for many more years.
  • Post #20 - May 26th, 2010, 6:59 pm
    Post #20 - May 26th, 2010, 6:59 pm Post #20 - May 26th, 2010, 6:59 pm
    great job alan,
    i stopped 2 or 3 weeks ago for a fix.
    8) :mrgreen: nice
    philw bbq cbj for kcbs &M.I.M. carolina pit masters
  • Post #21 - April 30th, 2011, 4:15 pm
    Post #21 - April 30th, 2011, 4:15 pm Post #21 - April 30th, 2011, 4:15 pm
    I'll post this info here to bump this thread. Mario's is open as of now and if you're a fan, after you read this interview, go get some. The DiPalao's are in fine form as always.

    Image
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #22 - April 30th, 2015, 5:45 pm
    Post #22 - April 30th, 2015, 5:45 pm Post #22 - April 30th, 2015, 5:45 pm
    Bumping the thread because, well because they're open again (my 52nd season) and Skip delivers some real gems in this interview.

    Lemon-Pomegrante was excellent today.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #23 - May 1st, 2015, 3:38 pm
    Post #23 - May 1st, 2015, 3:38 pm Post #23 - May 1st, 2015, 3:38 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:Conversations with Mario

    By Alan Lake (Jazzfood)

    Image
    For someone with ice in his blood, this is one warm gentleman.




    Wonderful story. Thank you.
    fine words butter no parsnips
  • Post #24 - April 30th, 2016, 8:04 pm
    Post #24 - April 30th, 2016, 8:04 pm Post #24 - April 30th, 2016, 8:04 pm
    T'is the season. Opened today.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #25 - May 1st, 2017, 8:25 am
    Post #25 - May 1st, 2017, 8:25 am Post #25 - May 1st, 2017, 8:25 am
    T'is the season.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata

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