NEAR WEST SIDE — Don’t even mention the word “restaurant” around Mario’s Italian Lemonade owner Mario DiPaolo.
Especially not if you’re trying to rent his commercial space at 1074 W. Taylor St.
DiPaolo, who’s helped run Mario’s Lemonade at 1068 W. Taylor St. since 1954, said he’s too old to deal with the hassle of a restaurant. And, after getting too many calls from would be restaurateurs inquiring about the space, DiPaolo put a big sign in the storefront to clarify his point.
The painted sign states in bold red letters, “No restaurants, no food, no tobacco, no liquor.”
“No tenant is better than a bad tenant. For all the money in the world, I wouldn’t put another bar there. I’m a little fussy,” the 65-year-old DiPaolo said.
The shop’s been empty recently and the lemonade stand man’s just fine with that.
The shop is fully finished and handicap accessible. It was most recently an art supply shop. For years before that, it housed a Pepe's Mexican Restaurant.
DiPaolo, who also lives on the block, said he’d like to see the space turned into a yoga studio or antique shop.
And, while he acknowledged that a restaurant would be ideal along the food-focused Taylor Street, DiPaolo said there was no amount of money that would make him change his mind.
“If you’re going to try to put something other than a restaurant, you may not make it. It’s takes a pretty sharp person who has a vision that no one else has to make it,” he said.