Thanks to Alan Lake for this great piece of nostalgia.
Besides the tree in front of my house dropping little gifts of bloom on my car, there’s another way I can tell spring has sprung. Iconic Italian lemonade stand Mario’s is open for business. The mayor of Taylor Street, Mario “Skippy” DiPaolo, is on site with his lovely wife Maria, overseeing and making sure things are just as Mario Sr. (RIP) would have wanted when the stand opened around 1954.
Skippy remembers, “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 house 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 pounds 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.”
We’re lucky it still is. Over 50 years later, many Chicagoans would have a hard time getting through the summer without him.
Mario’s Italian Lemonade
1068 W. Taylor St.
Open 7 days, 10am-midnight