The best-known of the family’s restaurants, Italian Gardens opened during the height of the Great Depression on September 1, 1933. Bonden and Lipari had borrowed $1,500 from one of their waitresses (“She believed in them,” Carl DiCapo says) and the two original owners were so poor in those days, they shared one pair of good dress shoes. “When one worked out in the front of the restaurant, he wore the shoes and the other one worked in the kitchen,” Carl DiCapo said.
Carl DiCapo’s memories of Italian Gardens and Kansas City are gathered in the beautifully illustrated Italian Gardens: A History of Kansas City Through its Favorite Restaurant, which DiCapo co-wrote with his son John David and local author Frank R. Hayde (The Mafia and the Machine). Signed copies of the book will be available.
In its glory day, the Italian Gardens was a magnet for celebrities, athletes and politicians: it was close to all the downtown hotels and theaters, and the modestly priced Italian cuisine lured in a who’s-who of famous names. “Everyone from Mae West to John Dillinger,” Carl DiCapo tells in this Authentic Illustrated Treat to Read.