A local landmark fell recently. It had been a fixture for years -- before I moved to the eastside 25 years ago -- but I had never been there. A plain cement block building, painted white, with "Salute Ristorante" painted on the trim, it was completely unremarkable. Heck, even the parking lot sign was hand done: a white circle with hand painted letters saying "closed" on it, and attached to a thin chain. A sign that was strangely unnecessary, because the parking lot was always closed.
A friend of mine said that it was her husband's favorite Italian place, and despite his wonderful reviews, and the fact that we drove by it all the time, we never ate there. It was reputedly run by a true Italian who summered in Indianapolis, of all places, and wintered in Italy. My friend said that Vito (yep, that was really his name) cooked and served real Italian food, on a level with nothing else found here locally. She said that you had to pay in cash, and when you did, he would pull a huge roll of bills out of his pocket to make change for you.
Heck, we never even talked about going there, save the one or two conversations I had with my friend about it, so it was funny that last summer, when Thomas and I were driving by there, he mentioned that he half wanted to go there, and the other half of him was sure that he never would. He mentioned that he was curious about this place that had sat there for years with a neon "OPEN" sign on at times -- but rarely with a car in the lot. The kicker was that he didn't want to visit it, because he was sure that it must be a front for the mob, and he didn't want to destroy the picture in his head, which seemingly involved Tony Soprano and a strategically placed juke box. Apparently Thomas wasn't alone in this belief.
The other day, I was in town for something, and I realized that there was construction going on in the building. They're changing it into a gas station, and the only construction guy there happened to be digging a big hole in front, presumably for the gas tanks. I'm sure that's their cover story, but I know better. I'm pretty sure that now we know where Jimmy Hoffa's buried.