Family keeps Del Rio going for 95 years

Dec 05, 2018 260

BY: Donald Liebenson

Del Rio, a near-century-old Highwood dining tradition, was originally inspired by Dolores Del Rio, the dazzlingly beautiful Mexican actress who became Latin America’s first crossover Hollywood star in the 1920s. During that era, when Latin was all the rage, Del Rio, in Highwood, was a dance hall. After a couple of months, the owner sold it to an Italian family that had their own boarding house and restaurant around the corner. “We moved our tiny place into this bigger tiny space,” said Bill Pigati, Del Rio’s third generation owner. It has remained at the same location and in the same family for 95 years.

About the owner: Del Rio under Bill Pigati is a testament to his various interests. First and foremost there is operating the restaurant itself, something his parents initially did not want for him. But he was born to the restaurateur breed. He recalls as a boy getting up at five in the morning to shovel coal into the building’s furnace and cleaning the toilets and bottle chute, a cantilevered contraption under which he might be doused with water and beer by pranking staffers.

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