By Mary Thurwachter
Things are cooking at Mario’s Ocean Avenue, the Italian eatery that opened earlier this year in a location previously occupied by another restaurant, 225.
In August, Mario’s owner Henry Olmino got the Lantana Town Council’s approval to lease a town-owned lot on Third Street for employee parking, adding at least 25 spots to the 44 parking spaces the restaurant already had secured.
And during the council’s Sept. 28 meeting, Olmino persuaded the town to grant a special code exception to expand the restaurant to include a 900-square-foot building behind it — and to get a liquor license. The back building will be used for takeout food.
Some neighboring business owners expressed concerns about parking problems. But Olmino insisted parking would not be a problem.
“Twenty-five of our 44 spaces will be freed up because of the employee parking lot,” he said.
“We run our valet and we keep our cars on our property,” he said. “We never park on the street. That wouldn’t be fair to others.”
Olmino said the takeout service would be curbside and only accessible from the back. The town’s parking code requires two parking spaces for the takeout business.
“225 used the back building for a bar,” he said, “but we’re not just going to use the building for takeout. We’re going to use it as a prep kitchen, which we will use every day.”
Lantana Chamber of Commerce president David Arm said Olmino had done everything he could to comply with the town.
“He’s really livened up that end of Ocean Avenue,” Arm said.
Council member Phil Aridas agreed, saying Mario’s was good for the town. “Thank you for working with us by leasing the lot when others had a chance and didn’t take it.”
During a budget hearing before the Sept. 28 council meeting, the town adopted a 3.24 tax rate, the same rate it has had for 14 years. The combined budget of all funds is $17,144,475. Property values increased by 10.7 percent for a total valuation of $803,027,456.
In other action, the town delayed consideration of a site plan and special exception for Water Tower Commons on the former A.G. Holley property until its Oct. 12 meeting.