When Frank and Ann Todora opened the Parkit Market 50 years ago at the corner of Greenville Avenue and University, it was mostly surrounded by pastures. Greenville was a small, two-lane road and what is now Central Expressway was even smaller. There was one lone power line running down Greenville, no stop lights to be seen and there weren't even parking lots.
Back in the day, this small mom-and-pop grocery store carried staples, and Todora ran a meat market in the back. When Tony Todora, son of the owners, enrolled at SMU just down the road, his fellow classmates often asked if his family store had kegs.
Since that time, Parkit Market has become one of the prime places in Dallas to get a keg, offering over 700 varieties, including local and special/limited releases from breweries around the world. This spreadsheet will make your head spin. And for St. Patrick's Day, they have a system to inject green dye into the keg so that all the beer pours green.
"In terms of business, St. Patrick's Day is times twenty of any other day of the year," Tony said. "Customers will be lined up outside the store at 8:00 a.m. when we open the store. Then we'll be rolling kegs out all day with a line of trucks outside re-supplying."
With the Greenville Parade running right in front of the store, along with plenty of pomp and circumstance, they'll have a DJ out front, coveted port-o-potties and a hotdog stand.
And there's an extra reason to celebrate this year: March 17 is original owner Ann Todora's 90th birthday. She's spending her big day parade-side, in the middle of it all. She's already got a hair appointment lined up, and you'll most likely find her serving hot dogs outside as she has in years past.
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All of this almost didn't happen, though. If the St. Patrick's Day parade had been canceled, it obviously would have had a big impact on their little business. But then Mark Cuban pulled out a big badass slam-dunk and saved the day. Grateful and relieved, Tony sent Cuban an email.
"Basically, I wanted to drop him a note to thank him for saving the parade," Tony said. "As an entrepreneur, I'm sure he understands how important the parade is to a small business. I told him we have a keg of green beer for him with his name on it. What's funny is, he sent me back an email in 10 minutes. I was shocked. And he wrote, 'Tony, I know who you are. I used to buy my kegs from you back in the day.'"
The six children of the original owners all help run things now, and there's a certain essence to the store. The small deli in the back serves fresh home-style sandwiches, and for the size of the store, they have a very decent beer and wine collection. They have a liquor store next door if you're looking for something stronger.
It's a good place to hang out and watch the St. Patrick's Day parade, but be sure to track down Mrs. Todora and wish her a happy birthday. Then, take in the entire scene and try to imagine the area surrounded by pastures and wonder how we ever made do without parking lots, stoplights, Jack-in-the Box and Rusty Tacos.