Why can't Lyle Goodman, a New York kind of guy who hates this friggin' town, put his signature on 13th Street?
Goodman likes to represent himself as the guy who came to town to make a little money and help Pat DeMone. Some of the ways in which he helps seem dubious. Others reveal what a different world these two hail from.
"There was a guy named Tony," says DeMone, explaining how he avoided the spotlight for decades. "Tony fronted everything I was involved in."
"Ho! Ho! Bad word!" interjects Goodman.
"Bad word, bad word. You said Tony fronted. You mean he represented you, publicly, in your affairs."
"I mean he fronted me," says DeMone. "He was out front."
"Yeah, but front has bad connotations," says Goodman. "Say he represented you."
DeMone shrugs. "Hey, I'm protecting a judge," he says, "who has been--"
"Whoa, whoa," says Goodman. "Protecting--bad word. That's not what you mean."
DeMone rolls his eyes toward the ceiling. "Frank Palumbo Jr., a judge, owns this place."
"No," says Goodman. "He owns the building. You own Signatures."
"He owns the building," says DeMone, "and he has been very good to me about all of this crap. He's taken a lot of heat, but as the owner of this building, he's allowed me to do what I'm trying to do."
DeMone's relationship with the Palumbos goes back almost 40 years, to the late Frank Palumbo Sr.
DeMone mantains a good relationship with Junior, but wants to create a restaurant in the basement that would honor the late Frank Palumbo, who ran Palumbo's, the celebrated South Philly supper club that was destroyed by arson after his death. "I promised him I would make something first-rate out of this," he says.
The idea he may have screwed up by asking Goodman, a man indicted in a mob conspiracy in Atlanta, to help fulfill that promise doesn't occur to him. He also refutes the idea that his inability to lay down a transparent money trail for the LCB played a role in his troubles. What he regrets is announcing his intentions.
"Maybe if I'd have just applied for the expanded license and sat back we wouldn't have been challenged. We'd have put up one of those notices of an application," he says, referring to the blazing orange public notices that announce a liquor license is in the works. "Maybe no one would have taken notice."
This limited soul-searching over, the pair heads downstairs to the proposed restaurant. Sawdust covers the floor and exposed wiring hangs from the ceiling, but the craftsmanship appears first-rate.
An entrance on 13th Street would allow people into the restaurant without passing through Signatures. "This would be great, wouldn't it?" says DeMone.
He lapses into a long silence and lets Goodman talk about the marble on the bar and the wood used in the construction. He stares off into the distance, disengaged from the conversation, and slumps over cases of Sum Poosie energy drink stacked four feet high on the floor, then heaves a heavy, soul-deep sigh, like a man sporting a massive hard-on for years with no place to use it.
PW's Summer Guide 2014