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Restaurant Feels Left Out of Taste

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The Taste of Chicago kicks off this morning in Grant Park.

Seventy two local restaurants will be serving up their specialties, but not every vendor who wanted to participate was granted a slot.

Mahmoud Mahmoud, owner of Leo’s Beef on the city’s South Side says, “We sell Italian beef, hot dogs, polishes, gyros. We make our own Italian beef also. It’s homemade.”

He wanted to serve those Chicago favorites at the Taste, but his application was rejected because his business is only carry-out. It may seem arbitrary, but having seats inside is a requirement for restaurants that want to have booths at the Taste. Mahmoud isn’t angry, but says the denial still hurts.

“When they mention Taste of Chicago on the news, I get upset a little bit,” he admits.

The Illinois Restaurant Association, which helps pick the vendors, says there are many requirements for participation and it’s a very tough process. They encourage rejected restaurants to apply next year. That’s something Mahmoud plans to do if he can afford a new location--a location with seats.

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