Popular restaurateur hosts end-of-life celebration - WSMV Channel 4

Popular restaurateur hosts end-of-life celebration

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A well-known restaurant owner held an unusual event this week. It was a birthday party and a farewell party for the man who has decided he is ready to die and wants to choose the way he will leave the world.

Mario Ferrari was bigger than life, and he owned restaurants in Nashville for more than 40 years. His signature, Mario's, was the place to see and be seen for celebrities, politicians and judges.

Although cancer is now destroying Ferrari's body, he decided to go out in style.

"He went into a nursing home for nine days, and he begged me to get him out of there. So we brought him home," said his first wife, Gail Chandler.

Last week, Ferrari said "no more" to chemo, radiation and his nursing home. He wanted to come home to die, but he wanted to be with his friends.

"He's been a big part of all of our lives. And there's just a lot of great memories in all of our lives - crazy, wild memories. When we were kids there would be peacocks walking around. A lot of money, a lot of friends and a lot of celebrities," said daughter Robin Chandler.

And Ferrari celebrated in a big way, too. He always loved being with big crowds, noisy crowds and crowds that loved to drink, eat and laugh.

"You see how many people just love him and want to be here for him tonight," Robin Chandler said.

Even his restaurant closed in dramatic fashion back in 2006. Only a big fire could put him out of business.

While he now struggles for words as he suffers an advanced form of brain cancer, the party was all his call. And like all of his parties, it was a good one.

Ferrari called the gathering "la dolce vita" - the sweet life - and so it made sense that he would want one last taste of what he loved the most.

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