September 20 – Happy Birthday Pattie Lanzi D’Agostino

2pattielIf you were an Amsterdam male, who was born anytime before 1980 and your last name was Lanzi, chances were very good you’d end up in the restaurant business. In fact. the Lanzi surname has become synonymous with success in that industry, beginning with family patriarch Luigi Lanzi and both his sons, Larry and Herm. Now, all five of Larry’s boys have not just continued but actually expanded upon that legacy with their amazing success running restaurants around the Sacandaga Lake in Upstate New York (and very soon again in Amsterdam!).

That same career formula however, does not apply to the female members of the Lanzi clan. In addition to five sons, Larry Lanzi and his wife Antoinette had four daughters and not one of them owns or manages a restaurant. But the two oldest girls, Amy and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Patricia “Pattie” Lanzi D’Agostino, were very successful extending that famous Lanzi hospitality, strong work ethic and good “taste” into a whole other line of business.

The two siblings opened up a clothing and gift boutique called “Chatterbox” back in the early 1970’s, which they quickly grew into one of the most popular apparel destinations for ladies in the greater Amsterdam area. Like their younger brothers who made the bold move of closing their very successful family restaurant on Union Street in Amsterdam to take over a lakeside eatery that had failed, Pattie and Amy opened their store in a former bank building up alongside the Old Big N Plaza on Route 30 at a time when all their competition was still located in downtown Amsterdam. The sisters built their customer base by offering Amsterdam’s female shoppers the latest fashions at affordable prices and as downtown Amsterdam continued to deteriorate, their Route 30 location proved to be a Godsend.

They devoted the next decade to their business. If they weren’t working in the store they’d be going to and from New York City on buying trips. I used to stop at their store often and simply say “I need to buy something for my wife.” and they’d take it from there.

Then both sisters met guys and got married. Pattie’s husband Joe was a native of Saratoga. They lived in a house next to ours’ up on the corner of Market Street and McGibbon Avenue. I’ll never forget when their daughter Antonia (Toni)  was born. Patti had a difficult pregnancy and for a time it did not look like her baby would even survive, but she did and that girl changed Pattie’s life.

A gifted artist herself, Pattie encouraged Toni to get involved in art and then nurtured her instinctive talent. One of their favorite things to do together was sew cloth stuffed ponies together as a winding-down activity just before bedtime. That led to the creation of “Toni’s Ponies,” a line of horse-themed merchandise which they sold through specialty shops in Saratoga, New York and Kentucky.

Then tragically in 2007 Pattie discovered she had pancreatic cancer. She fought the terminal disease with vigor and great courage. The end came in February of 2008. Patti was just 56 years old. Today, Chatterbox still operates in that former bank building up on Route 30 and is one of the oldest businesses in operation on that Miracle Mile. It is still being run by two female members of the Lanzi bloodline. If you get the chance, stop in and tell Amy and Toni you need to buy something nice.

This former Amsterdam attorney was also born on September 20.

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