February 7 – Happy Birthday Louie Lanzi

lou222Today is the birthday of Louie Lanzi, the oldest of Amsterdam’s Lanzi brothers. As the eldest, Lou has been instrumental in expanding the family’s restaurant presence from the neighborhoods of Amsterdam to some of the most popular dining spots on the Great Sacandaga. The story of how he and his brothers built their regional culinary empire is an incredible one but also one this Author has already extensivey addressed in a previous post celebrating his brother Larry’s birthday. So instead of repeating it here, I’d like to instead recognize Louie’s beautiful wife Leslie and their trio of hard-working and talented sons and also share a personal memory of this Mr. Lanzi that will make clear that his amazing success in an incredibly competitive business was not something that might have been predicted from his behavior as a high school student.

I take you back to an early spring morning in the early 1970’s. The place? The library of what was then the Wilbur H. Lynch High School. I was sitting at a table with Louie, young Jim Diamond and a few of our friends. We were making just enough of a disturbance in what was supposed to be a quiet study zone to attract the attention of Mrs. Whipple, who was then the media center specialist. Our goal was to get her annoyed enough with our noisemaking to have her come over to where we were sitting and utter her oft-repeated command, which was “I want this table to leave right now.” Our plan worked to perfection and when she fell into our trap we all stood up together, picked up the table and carried it out of the library and into the Lynch hallway. The response was legendary. I believe we got a standing ovation from our fellow students that morning.

As soon as we got into the hallway with the table, we dropped it and scattered, fully aware that co-principal Palczak was but an intercom call away from rushing to the scene with his detention pad at the ready. We had planned our escape routes well and I ended up sitting with Louie at a crowded cafeteria table, making believe we were eating lunch. That’s when today’s birthday celebrant issued me a foreboding warning.

Lou and the group of young upstanding citizens he hung around with during his teenage years used to have a unique club and club activity. They would purchase large volumes of fruit and produce but instead of eating it, they chose to throw it at moving objects from distant and well concealed launching posts…

I’ve already started work on the second volume of “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays” and Louie Lanzi’s complete story will be featured in it. I will be sharing the complete posts of some of the Volume II birthday celebrants in future issues of the Amsterdam Birthday Blog Newsletter. If you are not yet a newsletter subscriber, you can sign up for free here.

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