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WHAT'S HAPPENING

NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Paul Roe and Gina Santucci

Written by Rachel Nolte  • June 14, 2017

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Editor’s Note: The Northside Business Partnership is an association comprised of Northside businesses, property owners, and organizations. It serves as an advocate group for the Northside, strengthening the vitality of the business community by connecting, engaging, and promoting its members. NBP is administrated by NEHDA.

 

 

 

 

Paul and Gina are the owners of The James Street Parlour, a new tattoo shop on the Northside of Syracuse. While their shop is new, the history of the building is lengthy, built in 1872 and housing a cabinet maker, a Syracuse city mayor, and a funeral home over the years. Read on to learn more about the current owners and what drew them to this beautiful building.

 

The main room of the James Street Parlour.

The main room of the James Street Parlour.

 

Q: So, the most obvious first question is, how did you end up in Syracuse?

 Paul: Well, Gina, my wife, is from Utica, Rome, Syracuse—

Gina: I went to school here, and this is home. I worked for congress for twenty-something years, and congress is not the same congress as it was when I started (laughter). It wasn’t as fun, and I decided I wanted an early retirement. We had spoken to each other a lot over the years about, “Well, do you want to go back to England eventually?” And, he doesn’t. He wanted to live here. He’s been here . . . 26 years?

Paul: 26 years, yeah.

Gina: So this is home for him too. I didn’t want to live in DC anymore. The people here are friendly. It’s beautiful. I know people complain about the traffic here, but there is no traffic here! There is NO commute. So this was a no-brainer for us, really. I wanted to come.

Paul: It feels a lot like England. It really does.

 

Q: In what way?

Paul: It’s the post-industrial city with giant universities, very much like my hometown. It’s about the same size, the outlying countryside is very similar to England, the climate is really similar to England, not like 110° and 98% humidity in DC.

Gina: Augh, yeah that was another big factor in our decision to move north.

Paul: We literally said every single summer, that’s it. We have to move. We have to move.

Gina: I can’t stand it. You can’t be outside for any length of time! The mosquitos. All of those things.

Paul: We started looking. We went to Little Italy, and looked at buildings there. We had our eye on a building and there was a bidding thing going up on it, so we decided to look at other areas in the city. We looked downtown, we looked on Erie Boulevard, Water Street, there was one in the middle of Hawley-Green, and as we were driving up James Street, our real estate agent said “Have you seen this place?” Yes, yes yes. We saw that one online but it doesn’t look like it’s for sale. He said, “Well actually, it’s for sale. It’s just not listed. Do you want to have a look? Gina, do you want to have a look?”

Gina: I definitely wanted to have a look because I had seen it listed online a couple of times and the history of it attracted me. But also, there were no pictures of the inside. I really wanted to see what was going on in here.

Paul: So we walked in the door, in the back door, and we walked about 25 feet and got into that middle room, and she turns and said “I want this.”

Gina: I did. I did. I stood there and I whispered it actually. I said (whispering) “I want this. I must have this.”

Paul: And that was that. We sold the house in DC.

 

Left: One of the many columns of historic flash tattoos that are on display.  Center: One of two original fireplaces in the main parlor, one for coal burning and one for wood burning. Strangely, the marble mantle had been painted over and the couple had to laboriously remove it.  Right: Even the bathroom has interesting images of various tattoo machines. The eye is never lacking for something to see.

Left: One of the many columns of historic flash tattoos that are on display.
Center: One of two original fireplaces in the main parlor, one for coal burning and one for wood burning. Strangely, the marble mantle had been painted over and the couple had to laboriously remove it.
Right: Even the bathroom has interesting images of various tattoo machines. The eye is never lacking for something to see.

 

Q: Are you fascinated by history because you like tattoos or are they separate things that have happily come together?

 Paul: I’ve always been fascinated with history. English history as a schoolboy is basically two-thousand years of history. When you think about American history, you’re sitting there in school and learning American history—

Gina: Sweetheart, we don’t only learn American history (laughter), just so you know that.

Paul: We have to learn about empire—

Gina: We do too.

Paul: But you skirt over it.

Gina: No we don’t.

Paul: It’s a whole year for it. Just for the Romans.

Gina: Oh stop.

Paul: Just for the Romans.

Gina: We’ve had this conversation. He’s just a little arrogant about his English history, that’s all.

Paul: Of course. I’m an Englishman (laughter). And after we stopped owning the world—I’m interested in pattern recognition. That’s all I do. That’s all I do. It’s a very simple way to learn a style, is to analyze the code that makes that style that style. Tattooing, the line work, the shading, the density, the color spectrum, the composition, they can fall within certain parameters and it looks like old school American. Change two of those parameters and now you’ve got 1910 European. Thinner lines, slightly less black, slightly muted color scheme, Victorian tattooing. Change the lines a little bit, finer, two, three colors, now go Asian. Now you’re into Japanese influence from when Japan opened up in 1950. . . It’s in the code. You just have to read it.

Gina: The world has changed a lot in your field and your craft. Back when you started, everything was oral. Not everything, but quite a lot of it. So, I think that’s where your desire to seek out more information came from.

Paul: I had to go and sit down with the old man and talk to him.

Gina: Exactly. If you wanted to know something, you had to ask.

Paul: I couldn’t read the guy’s Facebook page.

Gina: ‘Cause they don’t do Facebook and also there was no Facebook then!

Paul: If you suggested that he share it with 100,000 strangers, he’d not only throw you out but he’d make sure your legs were broken before he threw you out. That’s completely changed.

 

The Dragon Room featured, like many other parts of the house, beautiful wood details that had been painted over when the couple purchased the property. For instance, where we now see gold trim, somebody had actually painted the lovely wood brown. So the couple has done their best to polish the space and resolve mistakes of the past. In this case, it meant an updated mural and more elegant trim. The overall effect pays homage to tradition but with a twist of Paul’s style.

The Dragon Room featured, like many other parts of the house, beautiful wood details that had been painted over when the couple purchased the property. For instance, where we now see gold trim, somebody had actually painted the lovely wood brown. So the couple has done their best to polish the space and resolve mistakes of the past. In this case, it meant an updated mural and more elegant trim. The overall effect pays homage to tradition but with a twist of Paul’s style.

 

Q: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it of?

 Paul: I was 17. It’s a Japanese bat flying out of the rising sun on my chest and it was a symbol of the Kendo Dojo that I was at when I was a teenager. Swordsman, which is where my whole fascination with Japanese art comes from, and the Bushido and the code of honor, which is very chivalrous and ties into the whole British—you know, a gentleman’s word.

Gina: The fellow who did it—

Paul: —Steve—

Gina: —Steve, you got to work with him.

Paul: I did. It was weird. That was when I was 17, so I started tattooing when I was 30. A couple of years in, I was on the internet! It’s young and fresh and new and we’re using it to contact. A friend of mine that I went to school with, Grace, she was the only other Goth in the school, so we used to hang out together. She was a year younger than me. And she’s married, and she’s got a kid, and she’s working in this tattoo shop. And I’m like, “Wow, it’s crazy ’cause I’m tattooing now. Where are you working?” “Oh, I’m working with Steve.” “You’re working with Steve?” “Yeah, I’m managing his shop.” “Ok then. Um. Can I come and do a guest spot?” She’s like, “Oh he’d love that.” So I went and I worked for 2 weeks. Did a guest spot with him, he tattooed me. I was 7 years in because I got my laurels for a journeyman (At this point, Paul gestured to the tattooed laurels on his arm). So he tattooed me, I tattooed him, but he tattooed me and then he said, “I’ve got some things for you.” So he went downstairs and he brought up two tattoo machine frames. One is a Davis Burchett from 1915 and the other is a 1927 Milton Zies, just the frame. He said, “This is the machine I tattooed you with when you were 17” and gave it to me. I built it up subsequently, I built the whole thing up and I took it back and I was going to give it to him, and he said “No, no no. It’s your machine.”

 

Inside the Dragon Room, there is a cabinet that displays a variety of fascinating tattooing devices. We did not discuss these during my interview, but I’m certain that each of these items has a story behind it.

Inside the Dragon Room, there is a cabinet that displays a variety of fascinating tattooing devices. We did not discuss these during my interview, but I’m certain that each of these items has a story behind it.

 

Q: Where does your interest in tattooing stem from?

 Paul: His shop was around the corner from my school, my high school, and from age 12 to 16, I would press my face up against that glass. I had a paper round and the news agent was three doors down. So I used to throw up at 5 o’clock in the morning on my bicycle. If the news agent had been out drinking the night before, he wasn’t going to be there on time, so I knew I had a few minutes. I would go and literally I would place my face up against the glass and try and see inside and look at the images in the shop, on Burr Street, in the Red Light District.

Gina: Didn’t you also say that one of your uncles had a tattoo that captured your imagination?

Paul:  Uncle Ray. My father was royal Airforce, and the royal Airforce do NOT get tattooed. The army do. My Uncle Ray, his brother, was army. And I remember when I was maybe 6 or 7, he said that one of them was a panther and one of them was an eagle and they were just sort of blurs and smudges, but they fascinated me because they were pictures on Uncle Ray! Why didn’t any of my other uncles have pictures on them? Dad, why don’t you have pictures on you? “’Cause I’m Airforce!” Oh, okay.

It’s always been there. It’s always been everywhere, every person is related to a group of people that tattooed and I find that fascinating. It’s a single bond. We are animals that decorate. That’s it. That’s the only thing that separates us. It’s innately human to do this. It’s been driven out of a lot of cultures politically or religiously, but it’s the basic operation of the human mind. I am me, I can make me prettier! Look, ooh, that’s lovely, I want to do that now! Everybody does it.

 

To learn more about the history of the James Street Parlour building, join NEHDA on its annual historic house tour. Get your tickets here!

Take a Walk Through History: Join Us for the Hawley-Green House Tour!

Written by Lexie Kwiek  • June 13, 2017

Lexie2_for webEditor’s Note: Lexie is a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alum with a master’s degree in Communications & New Media Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently works as the Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator for the Syracuse Northeast Community Center and NEHDA. We’ve asked her to write guest posts for us, taking a deeper look into the Northside, its businesses, organizations, and residents. All of her posts can be found under the “Syracuse Northeast Community Center” and the NEHDA categories.

 

 

This year's event features four never-before-toured buildings, and two that were under construction during the 2016 tour, but have since completed renovations.

This year’s event features four never-before-toured buildings, and two that were under construction during the 2016 tour, but have since completed renovations

The Northeast Hawley Development Association (NEHDA) invites you to explore the neighborhood’s most stunning homes. All tours begin at Quality Inn & Suites Downtown (454 James Street) starting at 10:30 am. Tours depart at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:00 pm. Advance sale tickets are available for $10 online or at the NEHDA offices (101 Gertrude Street, Syracuse 13203).  Day-of tickets are $15, cash only.

Nestled in a triangle bounded by James Street, Lodi Street, and Burnet Avenue, the Hawley-Green Historic District boasts some of the earliest—and finest—residential architecture in Syracuse. This is a real neighborhood defined by central location, desirable density and a sense of community. There is no better way to become acquainted with the charms of this area than to stroll its quaint streets and see inside its restored homes at the Hawley-Green House Tour.

217 Green Street was one of the "works in progress" featured on the 2016 House Tour. This year, guests will be able to see the finished product!

217 Green Street was one of the “works in progress” featured on the 2016 House Tour. This year, guests will be able to see the finished product!

Tours begin at 10:30 am at the Quality Inn & Suites Downtown lobby, located at 454 James Street. Free parking is available in the hotel lot.  This year’s event features four never-before-toured buildings, and two houses that were under construction last year, but have since finished reconstruction. There will also be a bonus stop at Thanos Import Market (105 Green Street), where guests will learn the history of the shop while sampling some of their renowned cheese, olives, and meats.

Along with learning the history of the Hawley-Green neighborhood, guests are also able to see inside of six unique buildings to see what original features still remain.

Along with learning the history of the Hawley-Green neighborhood, guests are also able to see inside of six unique buildings to see what original features still remain.

The entire tour is personally guided with commentary on the history of the houses, neighborhood lore, and current and potential economic development. At various vantage points the tour will see how enlightened investment and visionary restoration are extending the boundaries of Hawley-Green, transforming it into a historic district for the 21st century.

Purchase your ticket here and come learn the stories behind the houses on Saturday, June 17th!

World Refugee Day Events: June 20

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • June 12, 2017

WRD

WHAT: World Refugee Day Community Orientation About Inclusion and the Refugee Experience

WHEN: Tuesday, June 20 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM

WHERE: CNY Philanthropy Center, 431 E. Fayette Street

During this orientation, individuals throughout the community will participate in a presentation and panel discussion to explore “the everyday issues and concerns faced by refugees; the institutions, facilities, and agencies that support New Americans, and the ways that an engaged citizenry can help newcomers to our communities.” The event begins with a conversation addressing “Who are Refugees and Why Receive Them?” from Abdul Saboor, former refugee and Match Grant Coordinator at InterFaithWorks, and our own Dominic Robinson, Vice President of Economic Inclusion at CenterState CEO.

Following the conversation, a panel of service providers for the refugee community will address “What Does it Mean to Effectively Serve Refugees in Syracuse?” featuring Christina Costello, Director of Health Services ay Catholic Charities of Onondaga County; Janet Lenkiewicz, Case Manager at Onondaga County Department of Social Services Economic Security; Jacki Leroy, Director of ENL Services at the Syracuse City School District; Habiba Boru, Job Developer at RISE Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment; and Shelly Tsai, Staff Attorney at Legal Services of CNY.

This event is free, but attendees must register in advance here. For a full description of the event, click here and follow the Facebook event for more information.

 

WHAT: World Refugee Day Celebration: “Come as Strangers, Leave as Friends”

WHEN: Tuesday, June 20 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM

WHERE: Dr. Weeks Elementary School, 710 Hawley Ave.

Celebrate “culture, community, and cuisine” at this family-friendly event, featuring food, entertainment, and a welcoming address from Mayor Stephanie Miner.

You must register for this event here. A donation of at least $1 is required to attend. For more information, follow the Facebook invite.

 

Both World Refugee Day events are brought to you by InterFaith Works, Refugee & Immigrant Self-empowerment (RISE), Providence Services of Syracuse, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, Legal Services of CNY, Volunteers Lawyer Project, and the Onondaga County Bar Association.

Photo Friday: Flamingo on N. Salina Street

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • June 9, 2017

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CYO’S Refugee Youth Program Presents: A Celebration of Refugee Success

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • June 7, 2017

Photo credit: CCOC blog

 

WHAT: Syracuse United: A Celebration of Refugee Success

WHEN: Sunday, June 11 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. — rain or shine

WHERE: Nottingham High School on the Varsity Sports Fields (3100 E. Genesee Street)

The Refugee Youth Program of Catholic Charity’s CYO has organized a family-friendly event this Sunday to celebrate the refugee community and the many cultures in our neighborhoods. This free event features live singing and dancing, comedy performances, arts and crafts for kids, a silent auction, fashion show, displays celebrating the athletic and educational achievements of different students, and more. Ethnic food and henna art will be available for purchase during the event and all proceeds will benefit the CYO.

For more information, visit Catholic Charity’s blog or join the Facebook event.

Photo Friday: Bloom-lined Streets

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • June 2, 2017

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NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Terry Horst

Written by Rachel Nolte  • May 31, 2017

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Editor’s Note: The Northside Business Partnership is an association comprised of Northside businesses, property owners, and organizations. It serves as an advocate group for the Northside, strengthening the vitality of the business community by connecting, engaging, and promoting its members. NBP is administrated by NEHDA.

 

 

 

 

Terry Horst is the Project Developer Partner for the Landscape Architectural firm of Maxian + Horst. Maxian + Horst has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2014. Read on to discover more about the field of landscape architecture—it’s more than just gardens!

 

Maxian + Horst collage

 

Q: For those who are not familiar with the field of landscape architecture, could you give a brief synopsis of the field?

A: Okay, so landscape architects, we see ourselves as an architect of the site. So where an architect would design and build a building, we would design everything outside the building. We do, not just the landscaping part, but the beautification and using plants is an integral part of what we do. We also design the parking spaces and how vehicles and people move through the spaces, around those buildings or parks. We design recreation facilities, athletic fields, we’ve been doing a lot of the green infrastructure of projects in Syracuse under the Onondaga County save the rain program. So we’ve been involved in that and that’s been very exciting for us personally. So anything that’s associated with the site, a landscape architect can do.

 

Q: What first drew you to the field?

A: Oh, that’s a good question. I went to SUNY Morrisville and I majored in natural resources conservation. When I left there, I worked a little bit. But then I was looking through the SUNY ESF catalog because I was interested, a lot of my friends were there, and I saw landscape architecture, and I thought, well this is great! It mixes art and nature, which are two things that I’m very interested in. So I applied there, and I graduated with a BLA (Bachelor of Landscape Architecture) and I started working in Massachusetts, and became licensed in New York.  

 

Q: How did you come back to the area?

A: We were living in the Boston area for a little while, and there was an economic downturn. I’m from Syracuse, so it was a natural place for me to want to come back to, and I really like living here.

 

Q: Has this firm always been at this location?    

A: My partner, Allan Maxian, is partner in owning this building and I think they bought it in the late ‘80s. So this office, even before I became partner, it was Schuman + Maxian, was in this building from the late ‘80s til now. Then yes, they were in other offices downtown before they came here.

 

Q: Is there something about the Northside that lends itself to the Landscape Architecture field or is it more the area of Syracuse?

A: I want to say it’s more the area of Syracuse, because you’ll see that there’s LA firms scattered about. But what we like about this neighborhood is obviously this is a great building and the space is just really nice. It’s just always been a nice place to work.

 

Q: What about Syracuse draws the LAs?

 A: It’s probably having SUNY ESF right here in Syracuse. I think a lot of people stay or come back, so it just kind of lends itself to having a lot of landscape architects in it.

 

Q:  Does Maxian + Horst have any specialties or is it more general landscape architecture?

 A: It is general landscape architecture. We do a little bit of everything. A lot of our work is for architects, so we focus on the site when they’re doing the building. That lends itself to working with school districts and commercial property developments. We also do work for municipalities, like the City of Syracuse, we’ve done a lot of site work for the Parks Department in the development of a lot of their park facilities, athletic fields, and play grounds.

 

Q: Do you have any personal preference?

A: I do like working with the parks department. I think they’re just people that want to promote recreation. It’s a great concept and the work is always a lot of fun. I pretty much like everything that we do. I also like to do Green Infrastructure practices as well, just from the environmental aspect of it because using green infrastructure, taking care of storm water, is very environmental, so I like that as well. And of course, always landscaping, because that’s kind of what everyone thinks that we do—gardens—that’s certainly something else I like to do.

 

Q: Your website says that you have 26 years of experience in developing project packages. What sorts of changes are happening in the field?

 A: In terms of process, I started drawing everything on paper and drafting, so that was a huge change. It’s probably one of the biggest changes in the field, in architecture and in the design fields in general, was having to do that. I still do some things on paper and then it gets put into the computer, just because I was trained to think that way. So that’s a huge impact to the process. I think we still generate a lot of paper, so it hasn’t really saved on the paper aspect. But I think, using the computers and AutoCAD and SketchUp and a lot of the Photoshop programs have really helped the field. For us, the biggest way is just communicating our ideas.  A lot of people have a hard time looking at a plan view and knowing what it’s going to look like after it’s built. So if we can take that and generate something more in a 3-D image, I think people have a better feel for what that would look like. A lot of times, we would do these great designs and we’d build them, and then people would say, ‘That’s not really what I thought it would look like,’ because of that communication gap. It’s really filled that gap a bit so that’s a really positive thing.

Going to ESF, there was always that emphasis on the environment. But not everybody always grasps that. I think that things like green infrastructure, storm water control, and LEED buildings have led to more awareness of our earth and our environment. So I think that’s a really good change, very positive change.

 

Q:  If you could take on any space to design a park in, where would it be and why?

 A: I love the concept of taking vacant lots—and we were involved in some of that—and developing them into usable parks and spaces. Just because in Syracuse and a lot of the other cities like Cleveland and Troy, they have blocks and blocks of vacant property. Instead of saying, ‘Oh that’s so sad,’ you have to look at that and say, ‘That’s a great opportunity.’ I think being able to do that, use vacant lots to develop parks and other usable spaces, would be ideal for me. Just because it’s different. It’s not the big open space, because we’ve done that. Then you end up with these little pieces, and then, gee, can you start connecting them, and what does that look like?

We are actually working in collaboration with the Land Bank and SUNY ESF to develop some of these parks. It’s been a very interesting process because the students will run the community programs and just the ideas that are coming out of it are phenomenal.

 

To learn more about Maxian + Horst, visit their website.

Photo Friday: Rainy Day Reflections

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • May 26, 2017

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A Blogger Searching for a Muse

Written by Joe Russo  • May 25, 2017

Editor’s Note:  Joe Russo is a “Nortsider”, a retired teacher, and an aspiring writer. We’ve asked him to share his stories of the past and offer his perspective on the present and future of our neighborhood. His posts will appear each month under the category, “Old Times on the Northside.”

Joe Childhood Collage

I became a Blogger during the summer of 2012. While attending my usual Friday night Salsa dance, a chance meeting with Emma Voigt led to a conversation about the Northside. Emma was working with Northside UP and arranged a meeting between Dominic Robinson, Stasya Erickson, Jonathan Link-Logan and others. They were all young, energetic and focused on making the Northside a vital and interesting neighborhood. Some of the stories I told that day became blogs published on the Northside UP website. Regular readers of my Blog may remember blogs titled “Community and the Farmers Market”, “Fastest Hands on the Northside” and “The Feast of the Seven Fishes”. I wrote the Blog monthly through the summer of 2015.

The circumstances changed that summer; Northside UP, energized by its success on the Northside and encouraged by CenterState CEO, tried to bring some of their wonderful ideas to other neighborhoods in Syracuse. They moved their office to a more central location downtown. As a writer I struggled. Not because Northside UP had moved or broadened its focus, but because I was questioning the relevancy of my writing.

Everything I wrote was about the past. More than anything it was about my childhood. I enjoyed reliving all those wonderful experiences and writing every blog. I began to think that the Northside I was writing about didn’t exist anymore. I wondered, what is life like today for an eight year old or a ten year old growing up on the Northside? Where do young people on the Northside go after school, for fun or just to hang out?

In my time we had the Northside CYO where one could find everything from checkers to woodshop. The Cozy Retreat was a fun soda fountain style hang out. Where does a teenager get a part-time, after school job today?

Writing my blog this time around I hope to answer some of these questions. I wonder if some of you reading this blog might have a suggestion. Is there someone out there you think I could talk to or an organization I might contact and get up to speed with the Northside youth of today? Please leave a comment on this post and I’ll reach out to you.

NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Thom Madonna

Written by Rachel Nolte  • May 24, 2017

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Editor’s Note: The Northside Business Partnership is an association comprised of Northside businesses, property owners, and organizations. It serves as an advocate group for the Northside, strengthening the vitality of the business community by connecting, engaging, and promoting its members. NBP is administrated by NEHDA.

 

For more information, subscribe to the NBP newsletter by emailing business@nehda.org or visit the NEHDA website here.  

 

 

Attilio's

 

Thom is the general manager for Attilio’s, which is owned by Lou Santaro and Roy Sardo. Attilio’s has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2013 and has been delighting customers with distinct Italian cuisine on the Northside since its opening in 2010.

 

Q: How long have you worked for Attilio’s? How did you get into this line of work?

A: Since we opened, March 9th, 2010. I started [in this line of business] when I was in high school . . . 36 years. Restaurants were always a part time gig, whether it be waiting tables or bartending or something of that nature. And then 9/11 happened, my dad died shortly after, and I thought “life is too short to do things that make you unhappy.” So, that’s when I got into the restaurant business full time. I was with Antonio’s at the time, full time with them. They closed down in 2009 and then I took a tour of Syracuse, at 8 different spots in 9 months. Nothing felt like home. Current owner asked me back, and here I’ve been.

 

Q: Has Attilio’s always been at this location? What do you like about being located on the Northside?

A: Yes. For one, we’re Italian and we’re in Little Italy. For two, this is a unique restaurant with a large history and a good following, regardless of new and old. As far as our banquet facility, it’s unique to Syracuse, I think. It’s one of the nicest, if not the nicest banquet facility . . . The banquet room is exclusively for private functions, so if you have a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding reception or rehearsal dinner, baptism—I do ‘em all. I do it from baptisms on up to funerals, and everything in between. I’ve seen kids take their first steps and done their rehearsal dinners. So, that’s how long I’ve been at this location, is 20 years. Some nice dinners, nice memories, and nice cocktails.

 

Q: Any dislikes?

A: Sometimes the neighborhood gets a little rowdy. But we try to make it work. That’s probably the only downside. I keep telling myself, when you think about Armory Square, for the first 10 years, I think Pastabillities was the only place there, otherwise it was rundown buildings and so on. So I keep telling myself it will be at least that to get off the ground.

 

Q: What dishes would you recommend to a first time Attilio’s diner?

A: Oh, there’s so many. My personal favorite is Veal Saltimbocca. Scallop and Shrimp Veneziana and Chicken Gabrielle are unique to our restaurant. Veal Saltimbocca has just been always a favorite dish of mine. A nice combination of meats and sauces and vegetables served over a bed of spinach, so you kinda get a healthy meal right there in one plate.

 

Attilio's collage

 

Q: Any favorite drinks?

A: When we first opened, we did the WinterFest every year and we won a bunch of awards for those, but they’re changing so often. We make good margaritas, manhattans, martinis, things like that. One of my personal favorite drinks is the Old Fashioned, a Southern Comfort Old Fashioned muddled.

 

Q: If you had to manage a restaurant other than Attilio’s, what kind of restaurant would you manage and why?

A: I don’t think I would. I have always been in this business. It’s in my blood. My grandparents owned restaurants. Skipped my mother’s generation, they didn’t want to have anything to do with it because as kids they had to do pots and pans. So it skipped them and I can’t get enough of it. So I know that I’ll always be in this business in some aspect.

 

Q: What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever had on the menu?

A: Us being an Italian restaurant, we at times throw in dishes with an Asian flair and people are always taken aback by that but they seem to love it. Like an Ahi tuna with a seaweed salad or something like that. There’s other dishes that are not Italian that we’ve done in specials and people absolutely eat them up and love them.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for people interested in getting into the restaurant business?  

A: Just give it your all. If you’re going to do something, do it with your heart, body, and soul. Don’t do it halfheartedly. It’s that simple in my mind. You either want to be in the business and you want to do a good job to make people happy and enjoy their experience every time, or you don’t. If you don’t, don’t get into it. It’s that simple.

 

To learn more about Attilio’s and see their tasty menu, visit their website.

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