From "Brick & Mortar" to Online - Our Chairman of the Board
A Memory in our hearts - The Founder of Lazzaro's Florist and Gift Shoppe - Mama Lena Lazzaro, "The Chairman of the Board". Floral Park, N.Y. 1979
Mama Lena Lazzaro, Our Founder and "Chairman of the Board" Outside Lazzaro's Florist and Gift Shoppe on Mother's Day weekend in Floral Park, N.Y.
She was only known by the staff as "The Chairman of the Board" at Lazzaro's florist and gift shoppes in Floral Park, Mineola and Franklin Square. She never lived long enough to see the other two stores join the company, but her spirit was inside those walls. Her worktable to clean the flowers was a backroom piece of plywood board over a empty rubbermaid trash container. She created it that way. Didn't want anything fancy. She would put that together in the morning arriving to work with me, and take it apart at night. A simple and so very elegant Italian mama that everyone just loved to hug her to death. And she was the boss! When I talked rough to a young teenage male employee, she would immediatley come to his defense and make me apologized . "Respect works both ways Frankie", she once told me. No dough about that. At noon, in the back of our very small first shop, she would bring out all the food, "colazione", and most of the times, there was so much pasta she will serve it to the customers when buying a rose. People flocked from all over the town of Floral Park to try Mama Lena's pasta sauce. Rumors had it that people were saying, "Let's go over to Lazzaro's for lunch!". Leaving her alone for even a few minutes can cause confusion and mayhem, but we all enjoyed the laughter she gave us all. One time, alone in the store, with a staff member in the back listening, a young man walked in and ask Mama Lena, "Do you do Gay Weddings?". Very casually she reply, "Yes young man, all our wedding flowers are very pretty and gay". She had no idea what the customer was talking about. We laughed so hard the staff and I. Or about the time a senior woman came into the store applying for a sales job and brought along her resume of photographs to show my mother during the interview. The woman was a female stripper in a nightclub back in her prime of life, and exposed all her historic events in her resume. My mother gave her the nearest Catholic Church for confession with a Priest. Then there was a time when a very well dress businessman came in on Valentine's Day and sent his wife one rose to be delivered, then he told Mama "and yes, send a dozen roses to my secretary". She switched cards and the address and sent his wife the dozen roses for cheating on her, she quickly assumed. We all knew that her days were numbered, when she became so silent to us all while working in the shop. On Valentine's Day, it took her an hour to clean a couple of roses, something was very wrong with the Chairman. The cancer came, and tormented her beautiful life for four years of suffering and left us all in tears when the news spread that Mama Lena has passed on. For the first time in Lazzaro's 15 years of never closing the store, opening 7 days a week, on the day of her funeral, a simple sign was hung on the window of the main door. "CLOSED TODAY IN HONOR OF MAMA LENA'S FUNERAL, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD IS GONE HOME TO REST FOR ETERNITY WITH GOD IN HEAVEN. RIP Mama. All our broken hearts are with you on this Mother's Day. I love you forever and forever. Frankie
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