By John Cropley
The owner of Peter Pause restaurant will reopen the Schenectady landmark on Monday, a week after she said goodbye to the love of her life and business partner.
Amie Phillips said it is the best thing she can do for herself at this point, as the community of regular customers has become a second family since she and Dean Plakas bought the restaurant three years ago.
“I can’t wait to get back in there,” she said Thursday. “It’s just my passion. Those customers that come in are my support system.”
The Nott Street restaurant has been closed since Plakas was found dead there the evening of Dec. 8. Phillips returned to the restaurant Friday to restock the perishable items she’ll need to open at 6 a.m. Monday.
The reopening will be a week to the day after Plakas’ funeral.
There never was a question for Phillips that she’d reopen, once the grief subsided to a manageable level and once the arrangements that needed to be made immediately were complete.
“Dean and I had bought it together three years ago,” she said. “It just became a passion of ours together. It was just understood that it was going to be something we did the rest of our lives.”
An unspoken part of that understanding was that one would go on without the other if it came to that, but of course that would be later in life, not while both were still in their mid-30s. And certainly not three days before their planned Dec. 10 wedding in Lake Placid.
“It was shocking, beyond heartbreaking,” Phillips said. “It was a nightmare come true.”
Police have said Plakas’ death is not considered suspicious, but they won’t know what caused it until tests are complete. Phillips said the cause still has not been determined.
There will be no changes at Peter Pause on Monday, or anytime soon.
“Without his face there, it won’t be the same,” Phillips said, but “there’s absolutely nothing that will change.”
Little or no change is part of the charm of the place, and part of the reason Peter Pause became a local institution in the decades after it was opened in 1958 by Angeline and Prosper Attanasio. (Some say the restaurant name was based on his nickname.)
Phillips and Plakas took over the restaurant in February 2014 from Bruno and Lucy Sacchetti, who’d owned it since 1980. A Daily Gazette restaurant reviewer in 2015 found the eatery largely unchanged from the Sacchetti era — good food at a good price in a friendly and unpretentious atmosphere, open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Working with Plakas, Phillips would float through all the jobs at Peter Pause, wherever she was needed, including cooking. So she’s confident she and the remaining staff can keep it running in the wake of Plakas’ death, with maybe a new hire or some increased hours for a couple of employees.
“It’s definitely something that I can do,” she said. “Possibly, we might get another waitress.”
Aiding in the task of keeping the restaurant going will be a half-century of goodwill and good memories that have spread across the city and beyond its borders, as patrons have moved in and out of the neighborhood. There’s also Dean Plakas’ brothers at Newest Lunch on Albany Street, an even older diner that is equally beloved in its neighborhood.
Phillips said Plakas’ family has offered her any assistance she needs to get Peter Pause back into its steady routine.
With the help of her own family back in Kinderhook, where she and Plakas lived and her two young children go to school, she’ll be back in the restaurant well before dawn Monday morning.
“It’s going to keep me going,” Phillips said.