Business of the Month 2016
An initiative from the Staten Island SBDC to showcase the success and achievements in result of the hard work and efforts formed from business relationships with our expert advisors
Celebrating 1 Year of Success – 2016 in Review
January: The Stone House
February: HearSay, LLC
March: Unbeaten CrossFit
April:The Crazy Taco & Tequila Bar
May: Flagship Brewery
June: The Tax Doctor
July: Pinnacle Sports Equipment, Inc.
September: Buy The Balls
October: Nunzio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
November: 5050 Skatepark
December: Expedia CruiseshipCenters
Harold Verde established Expedia CruiseShipCenters, a travel agency located on 3285 Richmond Ave, Staten Island, NY 10312 in August of 2015. Harold met with SBDC Business Advisor Joe Muller in October 2015 through the SBDC Feet on the Street Initiative. Expedia CruiseShipCenters is a family father-daughter business, co-operated by Harold’s daughter Nicole Verde. This up and coming business has made a name for itself through their creative initiative in tackling the travel industry on Staten Island and by being active members of the Staten Island business community. The agency has received excellent reviews for its tremendous service.
Harold and Nicole decided to develop a father-daughter business partnership to open a franchise of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Greenridge, Staten Island. Being in such a modernized technological society, where almost everything can be done online, one loses that one-on-one connection as most customer service assistance is done either through the phone or online. Harold and Nicole wanted to bring back a more personal face-to-face customer service experience to help customers book their traveling arrangements while providing the same or even better deals. They had their official ribbon cutting ceremony at their permanent location in February 2016 – a great milestone for such a thriving franchise! On behalf of Expedia, Harold has since been highly involved in prestigious local business organizations such as the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the SI SBDC; though attending seminars and networking events, Expedia has * their branding by offering sponsorships, discounts, and prizes at community events. Harold was recently invited to the semi-annual SBDC Advisory Board meeting in November to provide feedback and insight on local small business developments and economic growth.
The SBDC has helped both Harold and Nicole develop a business plan and stay on top of their marketing and sales endeavors to help their business grow. In addition, the SBDC provided vital information and assistance regarding the importance of developing a disaster recovery plan. Joe has also worked with our NY SBDC Research Network to compile market research information and statistics regarding the traveling industry and a competitive analysis of the local travel agency services.
Harold and Nicole continue to provide phenomenal quality customer service experience to all his clientele through their vibrant travel agency.
“Harold and Nicole are an excellent father-daughter power team bringing a personalized service to the community on booking cruises.” – SI SBDC Business Advisor Joe Muller
“It has been a pleasure working with the team at the SI Small Business Development Center. They have helped and supported us since we have opened. They are extremely involved in all aspects of the community; keeping us up-to-date with the changing times.“ – Harold Verde, Owner of Expedia CruiseShipCenters
To learn more about the SBDC Feet on the Street Initiative and have a Business Advisor come assist you at your location, please contact the SBDC here.
5050 Skatepark, co-founded and co-owned by Angelica Popolano and Edward Pollio, has been a client of the SI SBDC since 2015. SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany has been actively working with the co-owners on various tasks to help grow their community-loved business.
5050 Skatepark is a recreational sports center on Staten Island – and it happens to be NYC’s only indoor skatepark that has opened its doors to everyone looking to adventure into this extreme sport/arena. Angelica and Ed have taken an empty venue in the Stapleton neighborhood and turned it into a dream playground. 5050 is an energetic and vibrant business on Staten Island that has made a name for itself and became a community staple. It is a safe, supervised place where riders of all ages can ride no matter the weather conditions. Some of 5050’s attributes include hosting summer camps, fundraisers, music events, music videos, commercials, community meetings, school trips, and even occasional celebrity guest appearances.
While battling through various hardships, this power team worked together to transform an 8 thousand square foot recreation center that caters to people of all ages and extreme sports. Three months after opening, the business was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy, where 4 feet of water flooded the entire park damaging its venue. SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany has spent numerous sessions with Angelica and Ed discussing a business plan, business strategies in an effort to rebound from the losses caused by the storm, and marketing efforts.
While the importance of this facility is beyond measurable to the members of the community, Angelica and Ed are facing a new challenge with a positive, headstrong attitude by looking to transform a potential venue into a thrilling recreational sports facility and museum for all to enjoy. Watch the video on the sideline to learn about the “past, present, and future” of 5050 directly from Angelica.
“Thank you! George and SBDC has been a great asset to our business. George helped us become a Certified Woman Minority Business and continues to assist us with managing our finances and applying for loans.” – Angelica Popolano, SBDC Client and Co-Owner of 5050 Skatepark
“George has given me the confidence to believe in myself as a business owner. I looked at Millerfield airplane hangar as impossible goal for our business, but he showed us the road to get there.” – Ed Pollio, SBDC Client and Co-Founder of 5050 Skatepark
“50/50 Skatepark is a business that brings valuable commitment to the Staten Island community by offering an important outlet for the youth of the borough. Ed and Angelica provide a safe and responsible environment for their customers while providing an exciting experience in the rapidly changing North Shore.“
– SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany
Robert Whiteaker, owner of Nunzio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, has been a client of SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany since January 2013. Nunzio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant is a family owned and operated pizzeria and Italian restaurant in Staten Island, NY. This business has such an incredible history on Staten Island. Nunzio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant is a business that has been in Mr. Whiteaker’s family for four generations. In 1960, his grandfather Vincent (Jimmy) Coppolla bought it and moved the business to its present location on Staten Island. Nunzio’s has ever since become known for its fresh, homemade pizza to go.
This thriving business has made a name for itself through their inspiring journey of tackling the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy after reopening in December 2012. The business was severely impacted from Superstorm Sandy, which hit the tri-state area in October 2012. After conquering such hardships, this business has continued receiving amazing reviews for both its menu and impeccable service.
The SBDC has helped Robert with financial assistance to help rebuild the business after Superstorm Sandy. SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany has spent numerous sessions with Robert discussing business strategies in an effort to rebound from the losses caused by the storm. The SI SBDC continuously takes trips and orders from our client and friend, Nunzio’s Pizzeria. For two consecutive years, Nunzio’s has partnered up with CSI and the SI SBDC to host MBA Chinese students to have a tour of the facility on their visit to the US to learn about small business developments occurring in New York. Since it’s reopening, Nunzio’s continues to be highly involved in the community and is a true success story.
Robert continues to provide outstanding food and quality customer service experience to all his clients and remains a Grant City culinary landmark.
“It’s a resilient and prospering business that continues to serve and employ Staten Islanders… and its great pizza! Funny thing is in Junior High, I would go get pizza there after basketball practice.”
– SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany
Maria Cosares, owner of Buy The Balls or BTB, has been a client of SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko since October 2015. Buy The Balls is a home based gourmet-catering company in Staten Island, NY. This upcoming business has made a name for itself through their creative initiative in tackling the catering industry on the Island. The catering service has been receiving amazing reviews for both its creative menu and service.
Buy The Balls is a rising gourmet catering service specializing in creating authentic “fast food” products in the shape of balls on top of your traditional rice balls and meatballs. The company caters for any type of event such as parties, gathering, sporting events, and much more. Maria Cosares, known as Mamalou, is a resident of both Brooklyn and Staten Island and is both the creator and owner of BTB. In 2008, Maria came up with the concept of starting her own business; she started serving her home cooked ball specialty dishes by going to ballparks and anywhere sports were played. This gave many a different kind of fast food option, besides your basics, with such quality home cooked flare to it. Indulging in some original dishes that lead to an exceptional taste experience, this home-based entrepreneur provides a catering service for all to enjoy.
The SBDC has helped Maria develop her business plan and stay on top of her marketing and sales endeavors to help her new business grow. In addition, Ed obtained further information from the SBDC Research Network regarding the regulations and methods in packaging and shipping food products both online and in the market. SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko has spent numerous sessions with Maria discussing the food production business, licensing, city and state requirements, and developing a trademark. Upon opening as a home-based company, the SBDC has helped provide guidance in the next steps necessary to maintain the corporate veil and taking her business to the next level. The SBDC has assisted Maria to further develop her marking and social media strategies for positioning her products both in the market and online.
Maria continues to provide outstanding food and quality catering service experience to all her clients and the requests of the community at a first-rate manner.
Try Maria’s famous rice balls. You certainly don’t want to miss out!
“Ed is my go-to guy! Going to the office to see Ed & Dean is like going to a family member in the business. It’s like going to visit Uncle Ed! I walk out of there with a piece of mind, knowing I received the best advice possible. Because I am learning as I go, I feel very confident. Ed gives me honest advice and takes his time to answer all questions accordingly. I’m very appreciative from everything I have gotten from him so far; you all have been very helpful.” – Maria Cosares, Chef & Owner of BTB
“It is a real pleasure working with Maria. She is very focused on her business and is the consummate perfectionist. She is very willing to listen to suggestions and then responds to implement them into her business plan. She is continually striving to further enhance her product offering and bring it to market. Maria certainly exemplifies the characteristics of the emerging successful entrepreneur.”
– SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko
Lee Sang Duck, also known as Doug, is the owner of Hy-Deli located at 1990 Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. Hy-Deli has been in business since October of 1983. Doug has worked with Business Advisor Joseph Bottega at the Staten Island Small Business Development Center since June of 2013. His deli has been a staple in the community for many years and his business survived the impact of Superstorm Sandy.
After Superstorm Sandy nearly destroyed all of his inventory, Doug requested help with Advisor Bottega. Doug has received countless hours of impactful counseling assistance from Bottega, most importantly being assistance in applying for the NYC Small Business Sandy Grant.
(Left Photo, Jan. 2013)
Doug was able to reopen his business in May 2013 and ultimately received the NYC Small Business Sandy Grant in 2015 with the help and guidance from the SBDC. Since then, Doug, along with his original staff of six employees, continue to thrive and serve the needs of the community in excellent fashion. Although Hy-Deli has a very good inventory of fast food, Doug’s most demanded items are cold cuts and groceries.
“Doug takes pride in providing each customer with an excellent customer experience! It is reflected in his loyal customer base.”
– SI SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Bottega
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Thomas Verrengia and Yashen Hsu, owners of Pinnacle Sports Equipment, Inc. are longtime clients of the SI SBDC. They have worked with Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko for seven years. Pinnacle Sports Equipment is located at 3801 Victory Boulevard in Staten Island. It is the exclusive distributor of the premium branded BambooBat and other premium sporting goods products. Now sold internationally, the BamBooBat brand is the bamboo bat of choice. Pinnacle Sports Equipment Inc. offers several lines of the BamBooBat. Various warranty lines assure an excellent value for the money at any price.
Pinnacle markets a unique product which bonds bamboo, native to the Far East, with Baseball, the American Pastime, as both have spread worldwide. The major products which they sell include bamboo and traditional hardwood baseball bats, titanium health products (bracelets and necklaces), table tennis equipment and hockey equipment. They define their market as international, national and regionalized sporting goods chains and individual stores, as well as e-commerce vendors. Their market has been expanding as new products are offered. Consumers currently range from five year old children to seventy year old sports enthusiasts, male and female alike.
The company was founded in 2003 by Thomas M. Verrengia and Dr. Yanshen Hsu, both of whom reside on Staten Island. The partnership that has developed between Dr. Yanshen Hsu and Tom Verrengia is a true example of East meets West to build a successful enterprise. They have combined raw materials native to the Orient and Far Eastern manufacturing processes with American marketing and operational expertise to create a thriving enterprise.
“It has been a great experience to work with the folks at Pinnacle. They are driven to make a difference and they are succeeding.” – SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko
Steven Lombardo, JD, EA, owner of The Tax Doctor, has been a client of SBDC Business Advisor Joe Bottega since September 2013. The Tax Doctor is located in the New Dorp area of Staten Island, New York. Mr. Lombardo has not only been a reliable tax service for all of his clients but he also helps with credit repair and provides advice for small business formations. The Tax Doctor assists with Income Tax preparation and also provides resolutions for issues with the IRS and City/State taxes.
SBDC Business Advisor Joe Bottega originally counseled The Tax Doctor on building a business plan; this counseling experience helped Mr. Lombardo structure his growing business.
Mr. Lombardo is also the chairman of The Greater New Dorp Networking Group. The SI SBDC is able to refer new start-up clients to this networking group to further engage them in the community and help strength their start-up progress. This community networking experience is beneficially to all involved entrepreneurs.
“Steven Lombardo finds a tax and credit cure and solution for all of his clients.” – SBDC Business Advisor Joe Bottega
To learn more about The Tax Doctor, you can visit their website or Facebook.
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James Sykes, co-owner of Flagship Brewery, has been a client of SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko since August 2012. Flagship Brewery is a microbrewery company on Staten Island, NY located at 40 Minthorne Street. This two-year old brewery has made a name for itself through customer dedication including creating special brews for restaurants and clientele, taking the industry to the next level.
The Flagship Brewing Co. has been established on Staten Island as the Tompkinsville brewery. The facility is a modern beer and ale merchant wholesale trade business venue. Since their establishment, this brewery has built ties with numerous bars and restaurants all over NYC, brewed over 140,000 gallons of beer, supplied beers to local supermarkets and independently-owned stores, crafted beers have been served at well-known sport league venues, and even distributed to neighboring markets, in addition to serving as a premier brewery facility.
Flagship Brewery is not just your typical microbrewery as the venue hosts various events and services. These services feature brewery tours, private parties, bottling beer, various social and special events and it even features a beer truck. The brewery continues to provide stellar quality goods and services to all clientele without forgetting to give back to their local community. The business’ catch phrase says “Unforgettable beer, brewed in the Forgotten Borough.”
SI SBDC Business Advisor Piszko has spent many sessions with this long-term client discussing business planning, budgeting and marketing for the location on Staten Island. Now, two years later the company is not only flourishing but also the sales and foot traffic have been successful increasing and continues to excel in the industry. Through our counseling and assistance, the SBDC has been able to help this SI brewery make a positive impact for the Staten Island community. We commend the brewery’s accomplishments for its continuous success as they celebrate their second anniversary!
Co-owners Matthew McGinley, left, and Jay Sykes pose with Head Brewer Patrick Morse
“Flagship has proven that ‘you can make it on Staten Island.’ Great tasting beers and a very successful business!” – SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Edward Piszko
“May 14 is officially Flagship Brewing Co. Day in Staten Island. Borough President James Oddo proclaimed it so. ” (Quote from the SI Advance) In honor of Flagship Day and the 2nd anniversary of this thriving business, the SI SBDC would like to honor their client as the May 2016 Business of the Month.
The Staten Island Advance recently featured Flagship Brewery in an article. Read more here!
For more information on Flagship Brewery, visit their social media channels here.
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For more information on Flagship Brewery, visit their website here.
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Adam Lener, owner of The Crazy Taco & Tequila Bar, has been a client of SI SBDC Business Advisor Joe Muller since January 2015. Adam opened The Crazy Taco & Tequila Bar, a Mexican bar and restaurant located on Elm Park at 238 Morningstar Road, Staten Island NY 10303 in March of 2016. The venue was formally known as the Elm Park Inn. The Crazy Taco & Tequila Bar is a family-friendly Tex-Mex full-service restaurant and bar – popular for it’s South of the Border atmosphere. The restaurant have been receiving remarkable reviews for both its tremendous menu and service.
Adam is no stranger to the restaurant business; he is also known as the owner of thriving Italian cuisine restaurant, Portobello Café located in the South Shore area of Staten Island. Adam continues to provide phenomenal food and quality dining service experience to all his clientele.
The SBDC has helped Adam develop and stay on top of his marketing and sales endeavors to help his new business grow. Additionally, the SBDC provided vital information and assistance regarding the importance of developing a disaster recovery plan. Adam has been able to increase his sales, foot traffic and has created 8 new jobs for our Staten Island community since its grand opening! A lot of progress and success has been achieved over a short period of time.
“Adam Lener is an exquisite quality chief and has showcased this through his Portobello Café restaurant in Great Kills for the last 20 years. Now he has taken his talents to the North Shore area in opening Crazy Taco, which was formerly the Elm Park Inn.” – SI SBDC Business Advisor Joe Muller
For more information on The Crazy Taco & Tequila Bar, visit their Facebook here.
Follow their Instagram @thecrazytacostatenisland to keep up with their promotions and browse their menu specialties!
Check out a recent review from The Staten Island Advance here, when reporter Pam Silvestri went to their Grand Opening.
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Richard Mills, one of the owners of Unbeaten CrossFit, has been a client of SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany since November 2014. Unbeaten CrossFit is a 4,000 sq. ft. CrossFit training facility in Staten Island, NY located at 2271 Hylan Boulevard. This one-year old business on Staten Island has made a name for itself through their customer dedication including a creative initiative in tackling a drug epidemic on Staten Island; taking the CrossFit program to a whole new level.
Unbeaten CrossFit is a training facility on Staten Island. This facility is a second venue for the owners of Bay Ridge CrossFit. It features the “Lost Boro Barbell Club” in addition to serving as a premier high school athlete training facility. Unbeaten CrossFit is not just your typical CrossFit gym hosting regular, varied, and challenging workout classes. The gym also features fitness classes for recovering drug addicts. Unbeaten CrossFit Coach Michael Biserta created and trains free CrossFit classes each week for recovering addicts to attend. His intensions are to be part of helping addicts improve physical and mental health.
SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany has spent sessions with the owners of Unbeaten CrossFit, creating cash flow projections for the prospective new location in Staten Island. This cash flow projection was used to evaluate the project before opening. With George’s assistance, the clients had more confidence in moving forward with the project. The projections were also used to set sales targets for a successful business strategy.
“The experience of their running a CrossFit combined with their initial cash flow projections allowed for an educated decision to move forward with the project despite the difficult financing options available to them. The quality of their service, which is a key component to any successful business, has allowed them to develop a solid customer base.” – SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor George Telmany
For more information on Unbeaten CrossFit, visit their website here.
To learn more about their other location, Bay Ridge CrossFit, visit their website here.
The Staten Island Advance recently highlighted unbeaten CrossFit in an article. Read more here!
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Maryellen Smolka and Nicole Dory, co-owners of HearSay, LLC, have been clients of SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Ed Piszko for the past several years. HearSay has been providing equal communication access services for the deaf, hard of hearing, and learning disability communities since 2008. HearSay’s main office is located at 1041 Victory Blvd, Staten Island NY 10301.
HearSay is a technologically advanced and dynamic company dedicated to providing communication access and auditory information through a continuum of services. This Speech-to-Text service provider creates integral situations tailored to each unique set of needs both onsite and remotely. HearSay LLC offers an array of services and state of the art equipment including their popular Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) platform. This is so their clients may have the ability to communicate their needs and to receive information easily and effectively in all aspects of their lives.
The SI SBDC has helped Maryellen and Nicole develop a marketing platform for their business. The co-owners and staff at HearSay are not only professional but are vibrant, devoted, and enthusiastic individuals passionate about their service to the community.
“They are providing a much needed service to hearing impaired students and those in need of equal
access to information.” – SI SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Ed Piszko
For more information on HearSay, LLC, visit their website here.
Peter Botros, owner of the Stone House, met with SBDC Business Advisor Joe Bottega when he came to the center in November, 2013. The Stone House Restaurant is located in Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island.
The Stone House is a very picturesque and well managed full-service restaurant – popular for private parties, Sunday brunch, and a night out for dinner. The restaurant has been receiving rave reviews for both its excellent menu and service.
The SBDC has helped Peter develop his business plan and stay on top of financial endeavors. A lot of progress and success has been achieved over the past 2+ years!
Our counseling, guidance, and assistance certainly had an impact on his success. Peter has been able to double his sales and has created more than 10 new jobs for our Staten Island community in the past year!
“Peter Botros is not only the proprietor but also a “Hands on Manager” who takes pride in providing quality service to his customers.” – SBDC Business Advisor Joseph Bottega
For more information on The Stone House, visit their website here.
Peter Botros was recently highlighted in an article by the Staten Island Advance. Read more here!