Business of the Month 2018
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
January: DJ Got Me Fit
February: Beezy Beez Honey
March: Fork & Grooves
April: Flounder TeaKettle
May: Basil Cucina
June: Scents the Moment
July: Van Duzer Artisan Market
August: DeVille Auto Collision
September: Cheech A’ Cini’s Truckin Trattoria
September: Mark’s Bake Shoppe
October 2018: Mark’s Bake Shoppe
For Mark Intoccia, opening his own bakery was a dream come true. Mark developed his skills and flair for baking while working for a Staten Island German Bake Shoppe when he was only 15 years old. As an apprentice, Mark learned that baking and creating unique baked goods was something he had a passion for. Mark believes that “anything in life you have a passion for, you should follow.” Born and raised in Richmondtown of Staten Island, Mark and his wife Amanda saw their sweet idea come to life in August of 2016 when Mark’s Bake Shoppe officially opened at 3479 Richmond Road.
Mark’s decision to establish German/American bakery stemmed from a desire to offer Staten Islanders different dessert options. Mark believed he could set himself apart from his competition by offering some baked goods which may not be found in a traditional Staten Island bakery. Mark’s offers a wide variety of cookies, cakes, strudels, and breads, while also offering organic and vegan products. Mark’s also specializes in custom cakes and favors for weddings, parties, and holidays. Customers can enjoy fresh brewed coffee, espresso, and cappuccinos while enjoying his desserts in this trendy small shop.
Offering delicious and creative desserts are challenges Mark welcomes; as rewarding as it is to be a small business owner, some challenges do occur which may require professional assistance. Mark and Amanda visited the Staten Island Small Business Development Center in August of 2017 to meet with Certified Business Advisor Joe Bottega. Advisor Bottega learned that his clients needed assistance in marketing their new business, as well as required access to additional funding.
Advisor Bottega advised these entrepreneurs to consider several avenues in accessing capital funding. Together they worked on a business plan, financial projections, and marketing strategies. Mark successfully applied for additional funding and continues to work with Advisor Bottega on cash flow analysis and financial strategies to grow his business.
Mark & Amanda are very active on social media, posting their special menu items and custom cakes on Facebook and Instagram. They have found that using social media offers inexpensive advertising as small business owners to easily connect with the Staten Island community and their customers.
Through social media marketing and networking with the small business community, new avenues of opportunity have opened for these successful entrepreneurs. Mark’s Bake Shoppe’s brownies are now featured in a delicious treat found only in the Shake Shack on Staten Island. By participating in local fundraisers and supporting special causes, including featuring the “Depressed Cake Shop” Pop-Up shop to support mental health services, Mark and Amanda continue to build a proud name for their business. Mark’s Bake Shoppe will be honored on Wednesday, November 7th, by the Staten Island Business Outreach Center (SIBOC) celebrating small business success.
With two years under their belt, Mark’s Bake Shoppe is thriving and Mark’s family has played a significant role in providing continued support.
“Mark promotes Mark’s Bake Shoppe brand every day when he provides customers with an excellent array of fresh baked delicious cookies, donuts and decorative cakes. Mark’s passion and creative baking skills are a reflection of the excellent baked goods he provides for his customers”. – Staten Island SBDC Certified Business Advisor Joseph Bottega
“It’s nice to have a local organization in your corner to help navigate the waters a bit. Especially being a new business owner. Joe and the SBDC team have been a great resource for me.” – Mark Intoccia, Co-Owner of Mark’s Bake Shoppe
September 2018: Cheech A’ Cini’s Truckin Trattoria
Cheech A’ Cini’s is a Staten Island family-owned food truck established in 2016, owned and operated by husband and wife team Frank and Jamie Melisi. Frank is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Jamie is a home-taught chef by her grandmother with a passion for food. The Chef Cheech team work diligently to provide quality food and service to their customers wherever their food truck brings them. They are proud small business owners who took family recipes and created a new twist on street fair style food.
Frank and Jamie first met with Staten Island SBDC Certified Senior Business Advisor Ed Piszko in July 2015 with an interest in opening a mobile food vending truck. They worked through several meetings to review necessary licensing, inspections, and other requirements to start up the one and only Cheech A’ Cini’s Truckin Trattoria. With a helping hand to prepare a business plan and research financing options, their wheels were on the ground in no time. They continue to consult with Advisor Piszko and Marketing Advisor Megan Ernst to discuss challenges, strategies, outreach and networking opportunities, and ways to continue growing their business.
Chef Cheech offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, and often announces limited time specials for their foodie followers. One of their best selling items, Pastacinis, came from an old recipe passed down by Frank’s grandmother to which he added a twist. Pastacinis are made of an assortment of pasta, a variety of Italian cheeses, breaded and fried and served with homemade vodka sauce; they’re also available in a variety of flavors including artichoke, carbonara, and prosciutto.
You can find Cheech A’ Cini’s at their lunch spot weekdays at 1322 Travis Avenue, and around Staten Island and the tri-state area at various events and fundraisers. Their specialty menu is also available for catering private events such as weddings, after parties, business meetings, sporting events, and more.
“Frank and Jamie came to the SBDC focused on starting their own business. The dedication they had then has greatly contributed to their now very successful venture.” – Staten Island Certified Senior Business Advisor Edward Piszko
As quoted in Jamie & Frank’s story, “The support of our local community has led to our business becoming a household name. We are proud to share our love of food and cooking with our community.”
August 2018: DeVille Auto Collision
DeVille Auto Collision is a family owned and operated auto collision body shop on Staten Island. At DeVille Auto Collision, you can drop off your car, schedule car rental arrangements, report insurance claims and even receive a free car insurance photo inspection.
David Fazio, along with his father Charles and wife Tina, operates the DeVille Auto Collision Shop which has been a thriving family owned business since 1962. Throughout the years, the owners have committed to provide quality service to their customers which is a testament to the business longevity. They employ certified technicians to offer the quality collision repairs and service customers have come to know. DeVille Auto Collision has continued to grow over the years as a result of their satisfied customers.
The family also operated a collision shop in Brooklyn, but in 1996 the owners decided to close the Brooklyn location and concentrate on their Staten Island shop where they continue to be a trusted name in the industry.
David Fazio began working with Senior Certified Business Advisor Ed Piszko of the Staten Island Small Business Development Center in 2015. Ed provided financial advisement to help David purchase the building where they have been located for the past 20 years. David is an active SBDC client and continues to work with the Staten Island Small Business Development Center. With questions regarding financing, Ed was always there to help.
DeVille Auto Collision continues to grow and gain further business from the proud customers who in return bring in family and friends.
“David is the consummate professional. His attention to detail is second to none. In addition, he gives back to the community where he operates his business.” – Staten Island SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor Ed Piszko
July 2018: Van Duzer Artisan Market
Jessica Encarnacion is the primary owner of Van Duzer Artisan Market and is living her childhood dream of being an entrepreneur. The creation of the Van Duzer Artisan Market was Jessica’s attempt to offer a creative outlet to artists within the local community and teach her sewing skill, which was lovingly taught to her by her mother. Van Duzer Artisan Market has been designed to be a creative traveling marketplace as well as a pop-up shop. Inside of the Van Duzer Artisan Market, you can expect to find hand sewn goods created by local artisans along with other quality handmade goods, gifts and some unique vintage finds as well.
The Van Duzer Artisan Market features local quality handmade soaps, jewelry, and accessories. They also provide skincare products, vintage clothing, home décor, artwork and stationery. Jessica educates the community by collaborating with local entrepreneurs and artisans to offer various workshops such as sewing lessons, art lessons, poetry writing and more!
Jessica Encarnacion began working with Staten Island SBDC Certified Business Advisor Joseph Bottega in 2017. Throughout their meetings, she was passionate in what she wanted to do. Advisor Bottega has provided ongoing business plan development for Jessica’s Artisan Market. Joe has provided tips, guidance, and review of her marketing activities and strategies as well as the creation of her elevator pitch in promoting her business. Jessica was able to work with Joe to focus on her business expansion strategies and improve her networking skills. She gradually became well known and popular in her local community. Jessica is an active client at the Staten Island SBDC and she continuously strives to make her business bigger and better.
In Jessica’s mission statement she expresses her passion to “Inspire creativity, collaboration and craftsmanship” and it is apparent that she has achieved this so far!
Jessica doesn’t just call The Van Duzer Artisan Market a gift shop or a unity space to do workshops but an incubator for entrepreneurs. As a dedicated entrepreneur, Jessica strives to help others in a nontraditional way which offers her community to express themselves and thrive.
Jessica continues to grow as a successful entrepreneur that supports the local community and provides opportunities for the members of the community to find a way to express themselves.
“Jessica Encarnacion’s popular, creative and collaborative workshops that she successfully promotes for local artisans has made her business a buzz word in her community and throughout the north shore of Staten Island” – Joseph Bottega, Staten Island SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor
“SBDC has been such a tremendous help to VANDAM. From the very beginning my mentor Joe has been phenomenal in supporting our vision , understanding our brand and giving us honest feedback. As well as developing strategies on expanding marketing of our brand into the community. I am grateful to SBDC for what they are doing for entrepreneurs like myself. If you have a Dream, SBDC can help you achieve it!” – Jessca Encarnacion, Founder of Van Duzer Artisan Market
June 2018: Scents the Moment
A local artisan is creating a new level of entrepreneurship on Staten Island. Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo is the owner and founder of Scents the Moment and President of the Vine Vendor Network. Scents the Moment covers all of your bath, body, and candle needs while allowing you to relive a memorable moment.
Formerly known as Bath, Body, Candle Moments, Kristen structured a rebranding of her small business in 2018 to focus on the roots of her mission & vision as an entrepreneur. Kristen’s vision is simple: “Every Moment has a Scent, Every Scent has a Memory: Capture Yours.” Through her products, Kristen provides “life’s moments, perfectly scented.”
Scents the Moment is a small company dedicated to creating hand-crafted natural bath, body, and candle products that have a little bit of attitude. They pride themselves on using the highest quality botanicals and plant-derived oils and waxes. All of their products are vegan and cruelty-free, and they support animal rescue by donating a portion of all sales to Twenty Paws Rescue. They are certified by both Leaping Bunny and PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies programs. Scents the Moment believes in offering transparent labeling with ingredients gifted from nature.
Each product in the Scents the Moment line has a whimsical name that not only makes you think of a particular memory or scenery, but will also transform you to that place with just one inhale. “Sneak a Smooch” lip moisturizer, “It’s the Pits” probiotic natural deodorant, and “Face the Day” sugar facial scrub are just a few examples. The “Coffee Break” and “Afternoon Nap” soaps paired with an “After the Rain” or “Weekend Getaway” candle all look, sound, and smell exactly like you envision it!
Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo began working with Certified Senior Business Advisor Edward Piszko and Marketing Business Advisor Megan Ernst of the Staten Island Small Business Development Center in 2017. Through meetings with the SBDC, Kristen was able to focus on her marketing strategies and grow her connections in the small business community. Kristen is an active client through every step and stumble of her business growth; from tax questions to licensing situations, the SBDC is always available for support and assistance. Kristen served as a guest speaker for the 2017 Evolution of Marketing Seminar to provide marketing insight from a small business owner’s perspective and teach how to effectively promote yourself and build your tribe.
While Scents the Moment can be found at local pop-up markets and events, it is primarily an e-commerce business with customers all over the United States. Kristen keeps her customers engaged primarily through a VIP Facebook Group, where she posts about self-care tips, product specials, and plenty of live “behind the scenes” moments while creating her products.
In addition to her small business, Kristen works tirelessly to support other artisans in the local small business community. In 2017, Kristen created the Vine Vendor Network to connect these entrepreneurs with vending and contract opportunities to showcase their businesses, increase their outreach, and grow their customer base.
Through both the Vine Vendor Network and the Scents the Moment artisan brand, Kristen continues to grow as a successful entrepreneur that supports the local small business community and provides thoughtful, personal service through each handcrafted order.
“Working with the Small Business Development Center of Staten Island was one of the wisest business decisions I have ever made. Everyone in the office, especially Megan and Edward, goes above and beyond for each of their clients. Every question I ever had, any crazy idea I wanted to try, the SBDC was there to guide and mentor me to make the best decisions to grow and expand my business. The SBDC is more than a team of professional small business consultants, they become some of your greatest cheerleaders driving and supporting your success.” – Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo, Owner and Founder of Scents the Moment
“It has been a pleasure to watch Kristen’s ideas come to life through her creative products and interactive marketing strategies. Kristen is a hardworking, dedicated entrepreneur with a passion for helping her customers and supporting local artisans. I’m always impressed with what she comes up with next!” – Staten Island SBDC Marketing Business Advisor Megan Ernst
Read more about the Kristen’s entrepreneurial success in the Staten Island Advance!
To learn more about Scents the Moment’s products, story, and blog, visit their website and follow them on social media.
May 2018: Basil Cucina
Basil Cucina is not your typical Italian eatery on Staten Island, a new addition to the restaurant scene which opened in April 2018. With a full menu covering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will find Italian favorites, healthy options, as well as some zesty tex mex dishes. Since their recent grand opening, located at 1686 Forest Avenue, Basil has been receiving positive reviews from many of its customers.
Joe Alayon and Tony Marzook, co-owners of Basil Cucina, developed a mission statement to “have every customer who eats here be excited to come back and have a craving for not only our food, but for the unique experience of warm, sincere, professional service that makes our restaurant feel like home.” …and that is exactly what they have been achieving so far!
Prior to embarking on the road to entrepreneurship, Joe Alayon had experience working for a reputable Staten Island Deli for several years. Joe came to the Staten Island SBDC back in July 2017 and met with Certified Senior Business Advisor George Telmany for business counseling. Joe explained to George that he was considering opening a small eatery which offered a grab and go concept as well as catering.
After a year of working closely with Advisor Telmany, who counseled Joe on the importance of a business plan, he determined the costs of a location, equipment and cash flow to get started as well as brand awareness and marketing strategies.
Basil’s motto is “We cater all events, big to small, and have something on the menu for everyone. We cook so you don’t have to!” Since Basil’s recent opening, many customers have enjoyed items from the menu which are unique and savory. There is also a “Specialty Pies” menu for pizza pies with a different flair. One pie in particular known as the “Sunrise” is topped with roasted butternut squash, béchamel gorgonzola, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, roasted jalapenos, honey and stracciatella. The varied menu items are sure to please pizza lovers, the vegetarian, the carnivore and the health minded customers.
Besides the delicious food, the atmosphere at Basil Cucina is very welcoming and it is apparent in the warm décor and open kitchen floor plan.
To learn more about Basil Cucina & Catering, visit their website and follow them on social media.
“Doing the cash flow projections with the SBDC helped us build the foundation to our business plan”. – Joe Alayon, Co-Owner of Basil Cucina
“Experience plays a large role when going into business. Joe and Tony benefitted from years of industry and local knowledge to create a winning formula at Basil Cucina.” – Staten Island SBDC Certified Senior Business Advisor George Telmany
What some recent customers are saying about Basil:
“I got a meal from Basil Cucina yesterday and I couldn’t be happier. Not only was the food absolutely delicious, (that sauce!), but the portion was very generous. Friendly staff made the entire experience extremely enjoyable. I highly recommend it.” – John M
“Basil’s thin crust pizza was mouth watering with a very tasty tomato sauce, minimal amount of cheese and loved the fresh basil! My new go to place for thin crust pizza!” – Angela C.
April 2018: Flounder TeaKettle
Flounder TeaKettle is a children’s fictional book written by local Staten Islander James Napolitano and Illustrated by Natasha Fishman. This book will transport you back to a simpler time of childhood adventures with a trusty canine companion!
James Napolitano, Author, has been working with Staten Island SBDC Certified Senior Business Advisor Edward Piszko since June 2016.
Flounder TeaKettle is the 4th children’s fictional book written by James Napolitano, which was inspired by his daughter Amy Rose.
When James came to the Staten Island SBDC office, he was in the midst of writing Flounder TeaKettle. James collaborated with Advisor Piszko on several occasions to discuss illustration ideas, publishing resources and creative marketing tactics.
Flounder TeaKettle was published in late November 2016 and is an inspiring and enthralling story of a twelve-year-old boy named Flounder, his seven-year-old sister named Bantam, and his beloved dog called Answer.
Flounder is a relatively good child who just gets confused now and then about how to deal with his family and life. Flounder’s dog Answer is his best friend, family dog and confidante who has a unique trait…he can talk! This is a blessing for Flounder who loves to seek out Answer’s advice. Answer is also very wise and always seems to provide just the right sort of advice that Flounder needs. Whether it is how to deal with his headstrong little sister, or his parents requests, he knows he can count on Answer for guidance and companionship.
Author James Napolitano says that “Flounder TeaKettle is a book about a simpler time and place.” The story portrays a time when life was not so complicated, cluttered or rushed! It is when people moved at a slower pace and could take life in stride. The absence of cell phones, video games and other technology offer timeless stories about enduring themes and childhood adventures! Good old fashioned values and storytelling are the platform for this children’s tale. Flounder TeaKettle is not only an enjoyable read for children of all ages, but it can also stimulate and enrich your child’s vocabulary.
James’ lifelong dreams and passions were to write fictional children’s stories and through the assistance of the Staten Island SBDC office, another dream has come true!
“James is keenly devoted to his writing. We have worked together over the past several years from the time he was finishing the book to having it published and now on bookshelves (and the internet!). He is motivated to provide his readers with an enjoyable reading experience plus an opportunity to build their vocabulary.” – Staten Island SBDC Certified Senior Business Advisor Edward Piszko
Flounder TeaKettle is available in local bookstores and on Amazon.com.
March 2018: Fork & Grooves
Fork & Grooves is Staten Island’s only Caribbean quick service restaurant, offering a variety of specialty empanadas and comfort food lunch specials. Forks and Grooves is located at 95 Stuyvesant Place in the St. George area of Downtown Staten Island.
David Kahn, owner of Fork & Grooves, began working with Staten Island SBDC Business Advisor Joe Bottega in August 2016. David was initially seeking assistance in obtaining additional funding to help open his restaurant. Even though David had some funds of his own, he realized that additional funding would be necessary in order to handle the costs of inventory, administrative and personnel expenses. Before Advisor Bottega worked with David on his options of various financial resources, he emphasized the importance of having a written business plan, as this is a requirement in the loan approval process. As they worked on his business plan, they also reviewed various marketing strategies as to how David will promote and grow his new restaurant.
David saw a need on Staten Island, as there was a lack of Caribbean “fast food” and took a creative approach on filling the market gap and building his menu. Some of the 13 empanadas on the menu include curry chicken, pineapple pork and jerked chicken and can be paired with sides like coconut rice, sweet potato fries and jambalaya.
David successfully held Fork & Groove’s Grand Opening on April 6th, 2017. Fork & Grooves has become a thriving ethnic restaurant which offers excellent comfort food and quick service for patrons who wish to grab a home-style meal to go!
“When there was a challenge, the SBDC was there for me!” – David Kahn, Owner of Fork & Grooves
“David Kahn had a vision and mission to provide quick Caribbean-Latin style soul food to his customers. David’s willingness to create new and savory empanadas and effective customer service, which he prides himself on, have contributed the success of his restaurant for delicious food with quick, friendly, and grab as you go service!” – Joseph Bottega, Staten Island SBDC Business Advisor
Read more about the delicious options at Fork & Grooves from this article by Pam Silvestri of the Staten Island Advance!
To learn more about Fork & Grooves, visit their website and follow them on social media.
February 2018: Beezy Beez Honey
“Without honey bees, we would just have wasps and hornets,” says Huguenot beekeeper Igor Yakolev, owner of Beezy Beez Honey. Beezy Beez Honey is located on an organic farm in Staten Island processing some of the best New York and New Jersey raw honey. Their warehouse on Staten Island produces, packages, and bottles the local raw honey.
Igor Yakolev, owner of Beezy Beez Honey, met with Staten Island Small Business Development Center’s Senior Certified Business Advisor Ed Piszko in July 2016 to discuss ideas for growing and expanding his business. Ed recommended to Igor the need to trademark his name and provided the information to do that. The two also discussed the importance of alternative lenders for equipment and inventory items, namely, jars, lids and labels.
Since inception, Beezy Beez has developed an extensive and unique product line. Igor has successfully grown his business and marketing efforts to the point where his products are available to purchase through Amazon, local food stores such as Met Food and Shoprite, and at local market and vendor events found through the Vine Vendor Network.
Beezy Beez Honey products originate from raw honey extracted and infused to create products such as:
- Creamed honey, Italian infused black truffle honey, pecan honey, bee pollen and much more.
- Skincare products that range from soaps to different balms and face and body creams.
- Honey, cinnamon honey, pain balm, honey infused cookies and honey infused dog treats.
Through marketing, networking, and perfecting his craft, Igor has set up a pure sweet “beezness” for the local community.
Read about Igor & his “beezness” in this recent Staten Island Advance article here!
“I have been in contact with the SBDC for a number of years now regarding my “beezness” and they are an amazing organization that has and continues to help me with many questions regarding my “beezness” and different financial structures I should take.” – Igor Yakolev, Owner of Beezy Beez Honey
“When Igor came in over a year and a half ago, he was looking to take his business to the next level. He has certainly succeeded and is now looking to take it even further. He has diligently worked on his marketing with Megan Ernst and is demonstrating what it is like to be a successful entrepreneur.” – Edward Piszko, Staten Island SBDC Senior Certified Business Advisor
To learn more about Beezy Beez Honey, future workshops, and how to host your own beehive, visit their website and follow them on social media.
January 2018: DJ Got Me Fit
DJ Got Me Fit is transforming more than their clients, they’re transforming the image of the boutique fitness industry. DJ Got Me Fit is known for their slogan, “it’s not just a party, it’s a party for your body!” Classes at this studio will blast body fat and tone muscle, while providing a fun, upbeat nightclub atmosphere.
John Lamberti, owner and personal trainer, began meeting with Staten Island SBDC Business Advisor Joe Muller in March of 2015 to open his original location in Willowbrook, Staten Island. John is highly experienced and knowledgeable in this industry, as he graduated from Brooklyn College with a BA in Physical Education and has been a personal trainer for nearly 9 years.
Two years later, John eagerly reconnected with Joe Muller to explore the idea of expanding his thriving business to the Pleasant Plains/Tottenville section of Staten Island. Through visits with the SBDC, John worked with Advisor Muller to write and develop a business plan for DJ Got Me Fit – which is the key component to starting any business. By completing this business plan, Advisor Muller also assisted John by finding various resources, compiling market research, and exploring funding opportunities to grow this established business. DJ Got Me Fit officially hosted their second location’s Grand Opening on January 6th, 2018.
DJ Got Me Fit is now serving clients 7 days a week at both locations – 585 Gannon Avenue North and 245 Richmond Valley Road. Classes here are “not your average fitness class,” with class titles ranging from “DJ Circuit,” “Crunch & Burn,” and “High Low Glow.” John Lamberti and his team are “changing the game” of exercising by transforming the gym atmosphere to combing a nightclub atmosphere with high end group fitness classes and personal training. All of the classes feature the latest DJ remixes of the newest music trends.
DJ Got Me Fit also expanded their offerings to the community by opening up their space to host events. From fun-fit birthday parties for a younger audience to corporate events and team building excursions, John and his team have also hosted paint nights in their fully equipped location including glow light setups, a glow bar, and sound systems.
“John is an ambitious and thriving business owner. Due to the growth of the area and his unique nightclub atmosphere, I believe his second location in Tottenville will do very well.”– Joe Muller, Staten Island SBDC Business Advisor
“They were extremely helpful and no matter what I asked of them, they always went out of their way to find me the answers to my questions. – John Lamberti, Owner of DJ Got Me Fit
To learn more about
working out partying with DJ Got Me Fit, visit their website and follow them on social media.
Check out this article on DJ Got Me Fit from their original opening on SILive.com!