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Category: NEHDA

NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Thom Madonna

Written by Rachel Nolte  • May 24, 2017

rachel_for-web

 

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.

NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Patrick Strodel and Rebecca Markus

Written by Rachel Nolte  • May 4, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’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.  

 

 

Lead Safe collage

 

Patrick Strodel is the president of Lead Safe LLC and Rebecca Markus is the owner. Lead Safe is a New York State Certified Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) that is dedicated to professional lead testing and consulting. Lead Safe has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2013. Read on to discover more about the link between poverty and child lead poisoning and easy ways for you to keep your family safe.

 Q: What are your positions with Lead Safe?

 Patrick: She’s the owner, and I’m the Operations Coordinator, which is kind of a catch all for whatever needs to be done.

 Q:  How did you come to work for Lead Safe?

 Patrick: I actually started this business back in 2000. Then we decided for professional reasons to change the ownership. It started out as a little Lead Safe DBA, you know, small business, and then we decided to make a Limited Liability Company, Lead Safe LLC, and we decided to have [Rebecca] be the sole member. It helps with a lot of different things, not including protecting assets.

Q: What kind of background do you need to have to go into this type of work?

 Patrick: Well, I started out in the mid ‘80s doing asbestos removal. At that time, it was a really thriving business where it was so new and everybody was sort of freaked out by asbestos that they’d almost throw money at the owners of these companies to get rid of it. I got the training and certification back then to do it. But I quickly realized that that business was not so nice, especially for the workers. You’re in the bowels of buildings, removing pipe insulation and whatever, and not the best work. So I switched from the company that I started with to a different company that did air monitoring and project monitoring and that company had a training school where basically their policy was you could take whatever training courses they had for free. So I just took whatever they had, and lead was one of them. Nobody at the time was really a specialist in lead, so I’m like, that’s perfect for me! At the time, compared to today, there was very little, very few programs in the country for dealing with lead, so I was like a pioneer to find out from the different sources what really needs to be done to control this thing. That’s how it kind of started. I learned to be a lead inspector, then ended up being a trainer.

 Q: Has Lead Safe always been located on the Northside?

 Patrick: We were on Burnet Ave. for a while—

Rebecca: —and then a couple of blocks down the road. We’re both from upstate New York. He grew up in Syracuse, I grew up in Utica.

Patrick: I’m a legacy Northsider though. My father’s family lived here and actually this building was previously the Altman building.

 Q: What about this location keeps the business here?

Rebecca: Well, right here, we’re lead central. This Syracuse area—actually, there’s pockets in New York—Syracuse is a big one, Buffalo is another one, Utica to a smaller extent just because it’s a smaller city, and then down near New York City.

Patrick: There’s clusters of amazingly high instances of childhood lead poisoning.

Rebecca: It’s primarily because the housing stock is so old. It’s been a while since I looked up the statistics, but as of a few years ago, about 75% of the housing stock was built before 1945. You go around here, you go within a one block radius and you’ll see chipping and peeling paint, and lead paint was great, it held up well to mold and moisture so they used it everywhere here. But now it’s deteriorating so it’s becoming a problem.

Patrick: We also see a disproportionately high incidence of childhood lead poisoning in inner city housing with minorities. That’s a couple reasons, she alluded to some of it. The housing stock, those places were built back when Syracuse was the grand city and they were beautiful homes, but they’re not maintained like they were. Also, the people that live there, and I’m painting with a wide brush here, but they’re living in poverty and consequently things like nutrition is not the same as it is elsewhere and so a child’s body that doesn’t have what it needs tends to absorb things like lead much more readily than if you had a full satisfied nutritional diet  . . . The problem is not just a child is sick for a while. It’s a lifetime ailment and the cost to that person and to society—if you take the humanity out of a lifetime of suffering, which of course we wouldn’t do—but if you just looked at it bold, brass, dollars and cents, a child that has this problem is reduced IQ. To the point where they probably won’t finish high school, or if they do, they’re in the very lower echelon of grades. There’s a relationship between the amount of education you have and the amount of income you’re able to generate.  A lot of the kids don’t graduate from high school, they have difficulty finding jobs, or they can’t even keep a job. They still need food and shelter, so where are they going to get that from? Criminal behavior. There’s a direct relationship between childhood lead poisoning and criminal behavior  . . . A significant number end up in the correctional system, and who pays for prison? Taking the humanity out of it and just looking at dollars and cents, this problem is massive and extremely expensive.

 

Lead Safe collage 2

 

Q: Do you have any advice for steps the average person can take to safeguard against lead in their homes, especially considering that many people on the Northside rent and live in older buildings?

Patrick: Because of the lack of information out there, the public thinks, oh well we banned it in 1978. Why are we still talking about it? And it’s because it’s still here!

Rebecca: There’s this disservice of saying, ‘oh well, I don’t eat paint chips. It’s not going to be an issue.’ And actually, usually that’s not the primary way that people are exposed to it. It’s usually a secondary thing. Kids have toys near the windows or on the floor, or there’s lead dust. It gets on their hands, and they go to grab something to eat, they’re not going to wash their hands first, so whatever’s on their hands goes right into their mouths. Or with little, little kids, 2 and younger, everything, hands go into the mouth. And that’s primarily how they’re exposed. It’s not the stereotypical picture of a kid by a wall eating those paint chips.

Patrick: Although some do. But the data shows that more than 90% get it from the dust.

Rebecca: Particularly right now with spring and hopefully we’ll get some warmer weather, people are starting to open up their windows. Good thing to do and particularly for older windows, get a wet paper towel. Wipe that window sill. Have it be a weekly thing. Wipe those windowsills so that paint chips can’t build up on them. Same with the window wells when you open up that window. Take a wet paper towel and wipe that window well, get out those paint chips, and throw it out. Probably the easiest thing you can do. Other things like using Swiffers to clean your floors. Again, you’ve got that wet towel that you’re putting on something like a Swiffer and you can throw it away and that way it’s out of the environment.

Patrick: The important thing is not to reuse it. The reason it’s paper towels and not a sponge is because you’re gonna discard it. Unless you’re going to throw out the sponge, you’re just moving the lead. The sponge will retain some of it. So like, either baby wipes or paper towels, something with moisture that you just wipe across, particularly the window sills and troughs, that’s the main sources. That actually would have a significant impact in the city if people regularly did that.

 Q: What is the importance of using a wet cleaning material?

 Patrick: Lead kind of clings. It’s almost like electrostatic. It likes to stick to the surface, so if you just wipe the surface with a dry towel, some will become airborne and you’ll just move it. It won’t be as effective as picking up the lead from the surface. Even better is to have a little soapy water that will break down that surface tension. But even if it’s just a wet cloth, will go a long way in cleaning up the dust. So definitely wet, not dry, and soapy is better. That’s why I say baby wipes.

 Q: What’s your favorite thing about your job?

 Patrick: Knowing that we make a difference, I think every day, with the children that live here. It’s kind of a weird idea, but we’re actually in business–

Patrick & Rebecca together: —to put ourselves out of business.

Rebecca: It’s a strange irony.

Patrick: I’m sure we could make a living doing something else. So if we actually ever ran out of lead hazards to identify or people to train—but the sad fact is, it’s so extensive, not just in Syracuse but all over the Northeast, and particularly in the Erie Canal cities. There’s so much of this housing stock. In our lifetime, we’re not going to run out of work. Unfortunately. But knowing every day when we’re doing our thing, we’re making a difference.

Rebecca: The ideal is for us to go in to do our job before a child is affected by it, have that lead treated, and have there be no issue. So it’s also kind of ironic because if we do our job well it means that nobody notices. If we don’t do our job well, then there’s going to be trouble down the line.

 

Learn more about Lead Safe and the services it offers on their website: www.leadtesting.net.

A Photographer’s Thoughts on Selfies: NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Duane Sauro

Written by Rachel Nolte  • April 27, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’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.  

 

 

Sauro collage

Meet Duane Sauro, the owner and photographer of a unique portrait and wedding studio, Sauro Photographic Art. Duane’s business is a proud Northside Business Partnership member. Read on to get a professional photographer’s perspective on selfies, advice for aspiring artists, and more.

 Q: Your website says that Sauro Photographic Art is a second generation business. Did you grow up around cameras and photography?

Duane: Yes, I did. In particular, starting with the lab-work, we did a lot of film processing, which is of course an obsolete technology at the moment, but that’s what was normal at the time. Picture taking as well, but I began most of my exposure with lab-work probably around 12 . . .The business was on Salina Street, a little south of the business district back in the 60s. The business was actually started in ’45, right after World War 2, with my dad. As you say, second generation. Then for decades it was right across the street from the newspaper on North Salina Street, then we moved to this location here on Pearl Street in the late 80s.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to go into the arts as a career?

Duane: No, when I was in college, I actually majored in math and philosophy. I always was interested and loved the arts, but I didn’t know for sure at that point in time that I would come into the family business and take it over. I always found the lab-work to be almost magical, the way you see an image appear from nowhere. So when the technology changed into a digital format, although I loved lab-work, it actually was an enticement for me to further my commitment because of the increased creative avenues that were available for digital photography. I was always interested in sculpting, painting, and other art forms, so I always found that photography in its pure form when it was in a film format was more limiting to me than what I really wanted. I found myself often oil painting on top of photographs, doing extensive dark room where you’re using 3, 4, up to 9 different negatives to get a creative result. So when it went to digital, of course, the avenues were much more expedient as well as reusable.

 

Figure 1

“…this actually would have been a very pale looking photograph, in its original inception. But the oil painting on top did several things…I was able to add several elements that weren’t there, I could increase mood by making it more vibrant, I could make it more somber, but also it increased the longevity and stability of the product, which now wouldn’t fade at the rate of a regular color photograph.”
- Duane

 

Q: So you’ve already begun to answer my next question, which is that your aesthetic seems to involve non-traditional post-production techniques. What drew you into this way of working? So it seems like it was in large part due to the change in technology.

Duane: Before the technology actually did change, I was an extensive lecturer on creative portraiture, but often times the avenue that was being used was multi-media. So it was oil paint embellishments that were on top of portrait photography. An example would be this here (figure 1). So this actually would have been a very pale looking photograph, in its original inception. But the oil painting on top did several things. One, I was able to add several elements that weren’t there, I could increase mood by making it more vibrant, I could make it more somber, but also it increased the longevity and stability of the product, which now wouldn’t fade at the rate of a regular color photograph. So the ultraviolet rays would no longer penetrate through the oil paint, the ultraviolet rays being the element that causes photographs to fade over time. As technology became more sophisticated, the longevity of the color photograph certainly did increase gradually over decades. But with the oil paint put on top of the photographs, it was a much greater permanent archival product than what any photography even today is able to accomplish.

 Q: As a photographer, how do you feel about the culture of cell phones and “selfies”?

Duane: Oh, I think it all has its place. I think that all forms of self-expression have their place. People taking pictures with their phones? Selfies? I think it’s great because it shows the animation of the moment and that’s the sole intention of it. But they’re not going to be able to print it and archive it in any way because regardless of what all the places tell you that the high quality, large pixel size cameras are cable of, in my opinion, they typically are not. The quality is mostly intended to be viewed on the screen resolution of that equipment. Once you try to download that and try to make something to put on the wall from it, I doubt that you’re going to have much of the quality that you’re expecting . . . But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a tremendous value to what you said. You’re there at the moment, you’re on a beach somewhere, you’re with a good friend, you’re with a lover, whoever. You want to take pictures to document a moment. It does do that. It does have a value.

 Q: If you could make a portrait of anyone, who would it be and why?

Duane: I think at this point in time, I think I would be interested in a portrait of my dad because he is in a nursing home and approaching some of the emotional struggles with the loss of part of who he is now, and the immediate emotional interest in preserving the way that we used to know him yesterday. But in general, if I was to do a “portrait” outside of this particular emotional moment, it wouldn’t be what you’re asking, it wouldn’t be a rendering necessarily of that person. It would be a rendering of my perception of the sense of that person. It would almost invariably be an exaggeration—it would not be literal. It might be a combination of black and white and color, it might be a combination of images, it might be an elongation of body parts. Because once again, what would have a lasting value to me would be its aesthetic-emotional statement. Not its literal accurate rendering. So, at the moment, Dad. After the moment, probably nobody in terms of what you’re asking.

 Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring creative types and artists?

Duane: I would say that it depends on what you’re looking for the art to give you. If you’re looking for it as merely self-expression or if you’re looking for it as a career. That’s a really very key point. Many people go into careers because they have a love for the art, but more often than not they are completely different realms. If you’re going to make money as a successful business, the likelihood is that you’re going to need to gear your imagery towards what somebody is going to purchase. You’re also going to need to have exposure in a lot of areas that have nothing to do with your self-gratification, if it’s aesthetic. For instance, business sense. So you’re going to need to engage understanding of promoting, of book keeping, of managing people if you’re going to expand. All of those are things that typically the creative type are uninterested in. It has to do with left-brain, right brain. You’re either going to be a qualitative or a quantitative thinker, or feeler, however you want to look at it.

If you’re looking at the arts on the other hand, as merely self-expression, well then it’s an entirely different direction. You don’t need any of those courses in business. What I would say is frequent museums, try to focus on what forms of the diverse art expressions you see that appeal to you the most. Try to answer to yourself, what about that appeals to you? Is it the accuracy of the literal? Or is it the emotional expression of the illustrative? Is it the complexity of the surreal? In some way, you’ve got to ask what’s drawing you to that area.

 

Figure 2

“This is an image that was in a couple of Kodak’s publications and promotings over the years. As you can see, it’s surreal. You don’t really have those tones in a body. It’s also an elongation. You have the emotional statement of protrusion with the face up and above; you’re making a statement that goes beyond the literal.”
- Duane

April Showers Bring May Flowers . . . But Not Without Help from Volunteers!

Written by Lexie Kwiek  • April 17, 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.

 

On Saturday, April 22 the Syracuse Northeast Community Center (SNCC) will be hosting a Community Garden Day to prep for another successful growing season. From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, volunteers will help with spreading wood chips, clearing garden beds, transporting fresh soil, and more. Green thumbs are not required!

 

Spring-Blog-Pic1

 

Located at 716 Hawley Avenue, the SNCC community garden supplies fresh produce to Northside neighbors; whether it is through a home-cooked lunch in our Senior Program, or as fresh veggies distributed through our Basic Needs Pantry. The garden is also the perfect tool to bring community members together. Age, ability, and background don’t matter in the garden – there are jobs for all of our neighbors.

You can register as an individual or as a group for the Community Garden Day by sending me an email at: lkwiek@snccsyr.org.

If getting dirty isn’t your ideal weekend activity, there are still ways that you can support SNCC’s programming. On Friday, April 21, consider doing some spring cleaning of your kitchen cabinets and donating nonperishable food items to SNCC’s pantry. The Basic Needs Pantry distributes over 60,000 meals annually to nearby residents, and is in constant need of canned goods to fill the shelves. SNCC will be collecting nonperishable items on April 21 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, and will also have a collection bin on-site during the Community Garden Day on April 22.

 

Spring-Blog-Pic2

 

Does reading the date April 22 trigger something in your memory? There are multiple Earth Day Cleanups happening throughout the city on that day. In a true collaborative effort, each of the NEHDA organized Clean Up sites will also have a collection bin to support the Basic Needs Pantry at SNCC. Just bring your canned goods to any of the three locations, and the registration table will accept your donation.

 

Spring-Blog-Pic3

 

This year, NEHDA is organizing cleanups at the Hawley-Green triangle, the North Salina Street corridor, and Rose Hill. This event is a great way to enjoy some fresh air while beautifying our city. To register as a volunteer, or for more information, visit NEHDA’s website or contact Rachel at Rachel@nehda.org.

No matter which option you choose, I hope you will join our efforts to get the Northside ready for a healthy and thriving spring!

NEHDA Presents Clean Up ‘Cuse: Northside | April 22 from 10 am – 1 pm

Written by Rachel Nolte  • April 6, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.

Clean up Cuse banner

Syracuse, NY—Every ‘Cuse resident is familiar with the infamous lingering winter. It shapes our city’s culture and affects our daily lives. We have those that embrace the weather and those that resign themselves to constant misery from mid-October until late May. However, pro- or anti-winter folks alike get excited when the days begin to lengthen and the hesitant sun returns. This excitement is with good cause, too. We’ve survived another snowy season and have a few months of heat and growth and maybe even some swimming ahead of us! Ice cream stores re-open, bars and restaurants have outdoor seating, and the whole world seems to come out of hibernation and swarm the public parks.

Sadly, not every part of the springtime is so cheery. As the remnants of the tired yellow, brown, black, and grey snow banks melt away, the horrors underneath are revealed. Bottles, bags, wrappers, newspapers, cigarette butts, tires, Styrofoam—it’s almost enough to make a person long for snow to cover up all the litter! Almost. Fortunately, there’s a better option. Every year, neighborhoods all over Syracuse host litter clean up events on or near Earth Day.

The Northeast Hawley Development Association (NEHDA) is organizing three such events—one in a neighborhood near you! Or so we hope. The meet-up locations are the following:

— In front of the Flat Iron building on 536 N. Salina Street for the N. Salina Street corridor cleanup

— In front of the YWCA on 401 Douglas Street for the Rose Hill cleanup

— In the parking lot of Laci’s Tapas Bar on 304 Hawley Avenue for the Hawley Green triangle cleanup

 If you want to participate or provide donations, please email Rachel (@) nehda.org or call (315) 425-1032. Special thanks to Dunkin’ Donuts and Home Depot for providing donations to make the event a success.

 

TOP 10 REASONS YOU SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN CLEAN UP ‘CUSE: NORTHSIDE

1. Free donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts

Say, that sweetens the deal!

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2. Feeling proud of your community

You can see the tangible difference that you made!

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3. Spending quality time outdoors

When’s the last time you were outside? No, walking from your car into your home doesn’t count.

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4. Everyone can participate: all generations are welcome!

No age limits here.

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5. You can go out for lunch!

You’re already out and you’ve done some good work, so you might as well treat yourself to lunch at a fabulous Northside restaurant. There’s so many delectable options!

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Sandwiches by Thanos Import Market.

 

6. Spend quality time with friends

Come stag and make cool new friends, or bring an old buddy and catch up over clean-up.

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7. Soak in the beauty

The Northside is already beautiful. You get to make it even more beautiful while enjoying the beauty. SO MUCH BEAUTY.

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8. Get the most out of your Saturday

You’re going to get a jump start on the day because you have to be at the Clean Up by 10 am. Then you will be done in the early afternoon with lots of Saturday ahead of you to enjoy! You can spend the rest of the day being productive, or perhaps napping.

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9. Bragging rights

While we hope that you are bringing everyone you know to this event, you can brag to those of your friends who fail to participate.

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10. Spending time with the awesome people that work at NEHDA

We’re so fun to be around that we really are providing you with a free service. Plus, we bring our friends.

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NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Alan Poushter

Written by Rachel Nolte  • March 29, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.

 

 

Ra-Lin collage

 

Alan is the president at Ra-Lin Discount: The Original Discounter! This Northside Business Partnership member is a second generation, family-owned supplier of large appliances, electronics, photography equipment, and much more.

 

Q: How long have you been in Syracuse? How long have you worked at Ra-Lin?

A: First of all, Ra-Lin’s started in 1953. It was started by my father-in-law, Bernie Radin, and his partner Herman Zeitlin. I was born in 1952, so actually just the year before the store opened—born and raised in Syracuse, went to Nottingham. In fact, all the owners went to Nottingham. The owners are my brother-in-law, Lewis Radin, and my wife, Marsha Poushter, but she was Radin obviously before that. We were all born and raised in Syracuse, went to Nottingham. The only time I left was when I went to University of Denver for college. When I started at Ra-Lin, it was 1978, so 39 years. Hard to believe.

 

Q: Ra-Lin has everything from major appliances to home theater speakers to jewelry. How do you provide knowledgeable staff support to customers when you have such a broad range of products?

A: We have specialists in every department. In fact, what you’ll find is even right now, there are two appliance people who just do appliances. There are two people who just do the TVs and stereos. There are two people who do jewelry. There are two people who do small appliances and there are about four of us in camera because we do photo finishing too. And that does not include the sporting goods, by the way. They have their own—there’s like five people that work just in sporting goods. I think what separates us from the competition is our knowledgeable staff. Also I would say most of the staff, believe it or not, have been here over 30 years. Not only are they knowledgeable, but the appliance people have been here 30 years and 40 years, in TV one guy has been here 30, 40 years. Also, whatever department the person is in, the guys are into it. The TV department, the guys are into it. The sporting department, the guys are sportsman and they go off sporting. The camera people shoot photography. Everyone who is in their specialty is also an avid fan. It’s not just a job. It’s their hobby. In a nutshell, that’s who we are and why we’re successful. People know that when they come in here, the person that they’re going to talk to is highly knowledgeable and motivated and into it. It’s not just a job.

 

Q: Have you ever had strange requests for products you don’t carry? Can you think of any examples?

A: Oh, every day. We get a lot of calls for computers because people think we sell computers. Computers and computer accessories. You would think it would go with everything else we sell here—it’s what I call a small big box. We carry pretty much everything a big box store would carry, without the computer stuff.

 

Q: What do you like about being located on the Northside? Dislike?

A: Yes we’re on the Northside, but we’re also almost downtown. We’re also Eastside. We get a lot of customers from DeWitt. Although I am on the Northside and belong to all the groups, I consider myself a centrally located—although, like I said, we’re on the edge of the Northside. We like the location. We’re centrally located and we’re right near the Teal Ave exist and the downtown exit, the Townsend Street exit, and we’re convenient no matter what side of town you’re on. And I think our big advantage over other businesses on the Northside is we have PLENTY of adequate parking.

 

Q: Lately, we’ve had such new technologies as smart phones, 3D TVs, and Blu-ray. Any thoughts about what the next big technology will be?

A: Well, we’re selling some drones. It actually falls into the camera department because all the drones have these high-quality cameras. Most of the drones you see are used for monitoring or looking at things, so it’s photography, video. All of ours are really sold to photographers, who are now getting into it. We’re selling some to business guys, construction guys, who use it instead of getting up on a ladder to look at a roof, or a farmer or real estate people. It’s still a new thing but we’re starting to sell some. What we find is that even though they’re photographers, they’re not good flyers, and we’re having trouble with things crashing. So we’re getting together with the clubs that use model air planes. They came at it more from the flying part and we’re more at it from the picture part, so we’re trying to work with the local model air plane guys.

The other thing we’re selling new are these security cameras. With these new security cameras, you can look at your store or your house on your phone, wherever you are. The security camera is hooked up to your computer through the Wi-Fi, and from your computer to your phone. There, again, we have a specialty guy. He has to come out and look at your house. You could home-install it, but most of the time you would hire someone. And we’re not doing so much individuals with security cameras as small businesses. We did a system for the Canal Museum. People have gone away from alarm systems because you can see it on your phone. Less false alarms.

 

Q: If I could write you a check to buy anything in the store, what would you get and why?

A: I would say the fancy drone or the big TVs. The other thing I would say is, the appliances are getting more sophisticated. You can monitor your refrigerator. That’s the new thing—monitoring of the home appliances. From your phone, you’ll be able to find out what’s in your refrigerator. This is kind of in the future, what they’re talking about. They’re not quite there yet, but you’ll be able to get it from your phone, all this stuff.

 

To learn more about Ra-Lin, visit their website at RaLins.com.

“There’s Your Watermelon!”: NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Linda & Dave Campbell

Written by Rachel Nolte  • March 15, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.

 

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Dave and Linda are owners of Davco Performance Automotive, “The best little repair shop in Syracuse.” Davco has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2012. Read on to discover what drew them to the area, what keeps them here now, and what kind of oddities you might find in someone’s car.

Q: How long has your business been on the Northside?

Linda: We’ve been here since ’99 . . . Both Dave and I were born in Brooklyn. We migrated to Long Island, like every person in Long Island comes from Brooklyn, I think. We started a family there and Dave worked in transmission shops and managing shops and so on. We came very close to owning a couple of shops there, but one thing or another prevented us from doing that. We decided that it was best to relocate somewhere else. So we did our homework and we looked at statistics. We knew we wanted to stay in New York State because we wanted to stay close to the rest of the family. We had small children. We wanted a good school system. So we started looking upstate. At the time, we didn’t have internet back then, so we subscribed to different newspapers in three major cities in upstate New York. We chose to concentrate on Syracuse based on quality of life here. We started looking for business opportunities and houses. That’s what brought us here. We were able to buy a house for half the price of what our house was on Long Island and were able to start a business with the rest of the money.

 

People’s cars can be very personal, like a home on wheels. What are some of the stranger things you’ve seen in people’s cars?

Linda: There was that one time when that lady came in and had work done . . . She calls back a couple of days later and said ever since you worked on my car, every time I step on the break, there’s a clunk. So we said, by all means, bring it in, we’ll take a look at it. See what’s going on. So he road tests it. Sure enough, every time you step on the break, there’s a clunk. There was a watermelon, underneath the seat, the back seat, rolling around the floor.

Dave: When you step on the break, it would roll forward, and BOOM! Clunk right into the front seat. So I picked it up, said there’s your noise! She said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for that! We went to the grocery store the other day, and I thought I bought a watermelon, but then we couldn’t find it!” There’s your watermelon.

 

Q: What’s your favorite Northside place to have a drink (coffee or stronger!)?

Linda: To be honest with you, I do like the restaurants here on the Northside, and I do—well, let me say, we eat at our desks. In a small business, we have to be here all the time. So, I bring my lunch, and we eat our lunch here. We work late. Sometimes we don’t get out of here until 8 o’clock at night and I’m darned tired! I want to go home. So, to answer your question, if I was a woman of leisure, and I didn’t have to work long hours, I’ve always wanted to try Laci’s  . . . For me, to even leave here for an hour, it never fails . . . Something happens when I’m gone and we care very much about our business. In our real world, our favorite place to stop for a drink after work is the Dunkin’ Donuts drive in window on the way home!

 

Q: How do you feel about all the “self-driving car” stuff?

Linda: That would be a question for Dave. He is amazingly technical. When a customer comes in for a repair, has a question, he will explain things in such a way that’s like, how the heck do you know all this stuff? He could build you a rocket ship to the moon . . . Now, I don’t know how to change oil, but I can talk to the customer on their level. I can interpret what he is saying on a highly technical level to a point where the customer can really understand what he’s talking about.

Dave: It has a lot of opportunity to go a lot of different places . . . There’s holes in the algorithms and in the technology that can be very dangerous. We’ve seen that for years, with cars that have throttle control that’s not mechanical control, the gas pedal you step on in your car, if it’s newer than an ’06 or ’07, the gas pedal that you step on probably has no physical connection with the engine. It used to have what’s called an accelerator cable that went from the gas pedal to the throttle body and that controlled the throttle opening on the engine. Nowadays, depending on how hard you’re stepping on the gas, that tells the computer how fast you want the car to go and the computer actuates the throttle motor on the engine and opens and closes the throttle.

You may remember, several years ago, Toyota had a problem where the cars were just taking off out of control, jumping off curbs, people were crashing into stuff because they’d step off the gas and then the car would just keep on going. They tried to figure out what the problem was and sometimes they thought it was a floor mat stuck under the gas pedal, but eventually they changed a lot of accelerator pedal position sensors, which is basically what your accelerator pedal nowadays is. They pretty much worked the problem out but we still see a tremendous amount of accelerator pedals that go bad. Typically when they fail, they fail in what’s called fail safe mode. In other words, you can’t step on the gas, you have reduced tension power, maybe you can limp someplace but you don’t have the power you could because you’ve got checks in the system. Computer sees, even for a fraction of a second, if it sees an anomaly in those voltages it will shut down and reduce the power on it so that if you had to, even if the car took off on you, you’d be able to control it by stepping on the break . . .

So with any new technology like that, there’s a lot of bugs that have to be worked out. In the future? Yeah. Self-driving cars are something that are definitely a wave of the future. Will we see them in my life time, in the next 20 or 30 years, where they are at the level of cars today where we drive ourselves personally? Maybe. But I think a lot of what we’re seeing today is computer augmented, computer assisted driving, and I think that is going to continue to grow. But I don’t think that the actual full, computerized mode of operation where you just sit back and read a book and the car drives you to work is going to happen in the next 20 or 30 years.

 

Q: What’s your dream car?

Linda: I don’t know. I don’t have a dream car! All the cars, to me, look the same. The only reason why I know the difference between a Toyota and a Honda is because I work here! But if I didn’t have the experience of working here, I wouldn’t know one car from another on the road. I still cheat and look at the emblems so I know the difference! The high end cars, the Mercedes and the Audis, knowing what I know because I work here, I wouldn’t want ‘em. I used to love Jaguars, but I don’t like the new Jaguars. I don’t like the way the new Jaguars look. As long as it has heat, and it’s safe.

Dave: I’ve all my share of classic cars. I had a 55-T Bird that just recently sold. We did a complete frame off for my son on his 69-GTO. Started that when he was 11 and finished it when he was 16 so he could take it to his first prom.

Linda: That’s a love story. (Unclear if she meant the car or the prom!)

Dave: That’s still in the family. My son has that. I gave that to him when he graduated college. But, I don’t know, it’s a hard one. There’s a lot of cars out there that I like and enjoy, and there’s all kinds of super cars out there, like McLarens, and Nismos, Ferraris, things like that. But I’m kind of a pick-up truck sort of guy. I’ve evolved from one thing to another, I’ve owned all types of vehicles over the last 50 years or so. I like the Fords, I enjoy, I had a Mustang convertible not too long ago. But at the end of the day? I’m kind of a pick-up truck, motorcycle kind of guy. If I had to pick a car that I said was my ultimate dream car, it would probably be a ’57 Thunderbird, with a turbo in it. They didn’t make many of those and they’re quite expensive. But I enjoy such a broad spectrum of cars.

 

What do you feel is the Northside’s best quality?

Dave: I think that the Northside’s best quality is its diversity. We have such a diverse amount of immigrants, refugees, and perennial Northsiders that have been here for generations. Affordable housing, access to a lot of different options when it comes to access for entertainment and shopping. I think that the Northside has a lot to offer and that’s one of the reasons why the Northside has been targeted by developers . . . When we first came here in the 90s, I really feel that the Northside had the most potential of any area. It’s had its ups and downs, but its’ certainly much better than when we moved here in the late 90s.

Linda: Coming originally from downstate, going to the city was going to New York City. I don’t miss it. Not one bit. Here, the city of Syracuse, has everything New York City has to offer on a much smaller scale. You can go to the theater. You can go to nice restaurants. You can go to festivals. There’s so much that the city has to offer . . .

There’s a lot of historical culture here. We’ve got new immigrants coming in now, not the Germans, not the Italians, but now we’ve got the Vietnamese, the different African countries, and so on. They’re bringing in new things for our future generations to talk about in their culture. It’s a big melting pot here, just like New York City . . . I tell this story so often, because it’s so—it’s engrained in me, and it will be forever. When we first started the business, there was an African man that came in to get his car repaired. He was REAL tall, real tall, real thin. At that time, the office wasn’t here, it was in the garage, and I had a little tiny office in the back of the garage, and while they were fixing his vehicle, he sat in the office and we chatted. Well, I had learned that he was one of the Lost Boys—

Dave: —Lost Boys of the Sudan, to clarify—

Linda: —Of the Sudan, yes. He told me a story about how he and his friend walked thousands of miles through the desert, and he’s been here for about 4 months. In 3 months, he was set up with food, shelter, and a maybe a little bit of money. But in those 3 months, he learned English, he got himself a job, he purchased a vehicle, was paying us to have his car fixed. In three months. And just a couple of years ago, I opened up the Sunday newspaper, there he was, that same man that sat in my office, telling me his story, was featured in the newspaper, that he, with two of his friends who were resettled in Pittsburgh, where they are today. He remained in Syracuse and I believe he still lives here today. Has saved, worked hard. Worked real hard. Contributed to society and saved enough money to build a hospital for other children in the Sudan. It’s just amazing, and it makes me happy to be here in Syracuse.

The documentary that this man, John Dau, was featured in is called “God Grew Tired of Us.” It is available for streaming on Netflix.  

 

To learn more about Davco, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

NBP Member: Interview Series Featuring David MacLachlan

Written by Rachel Nolte  • March 8, 2017

rachel_for-webEditor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.

 

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David is Vice President at Dominick Falcone Agency, where he has worked for almost 12 years. Dominick Falcone Agency has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2012. David attended SUNY Geneseo and is a lifetime resident of Onondaga County.

Q: At what point did you realize that you wanted to go into this career?

A: It was about 20 years ago. I was getting out of school. The plan was ultimately to go to law school but I was going to work for a while, while my then fiancé, now wife, was at law school. But I went to work for an insurance company, thinking it was temporary, for a few years and really liked it, had some good opportunities, so stuck with it. I did that for about 10 years and I’ve been here for about almost 12, but it’s been insurance the whole time.

 

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: I do a lot of commercial insurance, so the best part really is just meeting with business owners of all types. Our typical client—there’s some very good size businesses, but not publicly traded companies or anything like that. I find it interesting to talk to, say three different machine shop manufacturers in a week, and they all are a little bit different, but they’re all successful in their own way. It’s just interesting, there’s a lot of different ways to be successful in business and personality types.

 

Q: Dominick Falcone Agency has been in service for 90 years. In what ways has the industry changed and in what ways has it remained the same?

A: The thing that’s remained the same in any customer service business—you really have to focus on listening to customers. There’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of different ways you can purchase insurance. So there’s an incredible amount of competition. The way we stay ahead of that is you have to pay attention to what customers need and listen to them and help guide them, maybe sometimes see some of the exposures that they don’t see. That really hasn’t changed. If you were doing that 70 years ago, it would still be—while the world was probably more simple as far as what businesses needed, you still needed to help them understand what risks. The building could still burn to the ground, workers can still get hurt.

The number of people you needed to handle the amount of business has really changed, and it’s technology. With rare exception, we deal with our insurance companies electronically 95% of the time. There’s still underwriters you talk to and claims adjusters, but so much of the communication is back and forth electronically. Frankly the technology has made it so that agents—we do a lot of work that the insurance companies used to do. They used to have dozens of people that were rating and quoting policies manually. It would be pen and pencil. Now, we enter the data and we can get a proposal in real time. Someone walks in, I can gather some information from them, and if they have 15 minutes or so, 20 minutes to wait, my commercial team or my personalized team can get a proposal together.

 

Q: If you had an afternoon free to spend on the Northside, what would you do?

A: I think I’d gather up a handful of my closest friends and have a very long, leisurely lunch at one of the great restaurants on the Northside. Attilio’s is very good and Julie’s is fantastic.

 

Q: If you could manage insurance for any business, which would you pick and why?

A: As far as a very large company, I think it would be interesting to handle the insurance for Starbucks. That may sound kind of crazy but, I would say that only if I could talk to the CEO. Howard Schultz, is that his name? He’s just a pretty interesting guy. I look at Starbucks and he took a product that’s been around for hundreds of years, if not longer, and convinced us that what we were consuming before wasn’t really all that good. We didn’t know that, and yet we’re willing to pay a premium for it. That’s not easy to do, and to see how that business has really thrived, I just find that amazing. If you think about it, you can get coffee anywhere. You can make it yourself, it’s not that hard to make, it’s not inaccessible, and yet look at how it’s taken off. It’s incredible. And he’s kind of interesting character, too, so that would add to it.

The interesting thing about commercial insurance is that there’s kind of basic needs, that whether you have no employees, in a small business, or you have a thousand employees or beyond, there’s basic things you need. You need general and building, you need to insure your product, you need to make sure that–it’s really just a financial hedge. You say to yourself, I don’t have enough cash to rebuild my building if it burns so I’m just going to transfer the rest to an insurance company for a fraction of what it would cost to rebuild. As things get bigger, things get complex. That’s where the interesting part of making sure what people have what they need. You start from the same general template, but then you really talk to business owners. You can look at the website and you can talk to them in terms of the insurance, but if you’re really not asking them about their business, then you’re really not going to know what their exposures are and what they need insurance for . . . Sometimes they’ll tell you about something they’re thinking about doing, and there might be insurance repercussions for that so you don’t want to help them, not be a road block, but help them, facilitate, and get it done. A guy who had been an attorney for a very long time told me that it’s so easy as an attorney to just throw down the bad things that can happen and try to protect everything but in reality, if you can facilitate getting business done, that’s being a good attorney. Help the person protect themselves, but don’t say no and no and no.

 

Q: What’s your favorite part about having a business on the Northside of Syracuse?

A: For us, it’s funny. We’ve been on the Northside so long, we kind of take it for granted. The agency was started in the front room of a house near I think what is now Our Lady of Pompei school. That’s just where it was and it’s always where it’s been. Dick and Joe, who are retired now, they grew up in Segdwick, they grew up less than a mile away from their office, where they worked for 40 years. It’s important for us to be in the city. It’s a hard question to answer because we just like being here. We’ve always been here, really in only two locations, unless you count the house they started in. When you’ve been somewhere for 90+ years, it’s just part of who you are.

 

To learn more about the Dominick Falcone Agency, visit their website.

Inspiring Words with Sarah Robin

Written by Rachel Nolte  • February 8, 2017

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Editor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.

 

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Sarah is the current “Chef in residence” for the With Love Restaurant. She is from Pakistan and is quite excited to bring a taste of her culture to Syracuse.

 

Q: How did you come to the Northside?

A: I came here as a refugee, 4 years ago, in 2012. When we came here, I was really happy because I feel so blessed here […] People are doing really, really great jobs. I feel so happy—like when I was here as a refugee, CYO Catholic Charities helped us a lot in many different ways. It’s not just the refugee programs, there are different kind of trainings, programs. So if you are new in this country, they will guide you. Even if I am in my own country, I can never learn so many things right away. So here, people help you a lot in many different ways. Even in this program, I know this is my cuisine, my recipes, so students are working on that. But for my job, I’m learning the management skills here. So just learning, learning, and giving more.

 

Q: How did you get involved in With Love?

A: Actually, I found Adam from CYO Catholic Charities. I went to CYO because when we came as refugees, they had different programs, every single day, every single week . . . So I just went over there one day and I saw that there was a card that says ‘My Lucky Tummy- if you know how to cook your country’s food, just give me a call back.’ So I just saw the card, it looked so interesting to me, and I just took that card, I came home, and I called that number and there was Adam. I said ‘I am from Pakistan,’ and he said, ‘Oh really?’ and he said, ‘What are the foods you can cook?’ The foods he asked me—I never cooked that before! Because there are some particular kinds of foods in my country, there are some special chefs. They cook that. We don’t cook that at home. They are specially prepared on weddings, on special occasions. But I said, ‘I don’t know.  I didn’t cook that before, but I can cook that. So…is that ok?’ There are a few things that I never knew before, that I didn’t cook before, but I did cook that for him. And he really liked that. And me myself, I really liked that.

 

Q: At the ribbon cutting, you indicated that you were surprised and even a little jealous about how well other chefs are able to make your cuisine. What other surprises have you encountered since opening?

A: The surprising part is that people aren’t familiar with my food but they really like it. That’s the best thing. They are not afraid to try new cuisine, new flavors, new spices. They came, they like it, they enjoy it, and they said they want more. And they want to come again and again. This is a really good and surprising thing for me.

 

Q: Is there anything that you feel can’t be captured about the culture of your food within the current format of a typical Western restaurant?

A: Yeah, definitely, because cuisine is a totally different thing. Because I only get few customers from Pakistan. And it’s totally different with them because the way they order, the way they like the food, it’s different. We don’t have a lot of things on our menu that are the typical Pakistani food. So they came here, the food they have right now, it’s good, but I know what they wanted, you know? What their main things are and we don’t have much time to cook all things here, we just have few students, like 4 students who are working here.

But the way I think, if people are coming from my country, it would be totally different […] When I open my own restaurant, I’m planning to have different cultured pictures from my country, and the clothing […] Like when we serve a food in my country, we have some special kind of cloth where we put our bread in it. It’s very interesting, so here it’s not the same. And in my country, it’s very important to see these things over there. And even when we serve a bread, it has to be in special kind of cloth and there’s a special plate we serve with them.

 

Q: If you could open a restaurant anywhere, where would it be and why?

A: Dubai, because I really love Dubai. It would be Pakistani, and I would try to do remix kind of things. Mixing my spices and mixing the American food with the Pakistani food. We are actually planning, me and Chris, the chef, we are planning to do some of these kinds of things in the future for this restaurant.

 

Q: Can you tell us your plans for after With Love?

A: I am really planning to [open a restaurant immediately after this] because I really want to take that spur with me. I want to continue that, I just don’t want to break it. But it just depends how far I get this space, how far I am prepared. I’m really ready, I really want to do that. I thought maybe it’s gonna be good on the Northside, but I’m not sure about that. There are many people from OCC, from the business management plan, that are going to help me, where will be the perfect place to do this business […]

My mother, she is a cosmetologist. I worked with her in my own country. So, I have so many different things I can do at the same time. Once my mom will be here, and if by God’s willing I will be successful in the restaurant business, then definitely I will do something in my hairstyling, in cosmetology.

 

Q: Anything else that you’d like to share with readers?

A: I just want to say, being a woman, being a refugee in this country, no matter whatever struggles you face, if you just focus on your dream, if you believe in yourself, just follow them, and do it. If you have faith in yourself, then I think people will believe you.

 

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To experience With Love, Pakistan for yourself, visit the restaurant during lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (12:00 – 2:00 PM) or dinner on Thursdays and Fridays (5:00 – 8:00 PM). For updates on With Love, check out their website and follow them on Facebook.

“What’s For Dinner?”: Featuring Azella Alvarez

Written by Rachel Nolte  • January 24, 2017

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Editor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.

 

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Azella is a Northside resident and business owner. Her restaurant is called Oompa Loompyas, which is a pun on the popular and delicious Filipino spring roll or lumpia.

 

Q: What brought you to the area?

I was married to a military guy, so when he got out of the military, we found that having 3 kids and living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in California, which is San Diego, was not feasible. So we started looking outwards and he was actually from the New York area . . . His family eventually moved here, so we visited here maybe twice, and that was it. We were like, let’s go! So, since then, we haven’t left since ’99 so we’re still here. When asked if she misses the weather, Azella immediately responded (with laughter) “Always.”

 

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering opening a business on the Northside?

I would say definitely have the passion for it because it’s a lot of long hours. I don’t think it ever dies down. It just becomes, because you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work. But you definitely have to get all the information . . . You have to have all your certificates in line, health, business, all in a row to get started because you can’t operate without that. You definitely want to go around and talk to any peers or friends or colleagues that you know and get any type of feedback from them because obviously experience matters. But when you’re in the trench of it all and you’re learning from the ground up, it’s you. It’s on you . . . The restaurant business, I will say, is the hardest. You never know what you’re going to get on a day to day basis. You try to stay consistent . . . Have excellent customer service because, most likely, you might have good food, but if you don’t have the customer service, they won’t come back . . . It works hand in hand.

 

Q: What developments on the Northside are you most excited for?

Hopefully, vamping up the Northside. Having the community be able to walk outside their house, be able to go to the neighborhood store, see that it’s actually a gem and not say, “Oh, well, gosh, you live on the Northside?” . . . I want to see growth of local restaurants here. It would be great if we could get the diversity—we’re certainly getting it with, there’s Laci’s down the road, there’s Middle Eastern down the road, then you have the Filipino, you have the Asian, the Vietnamese over here on the Northside as well, but it would be nice to see maybe Puerto Rican, Korean, Japanese, things like that all down Burnett would be nice. There’s a lot of open buildings for lease and you’re just hoping someone would go in there. That would, I think, restore the local community.

 

Collage 1

Left: traditional beef & crab stuffed lumpias; Right: beef bistek

 

Q: If you could change something about Syracuse, what would it be?

The weather? (Laughter) But it’s ok because I love the fall. If I could have the fall 6 months out of the year, that would be great. So, the weather for sure, but we can’t change that. I would also like to see Syracuse open up about different ethnicities. Because 9 out of 10 times, people will come here and they’ve never have Filipino food, which is so weird! It’s still being discovered…I think that we should find more festivals because people really go all out on festivals on the East Coast (I’m from California) So I’d like to see more diversity in festivals because that could really bring people together. Let’s say, hey! Make an effort to go to this Filipino festival, so to speak. We don’t have that. Even an Asian festival, in general, we don’t have that. We have the population―we’re big on refugees, so I could see that happening . . . I just think that as a whole, we need to be more aware of it.

 

Q: If you had to teach a class on an obscure topic, what would you teach?

I’d say Filipino 101. I find myself educating everyone everyday. And there’s no problem, I love my culture, but there’s definitely a lot of people that don’t know much about Filipino—what it is even. They’ll say, ‘so what is Filipino?’ They don’t even say, we’ll you’re Asian. They say, ‘what is it? What? Where—what is that a fusion of?’ They don’t see it as Asian at all, they just think it’s different. What would the first class be? Probably be the food, and that we’re such a hodge-podge of different ethnicities. I think we’re like the catalyst of fusion. It’s so weird. Like, in our language, there’s Spanish in it and people don’t know that. The Spaniards were our first settlers there, so the Spaniards are really big on our ancestry and a lot of our influences are from that. But then we’re derived also because being in Asia we derive also Asian, which brings in I think a lot of Malaysian and Chinese circles. So it’s just this mix of really deep roots.

 

Chicken adobo

Chicken adobo

 

Q: What’s for dinner?

We’re having our national dish. For the longest time, we were offering our pork adobo and people were loving that but a lot of people who were familiar with Filipino food were used to the chicken adobo. So today we have chicken adobo. And then like I said, it’s our signature national dish. It consists of garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce. It marinates for quite some time and you just let it simmer in there for a little bit and out comes this glorious flavor. It is so good and it’s the simplest of flavors but it’s just the depths of it. It’s just amazing.

I can personally attest to the fact that this was, in fact, delicious. There is something magical that happened with those flavors that I can’t quite explain. 

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