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Category: Up Start

Up Start Business Hosts Event on Northside

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 27, 2017

Our colleagues at Up Start have been busy helping the latest cohort of entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, including Pretty & Pink Party Planning who’s having a “girls only” event on the Northside at Jumpin Jupiter! Check out all the details for Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun!

To learn more about Pretty & Pink’s services, follow them on Facebook.

Celebrating the Opening of With Love, Pakistan

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • December 14, 2016


“We’re here in a building that was once looked at as a liability,” explained Northside UP’s Dominic Robinson, “A crumbling, tax delinquent building on the Northside that now is going to be an engine for economic opportunity and a cultural tool.”

Earlier this month, a crowd of elected officials and community partners packed into With Love Restaurant’s light blue space, sipping on Pink Chai and examining the colorful maps that hung on the walls, eager to celebrate a project long in the making. They were there to commemorate the opening of With Love, a teaching restaurant and entrepreneur incubator at 435 North Salina Street, and to hear remarks from some of the players who helped make this project possible.

The story begins when Dominic and Kathy Ruscitto, President of St. Joseph’s Health, had a meeting with Casey Crabill, the new President of Onondaga Community College (OCC). “We started sharing an idea we had for a restaurant incubator and training space . . . and so, we decided to work together to make this happen,” Dominic explains.

OCC began to develop programming and the idea quickly took shape. The College agreed to operate the restaurant, using it as a teaching venue for their food service training program. Every six months, a new entrepreneur will cycle through the program to test out their recipes and gain valuable experience in running their own restaurant. Up Start, a collaborative business development program housed in CenterState CEO and originally piloted on the Northside, will lend support to each entrepreneur along the way. Dominic explains, “The idea is we give entrepreneurs a chance to test their ideas, build an identity, build confidence, build a following, and then translate all of that into hopefully opening up a restaurant of their own.”

But, the idea still needed a physical space to operate in. Katelyn Wright at the Land Bank helped secure the former La Cuisine space on North Salina, along with help from the county and state governments, including the Onondaga County of Industrial Development Association (OCIDA).

During the initial stages, Mike Metzgar, Associate Vice President of Workforce Development at OCC, needed someone who could not only manage the program running out of With Love, but could also “carry it across the finish line.” Dominic recommended Adam Sudmann for the job: “I happen to have a friend who is also working with us in the Up Start program . . . He has a business called My Lucky Tummy and this is what he does.”

Fast forward to late fall. Adam and his team of OCC students and chefs have been tweaking menus, learning the ins-and-outs of the kitchen, and how to function seamlessly as a team. “Whenever I tell people what I get to do, they’re like—I can see it in their face—they’re instantly jealous,” Adam jokes. “They should be jealous. This is awesome.” He explains that when he first arrived in Syracuse from Brooklyn he was driving through the Northside and saw all the different people walking along the street. He said to himself, “Wow. That is a crazy resource. We can make something here . . . and eat a lot.”


The very first entrepreneur in residence at With Love is Sarah Robin, a woman from Lahore, Pakistan who dreamt of opening her own food business. “Thank you so much for introducing me in this city,” Sarah said during the With Love opening. “There is no Pakistani restaurant and this is a huge opportunity for me to represent my food, my culture.” Her menu includes a Butternut Dal with star anise, cumin, and clove and a Halal chicken with “too many spices to list.”

The opening event ended with a flurry of press interviews and photo taking. The front door to the restaurant remained propped open to welcome any one who wandered in. “When I was in college,” Adam mentioned during his speech, “we studied this term, ‘xenia.’ Even when you’re in conflict with neighbors or even at war, ‘xenia’ is this notion that when someone comes across your threshold into your space, they are your guest. The people that come through this door they’re not our customer, they are our guest. Even in this strange cultural moment . . . it’s such a gift to be able to teach the notion of how do we treat strangers coming through our door. That’s what we’re going to work on here: how to treat strangers and what gifts strangers are bringing to us.”


To learn more about With Love, visit their website and follow them on Facebook. The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday – Wednesday, 12:00 – 2:00 PM and for dinner Thursday – Friday, 5:00 – 8:00 PM.

To read more about With Love’s opening celebration, check out these articles from local and national news organizations:

With Love, Pakistan, OCC’s teaching restaurant, opens on Syracuse’s North Side from Syracuse.com

Grand opening of OCC teaching restaurant in Syracuse from CNY Central

Teaching restaurant brings world cuisines to Syracuse from WRVO Public Media

With Love, Pakistan: Entrepreneurial Incubator Launches in Syracuse from Welcome Economies Global Network


Photo Friday: Take 2, From With Love Restaurant’s Grand Opening

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • December 2, 2016


Photo Friday: Team Shot at the With Love Restaurant Opening

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • 


Up Start Update: Salt City Coffee

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 3, 2016


Aaron Metthe and his wife, Maria, left New Jersey to conduct outreach for Axiom, a nontraditional church, in Syracuse. They settled on the Northside and Aaron started connecting with many of the New Americans in his neighborhood, offering help where needed and listening to their stories.

Aaron came to Up Start after his love of community and coffees of the world merged to form a business idea, Salt City Coffee. With marketing and financial support from Up Start and its partners, Aaron launched a website to begin selling locally-roasted, fair traded coffee throughout Central New York. His coffee soon expanded to local businesses like Metro Home Style, Pastificio, and Thanos Import Market who began brewing and/or selling Salt City Coffee, as well.

This winter, Aaron will open the doors of Salt City Coffee’s cafe location on West Onondaga Street. The cafe is inside an old home that connects the Near West Side and the South Side neighborhoods. It’s a spot that feels inviting and homey with exposed brick and beautifully detailed railings. To extend the community feel, Aaron plans to implement a program that allows his customers to purchase an extra cup of coffee for any person who is in need of a warm cup, but unable to pay. Aaron hopes the space will also be used for community groups to congregate. An open seating area near the counter is equipped with a projector and screen for presentations. Before he finally opens the door to the community, Aaron is playing around with different drink recipes to fill out a full menu of coffee and tea options.

To learn more about Aaron and Salt City Coffee, click on the video below from Daylight Blue Media.

To stay up-to-date on Salt City Coffee’s opening, stay tuned to their Facebook page. To try a selection of coffee and teas for yourself, visit Aaron’s website and get free delivery in Syracuse.

Up Start is a collaborative business development program that connects entrepreneurs to the resources, tools, and networks to help their businesses thrive. If you missed any of the other “Up Start Updates” celebrating the program’s birthday, find That’s What’s Up food truck’s here and Aloha Japanese Bento Express’ here.

CenterState CEO’s Economic Champions

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 25, 2016


Congratulations to St. Joseph’s Health, the recipient of this year’s Community Visionary Award at CenterState CEO’s Economic Champions Luncheon! Their commitment to the Northside and the Near West Side goes beyond the typical definition of a “hospital.” CenterState CEO’s President, Rob Simpson, explains,”For nearly a decade, St. Joe’s has exhibited the vision, commitment and leadership that is critical to advancing opportunities to create greater prosperity in our community.” To learn more about St. Joe’s efforts and their dedication to “our neighbors,” click on the video below.

Overall, CenterState recognized 295 companies at the luncheon and the impact they have on our region: “collective hiring of 3,163 employees, more than 1 million square feet of expansions, and over $650 million in capital investments.” In addition, 68 new businesses were recognized, in line with this year’s theme, “Celebrating Business Beginnings.” Click on the video below to learn what drives these up-and-coming business owners and see some of the original Up Start entrepreneurs: Aloha Japanese Bento Express, That’s What’s Up food truck and catering, and Salt City Coffee.

To learn more about the Economic Champions in our region, visit CenterState CEO’s website or follow them on Facebook.

Up Start Update: That’s What’s Up

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 13, 2016


Three years ago, Curtis Washington came to Up Start with a plan to revive and refine his food truck business after it failed to take off. He went through a rebranding effort, selecting a new name, designing a new logo, and creating a new menu. During that time, he continued to work as a chef and began catering events and parties. With a solid foundation of Southern cooking that stems from childhood summers spent in his Grandmother’s kitchen, Curtis was able to experiment with international flavors and techniques and gain feedback during his catering gigs and other marketplace experiences facilitated by Up Start.

In the spring of 2015, Curtis was ready to launch his food truck, taking it to the Food Truck Rodeo, parking on the St. Joseph’s Health campus during lunch time, and popping up at different events in the community. This year, he and his business were nominated for the Best Local Chef and Best Food Truck/Food Stand in the Syracuse New Times‘ “Best of Syracuse” contest.

Click the photo below to watch Curtis’ update on Vimeo!

Video by Daylight Bluye Media

Video by Daylight Bluye Media

To learn more about That’s What’s Up, follow them on Facebook and visit their website.

Stay tuned for more updates about our first Up Start entrepreneurs as we celebrate Up Start’s birthday.

Up Start is a collaborative business development program that connects entrepreneurs to the resources, tools, and networks to help their businesses thrive. 

Up Start Update: Aloha Japanese Bento Express

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 26, 2016


Last November, Zaw Nyein and his wife, Thaw, opened Aloha Japanese Bento Express, the first restaurant in Syracuse that fuses the flavors of Burma, Japan and Hawaii. Located at 217 South Salina Street, Aloha was the dream of Zaw, a geologist from Burma who left his home country to find other economic opportunities.  He moved to Japan first, and then Hawaii, where he took a series of restaurant jobs. As he learned the ins-and-outs of running a restaurant and creating traditional Japanese and Hawaiian dishes, he started to contemplate opening his own restaurant in a city where his daughter could also receive a good education. He chose Syracuse.

Click below to watch Zaw’s update on Vimeo!



Video by Daylight Blue Media

To learn more about Aloha and take a look at their menu, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

Stay tuned to learn more about some of our first Up Start entrepreneurs as we celebrate Up Start’s birthday.

Up Start is a collaborative business development program that connects entrepreneurs to the resources, tools, and networks to help their businesses thrive. 



Welcoming Week 2016

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 22, 2016


September 16th marked the start of National Welcoming Week  (Sept. 16 – 26), a movement “recognizing that immigrants and refugees make our communities stronger economically, socially, and culturally.” This week and throughout the year we’ll be sharing stories gathered from our own work, as well as the work of our friends and partners, about New Americans whose talents have made our city a better place to live, work, and play.

Below is a list  which includes a collection of stories from the archive that discuss how our city has been shaped by New Americans, past and present. Many thanks to organizations such as InterFaith Works, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, Hopeprint and the Northside Learning Center for all of their hard work in helping make Syracuse a friendly and welcoming place for these newcomers.

42 Million Have A Name by Hopeprint (2012)

Nicole Watts reflects on the question, “Why do we as America open our gates wide to the immigrant and the refugee?”: “It is not possible to objectify the refugee. They are no longer simply 42 million; they are one and another one. They are orphaned children and homeless families. They are uprooted business men and blossoming adults. They are teenage girls and old men. They are Ah Shim, Jerome, Rana and Bhim. They are friends and they are strangers. They are people. And some of them are our neighbors.”


Video: Monu Chhetri, video produced and edited by Ross Taylor (2014)

Monu, a young chef from My Lucky Tummy, shares her story about giving back to the deaf refugee community: “Humans are social creatures. They’re not meant to be alone and for them to be in their house all the time with absolutely no interaction is boring and sad and lonely. And it’s so important for them to come out and share their feelings whether they’re happy, whether their sad. They have a connection here seeing this. We’re all deaf. We all come from similar experiences that not a lot of people have.”


Fastest Hands on the Northside by Joe Russo (2012)

As a child, Joe Russo remembers visiting the Italian bakeries on the Northside: “Not so long ago I ran into an old school friend who now makes his home in California. ‘I’m back for a visit’, he said, ‘I gotta get a couple loaves. You just can’t get crust like this in California.'”


Green Train Students Act in Play About Their Past (2010)

The Post-Standard discusses the play, “Reflections of the Unsung Genocide of The Congo” developed by Emmanuel Irankunda and Mahirwe Dina Ndeze, graduates of Green Train and refugees from the Congo.


Dinner with Strangers by Adam Sudmann (2014) 

The founder of My Lucky Tummy talks about the food and stories shared as he meets with potential chefs: “I had an idea for a party. Maybe we could convince families to cook foods from home for a popup food court. And so over several weeks we trudged up sludgy snowbanks and into strangers’ homes. Lots of removing of shoes in the cold air. Lots of sitting on floors, being brought bottled water or pepsi or chai. And meals. Meals I will never forget.”


Neighborhood Spotlight: Jai Subedi by Lexie Kwiek (2015)

Our guest blogger from NEHDA introduces a Jai Subedi: “Jai plays numerous roles in the Syracuse community. He is a local business owner, a Northside resident, an InterFaith Works case manager, and he is active on multiple committees. But one of his overarching duties is using his experience as a Bhutanese refugee to help other refugees acclimate to a new country while keeping their culture alive.”


Newhouse Profiles Hari fro UP Start Syracuse, audio recording by Marwa Eltagour (2014)

Up Start entrepreneur and Bhutanese refugee, Hari, shares his idea for a restaurant: “There was nothing of the sort — momo and a few other food — that is not introduced to this place . . . we can make Syracuse as a ‘food of the world.'”

Happy Birthday Up Start!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 19, 2016

Happy Birthday Up Start

It’s been three years since we launched our Up Start program! Originally piloted on the Northside, this collaborative business development program has continued to connect entrepreneurs to the resources, tools, and networks to help their businesses thrive. Since its launch in 2013, Up Start has undergone some changes to help grow and sustain the effort under CenterState CEO‘s Economic Inclusion pillar, gaining inspiration from similar work at the Neighborhood Development Center in Minnesota and revamping its look with a new logo.

To celebrate the milestone we’ll be giving updates about some of the first entrepreneurs who graduated from the program and their businesses: Curtis Washington from That’s What’s Up food truck, Aaron Metthe of Salt City Coffee, and  Zaw Nyein of Aloha Japanese Bento Express. Stay tuned!