By Sabrina Katrayan
Opening up a kitchen remodeling business in this economy seems like a risky move, but that didn’t stop Fred Alvaro. Last November, he opened up Avalon Kitchen in Latham and so far business has been steady.
Alvaro is no stranger to the industry. As a teenager he worked with his grandfather and later with his father in the construction business, mainly building homes in Colonie and Loudonville. For eight years, he has worked for Rosewood Builders in Latham, designing kitchens and bathrooms in newly constructed homes.
But he wanted a heftier workload and decided to break from the business. He purchased the kitchen division from Rosewood in November 2008, hired an employee and got started with his new business – Avalon Kitchen, which is named after the Roxy Music song “Avalon”. Alvaro also thought the name evoked thoughts of luxury, for which he wanted his business to be known for.
Ironically, his business is located right next door to his former employer. Though it looks like an office building from the outside, don’t be fooled – inside is a 4,000 square foot showroom full of the latest contemporary kitchen and bathroom designs.
“Albany has always gone for the traditional style design and it’s taking a longer time to transition to contemporary style. I want to speed that up!” said Alvaro, who regularly attends kitchen and bathroom shows as he updates his showroom designs.
But, the style is definitely catching on. Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, many clients are looking to keep the room sleek, requesting low-based built-in cabinets making for an easier transition from dishwasher to cabinet, sliding pantry cabinets and cabinets with cushioning that are easier and quieter to close.
Alvaro also finds himself designing and installing a lot of desk areas located in the kitchen for laptops and mudrooms, and re-modeled laundry rooms and closets are also high on the list.
The sleek and easy style also extends to the bathroom. Currently, the hottest trends are contemporary-styled medicine cabinets with sliding mirrors allowing clients to place a television or radio inside. Uplifting lighting and accessories are also popular, from cabinets that light up when you open them to mirrors with defoggers.
But kitchens and bathrooms aren’t the only thing Avalon Kitchen offers. There’s also a slow-growing trend for wine rooms and wet bars.
“People are looking for function, but also entertainment purposes,” he said.
Some people are looking to transform their dining rooms into unique Italian or Napa Valley-style wine rooms with cherry ceilings and slate floors and racks that hold hundreds of wine bottles. Others have requested non-refrigerated wine rooms complete with dining and tasting tables.
They are also asking for wet bars or what Alvaro calls “parents’ retreats” to be added to their master bedrooms. These unique areas include a small sink and fridge, cabinets that hold wine glasses and coffee cups, and a coffee maker, giving parents a chance to enjoy their morning coffee without having to leave their rooms.
If you’re already looking forward to next year’s trends, you may have to wait. According to Alvaro, many manufacturers are looking to improve their current products, making them more functional with nicer finishes, rather than coming out with new stuff.
“Everyone is skeptical about coming out with new items right now,” he said.
One trend here to stay, however, is that the designing and constructing industry is going “green.” One manufacturer has been replacing its counter tops with ones made from recycled materials like beer bottles, something clients are beginning to request.
He also sees a growing request for two-toned kitchen designing. For example, one kitchen he worked on featured cherry cabinets, but the island was made out of maple, a sign that the Capital Region is embracing the contemporary style.
“There’s more to kitchens than just cabinets,” Alvaro said.
Avalon Kitchen is located at 1202 Troy-Schenectady Road, Building 3, Latham. For more information call 857.8713.
Foot Care of Clifton Park
By Ciara McCann
With 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles and 107 ligaments, the foot is a complex part of the body. When you experience foot pain you want instant relief, and luckily residents of the Capital Region won’t have to go far for that relief.
Foot Care of Clifton Park opened just last month and is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Dr.’s Steve and Mindy Lam. They met while studying podiatry at Temple University in Philadelphia and have been married for five years. While Mindy is originally from Maryland, Steve is a native of Niskayuna, which is just part of the reason they decided to open their office here.
“We really like the Clifton Park area and think it’s a great place to raise a family,” said Mindy, mother of a year-old son. “We also thought it was a growing community with a need for more podiatrists.”
Steve and Mindy knew since they were in graduate school that they wanted to one day open their own office and it stayed in the back of their minds throughout their residencies. Working in other podiatrist’s offices only reinforced the idea.
“The training for podiatrists has changed a lot over the past 10 years and we found that many offices don’t really represent what Steve and I are capable of,” Mindy said. “We want our patients to have the most fresh and up-to-date treatment options and for our office to reflect that.”
Prior to opening last month, the couple worked for two years at a local doctor’s office, a time in which they learned a lot.
“During your residency you learn everything you need about your medical field and how to treat patients,” said Mindy, “but you don’t really learn what it’s like to run a business.” Those years gave them the background and experience needed to not only make sure their patients get the best care, but also how to keep the office running smoothly.
Another reason they decided to open a joint practice was to be close to each other.
“It’s hard to find work in this field in the same area, so this seemed like a great solution.”
The reason they pursued podiatry in the first place is because they enjoyed the mix of sports medicine and surgery the field provides, in addition to the wide variety of pathologies it allows you to treat.
Mindy specializes in reconstructive foot surgery and diabetic limb salvage, with extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of the foot in pediatric, adult and geriatric patients. Steve, on the other hand, focuses predominantly on traumatic injuries and congenital problems.
And while treating sports injuries is certainly one of their main focuses, Steve and Mindy say their practice is geared toward active individuals as a whole.
“We treat any problem or condition that occurs in the foot,” said Mindy. This includes diabetic and arthritic foot care, pediatric problems, sprains, bone spurs, ingrown nails and more.
“Basically any type of bump, bruise or pain,” she said.
The most popular affliction at the moment is heel pain and flat feet. It’s during the warmer months that people are more active, which is when they notice their foot issues.
There are many different causes for heel pain, but a common cause is inflammation and strain of a ligament on the bottom of your foot called the plantar fascia. Over-pronation (flattening out of the arch of your foot) is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis and inappropriate shoe gear can be an aggravating factor.
“Most people don’t realize how many things can go wrong with your feet until it actually happens, and that’s where we come in.”
The couple plans on expanding their practice as time goes on and don’t seem to be worried about the economy’s impact on the business.
“People need quality medical care regardless of the economy. If there is one thing you should spend money on, it should be your health and bettering your quality of life,” Mindy said.
As for how the doctors like running the business together, they couldn’t be happier.
“We work really well together and I don’t think there is anyone I’d work better with,” said Mindy. “We’re on the same wavelength on both patient care and running the office, plus we don’t get sick of each other. We just have to work on balancing, and not bringing work home with us!”
Foot Care of Clifton Park is located at 4 Emma Lane, Suite 403 in Clifton Park. For more information, call 371.7133.
Greenway Lawn Care Products & Equipment
By Sabrina Katrayan
“We take pride in our lawns and our services. They’re the best advertising for us. If our truck is parked on your lawn, we want everyone to know that’s ‘our’ lawn.”
That is the philosophy of Gail Randazzo of Greenway Lawn Care Products & Equipment in Schenectady. Together, she and her husband, Thaddeus, opened their new business this past May and their team of workers includes their sons, Alex and Thaddeus II, and nephew, Jordan.
But Greenway Lawn Care isn’t their only business. They also operate Carefree Lawns, a lawn service offering landscaping to business and residential properties. They offer mowing, edging, bed maintenance, weekly weeding, shaping, re-seeding, fertilizing and more.
Together, the Randazzos bring years of experience to the table. Thaddeus attended SUNY Morrisville for agriculture and took online courses through the College of Turf Management. Afterward, he began working with a lawn care company in Kentucky, where he served as district manager. In the late 1980s, he moved to Esperance in Schoharie County and started Carefree Lawns. Little did he know that this business venture would lead him to his future wife and business partner.
Gail is no stranger to lawn maintenance. She grew up in Guilderland watching her father meticulously take care of his garden and was a property manager for a construction company in Albany where she was responsible for hiring maintenance companies for mowing, snow-plowing and electrical work. When she had to hire a fertilizing company, she met Thaddeus and hired him. They started dating and after they got married, Gail left her job and joined her new husband in business.
One of Thaddeus’s major services was fertilizing, so he was constantly at John Deere Landscaping in Schenectady purchasing their products. When they went out of business last year, the couple decided to carry on the lawn care retail business by opening their own retail store under the name “Greenway”, representing the green direction their lawn care business is headed.
Greenway sells lawn care products and equipment, including many hard-to-find products not readily available at big box stores, such as eco-friendly plant and bug sprays; eventually they’ll add organic fertilizers to the list. Unlike competitors, Greenway offers more reasonable prices because they reach out to more suppliers than a typical home improvement store would. They also sell the usual equipment like lawn mowers, blades and oil.
“Our products are really successful. We once had a UPS guy come in and tell us his lawn wasn’t doing too well. We suggested a product to him and told him to let us know how it went. He loved how his lawn turned out that he came back to our store asking to buy more! If we suggest a product and it’s not working, we want our customers to tell us. That way we know to go back to our supplier and figure out what went wrong or what we could do to better the situation. A huge part of our business is customer feedback.” Gail said.
She recounted the story of a woman who was getting ready to sell her mother’s home and wanted to know what advice they had. “We told her to make sure the front part looked good and we offered landscaping services for her as well as driveway sealing. It’s not part of our initial service list, but we’ll do whatever it takes to keep people’s properties looking their best.”
Both businesses have a long list of happy customers, from homeowners to landscape workers. Some of their contracts include maintaining lawns of “open houses” for construction companies, caring for a Rotterdam school soccer field and more recently, they have been in talks with Union College.
It has truly been a wonderful endeavor for the Randazzo’s. While Thaddeus and the boys are out on the field, Gail works the office, handling both businesses. Eventually, they hope to merge the two to provide the ultimate lawn care experience.
In the end, Greenway is all about their customer service. Thaddeus, with 26 years of field experience and consulting, is ready for any problem – big or small.
“You have to love what you’re doing if you really want to help people out,” said Gail.
Greenway Lawn Care Products & Equipment is located at 2166 Maxon Road Extension in
Schenectady. For more information, please call 377.7800.
New World Bistro Bar
By Sabrina Katrayan
If there’s one thing owners Annette Nanes and Scott Meyer of New World Bistro Bar take great pride in with their new business, it’s their unique menu. And they credit Chef Ric Orlando for that.
Orlando, formerly of Justin’s on Lark Street and owner of a restaurant in Saugerties, has successfully designed a distinctive menu consisting of “enthusiastic” global comfort food.
“We’ve always enjoyed his food and his philosophy of food,” Nanes said of Orlando, whom she and her husband have known for 15 years.
Their bistro, located on Delaware Avenue in Albany, a few doors down from the Spectrum Theatre which they also co-own, opened in March of this year after six years of planning. The couple saw a need to provide good food to their theatre patrons and surrounding Delaware Avenue neighborhood as well as the Albany community as a whole.
In 2003, they purchased a building that previously housed a plumbing business. In 2006, the renovations began.
“We built New World Bistro Bar with confidence because it’s something that we knew was needed,” Nanes said.
The bistro was constructed using “green awareness” – parts of the old plumbing building such as exposed brick, black pipe and plaster were saved and used as part of the restaurant’s design.
The couple purchased the mahogany bar, which is from the 1939 NY World’s Fair, at an auction. The booths, banquettes, tables, carpets and chairs were taken from the former Malt River Brewing Company in Latham. In the kitchen, they placed a four-burner induction warmer stove, a four-deck electric pizza oven and an electric convection oven, and 80 seats were set up throughout the restaurant.
The doors finally opened at New World Bistro Bar this past March, much to the anticipation of many. So far, business has been steady. Their patrons run the gamut – from teenagers to businessmen to theatre-goers – as does their menu.
“You can take your pick on what type of meal you want. It can be an inexpensive simple burger or pizza to a nice, four-course dinner or entree,” Nanes said.
New World Bistro Bar focuses on “global food-local pride.” Chef Orlando carefully selects the best local ingredients from fresh tomatoes to artisan cheeses, for his masterful creations.
Their most popular dishes include the CAGE pan blackened string beans with a Creole remoulade sauce and the New World “No Crash” Mushroom Risotto made with organic brown rice, a mix of Portobello, oyster and crimini mushrooms, sweet peas, leeks and sage.
When you’re dining at New World Bistro Bar, Nanes and her husband want to make sure your stay is memorable and that you’ll want to visit again. It’s best said on their website:
“We can all live better if we begin to expect restaurants to make great meals without encouraging chemists to invent indestructible foods.”
New World Bistro Bar is located at 300 Delaware Avenue, Albany. For more information call 694.0520 or visit www.newworldbistrobar.com.
Pure Elements – An Organic Salon
By Sabrina Katrayan
Like many hair stylists, Kristen Gaffney envisioned owning her own salon one day. But, for this 27-year-old, the chance to open one came under unusual circumstances – health reasons.
Gaffney, in the business for nine years, developed sinus and lung problems and learned from her doctor that the ammonia and other dangerous chemicals in the hair color products she was using were causing these problems.
“I remember bringing in the hair color tube to the doctor and being told that is what is causing my sinuses to flare up,” Gaffney said. It was then that the Rotterdam-native decided to research healthier salon options, which later led her to open her own organic salon in Guilderland four months ago – Pure Elements.
The location couldn’t be more perfect on busy Western Avenue. Gaffney lucked out in January of this year when she leased the vacated space left by a former tanning center. By the end of February, renovations were underway.
According to Gaffney, hers is the first “all-organic” salon in the Capital Region, which sets her apart from other salons. ‘All organic’ meaning that almost all of the products she uses are made of natural materials and contain little to no chemicals. From hair color, shampoo, conditioners and sprays, to Zoya all-natural nail polish and eco-friendly acrylic nails to Jane Iredale mineral makeup which improves your skin over time, Gaffney is dedicated to providing her clients with the most natural products possible.
“My goal is to be all-organic, but obviously not everything is going to be completely 100 percent organic, like the makeup. I still want to keep as many harmful chemicals like ammonia and formaldehyde out of the products, but I want them to work,” she said.
When Gaffney began researching for beauty products made without chemicals, the first product she learned about was an organic hair color company located in Florida called Organic Color Systems.
“The hair color doesn’t irritate or smell or stain your skin, and it adds a nice shine to your hair for a healthier look,” Gaffney said.
Her most popular selling items are the organic Onesta shampoos and conditioners made from all natural products like honey, sage or nettle.
“Going organic is the hottest style right now because clients can really see the benefits.”
Since opening, she has received calls from near and far, including a woman in Massachusetts and one from New York City looking for her salon’s one-of-a-kind services.
She has three employees and offers the usual assortment of salon services: cuts, coloring, formal styling for weddings and proms, perms, manicures, pedicures, facial waxing and a Brazilian keratin treatment that eliminates 100 percent of frizz in your hair. Pure Elements also welcomes men and children.
The experience of being a business owner has been tremendous for Gaffney, who has enjoyed every moment.
“Make sure it’s something you’re really passionate about. It’s wonderful having your own business,” she said.
Pure Elements-An Organic Salon Salon is located at 1726 Western Avenue in Albany. For more information call 608.5405.
Water’s Edge Restaurant
By Rebecca Eppelmann
You don’t need to own a restaurant to understand how much work goes into opening one. For many, a few months can easily be spent coming up with the appropriate name, menu or dcor. For the owners of Water’s Edge Restaurant in New Baltimore, within six weeks they’d accomplished all of the above, and more.
Kim Minetti, daughter-in-law of owner Charles Minetti, can certainly attest to her family’s hard work and determination. Located on the same property as the Shady Harbor Marina off River Road, which Charles also owns, Water’s Edge came about after the restaurant’s previous owner made an eleventh hour decision.
“The previous owners decided at the last minute not to renew the lease,” said Minetti, who is in charge of marketing and advertising for the restaurant. “Within six weeks we completed renovations to the interior, came up with a new name, new menu, new chef and a completely new staff.”
Housed in what was formerly known as The Boathouse Restaurant, the new owners have received positive feedback from customers. “We’ve gotten rave reviews on the renovation and compliments on the staff and the food.”
The lunch menu ranges from a calamari appetizer to wraps and hot and cold sandwiches; dinner offers an expanded assortment of appetizers, including tomato, mozzarella and basil and jumbo shrimp cocktail, along with a host of dinner salads and various beef, chicken, seafood, burger and pasta selections.
Though they just opened four months ago, Water’s Edge has already hosted its fair share of events. “We’ve done a ton of private parties; we’ve done showers, birthdays and weddings.”
Their dining room can accommodate up to 150 people, which could expand to 250 if the party is expanded onto the deck, which overlooks the Hudson River. Depending on the size of the event and the time of year, Water’s Edge can host a private event while allowing the public to dine as well.
A family-oriented business, the owner of the Water’s Edge and his family do a lot of work around both the marina and the restaurant. Minetti and her husband live downstate, but are up every weekend to help her father-in-law. His other two sons help out whenever they can.
Originally from New Jersey, Minetti considers the New Baltimore community a nice change of pace. “It’s a nice change, the whole family is there and we’re working together to make it work,” she said. “The people are super friendly; it’s a little more slowed down so you get to know people on a one-on-one basis.”
She describes the ambiance of the new restaurant as elegantly casual. “It’s not over the top where you have to come in slacks and dresses,” she said, adding that since it’s also a marina, they get their fair share of boaters, which makes it a little more casual.
When asked what people should know about Water’s Edge, Minetti answers without hesitation: “Great food, wonderful service and it’s a family-oriented, friendly atmosphere.”
Water’s Edge Restaurant is located at 70 Shady Harbor Drive, New Baltimore (between buoy markers 185 and 187). For more information call 756.2000 or visit www.watersedgeatshadyharbor.com.
Home of the Good Shepherd Memory Care Facility
By Sabrina Katrayan
“Comfort, care and security.”
These are three values that Home of the Good Shepherd, a Saratoga County assisted-living residence, has been providing the community since 1870, when six parishioners of the Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs saw a community need to help elderly women struggling to take care of themselves.
The church raised enough money to buy an old, 32-roomed building on Greenfield Avenue in Saratoga Springs and started a home for the needy women.
Today, Home of the Good Shepherd has expanded to three facilities in Saratoga Springs, Malta and Wilton, with a fourth, a Memory Care Facility, opening in Malta later this month. And they all welcome both sexes for as long as care is needed.
“As our residents aged in place and developed illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, we saw a need for specialized care and pleasant surroundings,” said Denise Cote, chief executive officer for Home of the Good Shepherd.
The new Memory Care Facility is located near separately-owned independent senior apartments and will be next door to one of the Home of the Good Shepherd Assistant Living residences. Construction for the new building began last October and Cote hopes to have residents settled in a few weeks.
The facility can be best described as an assisted-living residence that offers the services of a nursing home. It will house 16 residents with Alzheimer’s and 16 enhanced-care residents (those who have aged-in-place and now require skilled nursing). The building will be divided into a unique design of two pods with eight rooms or units. Residents will have their own private living space and bathroom. Each pod has its own living room with a fireplace, an environment that encourages residents to socialize with other residents or their activity coordinator, as will the shared dining room and kitchen.
The facility has been carefully designed from the interior to the set-up of the building to tailor to the needs of the residents. Since a common behavior of Alzheimer’s patients is wandering, there are wandering paths, or continuous walking loops, inside the building for residents to walk around safely.
Outside, residents can take advantage of the park-like setting for a walk, gardening, or other outdoor activities or hobbies.
“All of these features give our residents that homey-feel like they’re staying in a house instead of feeling like they’re in an institution,” Cote said.
From housekeeping, meals, personal care and medication-assistance to keeping residents active with a full schedule of activities, these services will be provided based on a resident’s needs. They can also enjoy amenities such as the onsite beauty salon and bathing spa, music and gardening therapy to challenge the mind, and the chapel.
Caregiver-family support groups are also offered so you will always be updated on your loved one’s status.
“We want to provide this good quality of life to residents while helping families and caregivers of these residents with this disease,” said Cote.
She believes that every community should have a small assisted-living facility in the area so that the elderly can remain in their own neighborhood. It also allows family members to stop by and visit their loved ones after school or work.
Home of the Good Shepherd gives its residents a chance to connect with the area they grew up in, whether it’s shopping and lunch excursions or a trip to the Saratoga County Fair with their housemates.
“It’s wonderful to know that you kept these people close to home while helping their families take care of them,” Cote said.
Home of the Good Shepherd Memory Care Facility is located at 26 Rock Rose Way, Malta. For more information call 581.2800 or visit www.homeofthegoodshepherd.com.
L. Wicks Fine Art Gallery
By MB Galarneau
If there is one thing that sets L. Wicks Fine Art gallery apart from others it is the relationship that owner Lisa Revet has with each of the nine artists she represents.
In fact, it is because of these artists that she got started in the art business in the first place. For about a decade, Revet had her own business selling long-term insurance in the Capital District (she still owns the business). She became friends with a few artists after serving on similar boards and working on charity events with them.
“I have believed in them for years and years,” said Revet. She decided in 2008 to hold a show for them in a commercial building she owns in downtown Hoosick Falls. That show morphed into a gallery in that same town.
Eight of the artists live within an hour of the gallery and one lives in Italy. There are two sets of husband and wife artists. Five have major careers and are internationally known. (See sidebar).
“I’m blessed in the fact that I hand-picked these artists. Some have major credentials and careers, some are still emerging.”
After a year in Hoosick Falls, Revet decided to relocate for better foot traffic. She had her sights set on Saratoga, which has a growing arts community, the perfect area to take her business to the next level.
“I thought it was time to get bigger,” she said.
Though she moved to her new spot anticipating that her business would expand, it’s actually smaller than her previous gallery. But, she was able to “edit things down” and is happy with her new home, along heavily-trafficked Broadway. With hardwood floors and 15-foot high brick walls, the gallery has a very NY loft vibe.
She is in the previous spot of artist Frankie Flores, who relocated to another gallery in Saratoga Springs. To reach L. Wicks Fine Art, simply take the stairs at Max London’s to the second floor.
Revet joked that she’s not an artist herself, which is why she represents them. However, she did grow up with a love of art, which stems from her mother’s side. Her mother was an artist, who gave up her career when she got married and had children. Her uncle was an architect and her grandfather a concert pianist.
Describing her pieces as a “wonderful eclectic collection of museum quality” they are not considered “decorator art.” Instead, her pieces are considered fine art that will be passed down from generation to generation.
Her customers are typically tourists and locals and she has even received inquiries from as far as out west.
A typical day for Revet begins around 5am and doesn’t end until 10:30 that night. She spends her mornings following up with interested artists and marketing her new gallery. She also services clients on the floor and ships artwork to customers. She can even arrange for meetings between artists and a collector who has purchased his or her art (with the exception of Lino Alviani, who lives in Italy.).
“If a collector purchases a piece I can make that happen.”
And, since all but one artist lives within an hour of the gallery, browsing customers just might run into them. In fact, when there’s a show, there’s a good chance of meeting them.
Revet also works with interior designers, architects and golf course architects around the country. Recently, Adriano Manocchia has been commissioned by the PGA to paint their courses.
“It’s nice because the course then has a major fine art piece to hang in their club house. They can also have a print line of that piece made to offer to the public, which becomes a revenue source for the club.”
Though she is devoted to her current nine artists, Revet is always open to working with more. She has three criteria: it needs to be “fine art”, it needs to speak to her and it needs to fit into the collection.
“If I believe in the piece and the artist, I can speak honestly to the collection, to the tourists who come in, to the couple who wants to take home a piece because they spent their anniversary here this weekend. I have to feel passionate about the work and the artist,” she said.
And that’s exactly how she feels about her current nine artists.
L. Wicks Fine Art Gallery is located at 468 Broadway, Second Floor, Saratoga Springs. Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-5pm; Friday & Saturday during track season 10am-10pm. For more information call 573.8017 or call www.lwicksfineart.com.