With son at helm, Massey Furniture Barn hits half century [Read more...]
A Rome developer plans to build and open a Precision Wash car wash on a parcel at the Northland Plaza off Eastern Boulevard.
The city Planning Board approved site plans for Evergreen Family FLP, Rome, on Tuesday to build a 3,300-square-foot, five-bay automated car wash on a 0.74-acre parcel near the State CS Employees Federal Credit Union building. Precision Wash already runs automated car washes on Coffeen Street, Washington Street and Route 11 in Evans Mills.
Construction would begin before winter and the business is slated to open in April.
The Watertown City Council still must give a final approval; a public hearing is expected to be scheduled for next month.
The car wash would be open 24 hours, seven days a week and serve as many as 150 vehicles a day, said Timothy M. Hogan, the engineer representing Precision Wash.
Before the vote Tuesday, city officials and the Planning Board expressed concern that Northland Plaza’s parking lot needs an upgrade because of the additional traffic generated by the car wash. The parking lot lacks islands to control flow, they said. “The big thing is doing something with the parking lot,” said Justin Wood of the city’s Engineering Office.
In other action, the Planning Board approved site plans for an 1,800-square-foot, L-shaped expansion at the Quickslee convenience store at 1279 Coffeen St. Before the vote, planners voiced concerns about traffic, the lack of landscaping and the need for a sidewalk along that section of Coffeen Street. After a 90-minute discussion, engineer Christopher E. Boyes agreed to install a no-left-turn onto Coffeen Street at the entrance closest to Interstate 81. He also agreed to install the sidewalk and plant some trees to act as a buffer zone for Ontario Village apartments.
Council members are expected to vote on the site plans next month.
Sgt. Pepperoni’s NY Pizza — known years ago for its taco pizzas, jumbo-sized chicken wings and steak subs — is back in business after being shuttered for 12 years.
The pizzeria, which closed at the Paddock Arcade in 2001, reopened Sunday at the former Soluri’s Pizza building, 526 Factory St. The building was bought from Robert Soluri Jr. by co-owners Shannon M. Exford and Anthony M. Heaney this fall. The sale marked the end of an era for Soluri’s, which originally was opened in 1970 by Robert E. Soluri Sr. at 988 LeRay St.
Customers who were sad to see Sgt. Pepperoni’s leave are enthusiastic about its comeback, said Mrs. Exford, who launched the original business at 566 State St. in 1991 with her late husband, C. Louis Partridge. At that time, Mr. Heaney was an 18-year-old employee who delivered pizzas.
This summer Mr. Heaney, now 38, and Mrs. Exford, 42, decided to team up and revive Sgt. Pepperoni’s when they saw Soluri’s was for sale.
“It’s been like watching an old TV show for customers,” he said. “They’re going to watch it, even though it’s dated. We were around for a long time doing our own thing.”
Comments about the comeback have surfaced on the business’s Facebook page, said Mrs. Exford, who also owns accounting firm Exford & Exford on Mechanic Street.
“In the ’90s we had to earn our business and it built up slowly, whereas now, people are knocking on the door before we’re open,” she said. “Someone commented on Facebook that their dad used to order pizza at our State Street store. Now they’re going to do the same thing with their son.”
The eatery’s time-honored menu features “super jumbo wings” cooked in a charcoal barbecue pit; 10 uncooked wings weigh about two pounds. Pizza of the month specials will feature chicken cordon bleu and “Big Mac” varieties. The latter is Mrs. Exford’s latest creation.
“It’s made with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions,” she said. “We’ll never be the home of the $5 pizza here, because we take pride in using quality ingredients.”
Its dining area will stay open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, catering to night owls.
Mr. Soluri Sr., 81, said that while he is disappointed Soluri’s Pizza has closed, it enjoyed a strong 43-year run in the community. His son, Robert Jr., took over the family-owned business in the early 1990s.
“There were no shops delivering when I decided to open in 1969,” he said. “All of the news reporters got together and ordered pizzas from all of the shops and rated them in the Times, and only two were rated as halfway decent. So I knew I had a chance.”
The Soluri family took pride in making pizzas with quality ingredients, he said, and built a strong following of customers because of it.
“I used to have people order every night open, and they were very loyal customers,” Mr. Soluri said.
Sgt. Pepperoni’s is open from 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times
Try it for two weeks and you’ll be hooked, claims the owner of a new gym.
Messenger Crossfit, 270 State St., is not like traditional gyms. The open space includes ropes for climbing and chin-up bars and a pair of inverse bicycles. During the cross-fit session, clients are put through their paces, doing chin-ups, push ups, jumps and lifting weights using free weights and kettle bells.
Owners Gracey E. and Nathan A. Wike have always dreamed of owning a gym. When Mr. Wike, an Army captain, was transferred to Fort Drum, the couple decided to bring the message of elite fitness to the north country, hence the name Messenger Crossfit.
“When we moved to Carthage two and a half years ago we were disappointed because there was no CrossFit gym. Because we love CrossFit so much we thought that instead of being sad about not having a box to train at, we would build one,” Mrs. Wike said, noting a box is another name for a CrossFit gym. [Read more...]
Customers who walk through the Salmon Run Mall entrance by Regal Cinemas now are greeted by the metallic glint of 310-gallon fermentation tanks perched atop a 14-foot mezzanine at Skewed Brewing Co.
Co-owners Ryan and Cheryl Chaif, who opened the business with Mark P. Crandall, have hired about 50 part- and full-time employees.
The brew pub and eatery, which opened Tuesday next to the theater, will host a grand opening featuring live jazz music Oct. 18, 19 and 20. Those who wear hats or T-shirts purchased from Skewed Brewing or the Hops Spot, which the Chaifs also own in Sackets Harbor, during that weekend will receive drink specials.
Inspired by pubs from the Prohibition era, the five-barrel brewhouse, 46-foot stainless steel bar, cement floor and logo featuring skewed lines are intended to provide a distinctive restaurant experience, Mr. Chaif said. Its unusual name was inspired by a mathematical term in geometry referring to two nonparallel lines that don’t intersect.
Diners see more signs of the owners’ creativity when they sit down at the 12-foot-tall bar, where 48 craft beers are available on tap. Draft wines and specialty sodas soon will be debuted, Mr. Chaif said. Another feature installed along shelves behind the bar will be a rolling ladder system that moves along a track mounted to the wall, giving servers easy access to a collection of wine and spirits bottles.
“Most wine comes in a bottle and goes bad after you open it, but our wine will always be served fresh from kegs,” Mr. Chaif said Wednesday. “Our craft beer lineup has a couple of beers from each category, so you’ll find something whether you’re new or old” to the hobby.
The brewhouse will make beer using recipes crafted by the co-owners starting in 2014, Mr. Chaif said, when it plans to unveil its own line of homemade brews.
The 2,250-square-foot eatery, which seats about 100 diners, has a menu with an eclectic range of brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches and appetizers including salads, soups, chicken wings and baked pretzels. Its culinary team has expertise cooking duck, Mrs. Chaif said, which is featured with pizza, salads and sandwiches. She said one of the menu’s unique sandwiches, named “Hoi Ahn,” is made with pulled pork and flavored with cilantro and lime juice.
The recipe was inspired by a sandwich the Chaifs sampled during a trip to Italy.
The eatery’s location next to the theatre has been a bonus for couples with children who want to dine out, Mrs. Chaif said.
“We had two couples yesterday that came in and dropped their kids off at the theater to eat here,” she said. “There are a lot of corporate restaurants and family-style places in Watertown. But there aren’t many local restaurants that have a different style like us.”
Jean’s Beans marks 60 years dishing up a north country tradition [Read more...]
Small-business owners seeking to expand production and tap into commercial markets may now rent the 1,500-square-foot kitchen at the Madison Barracks complex to do so, thanks to a partnership between owner Lawler Development and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.
Extension staff helped Lawler acquire 20-C certification for the kitchen from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The certification will enable food processors to package, market and sell a range of products at bakeries, grocery stores and wholesale food manufacturers.
An open house to celebrate the launch of the shared-use kitchen will be hosted from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today, including guided tours of the facility with elected officials. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, will be in attendance.
The 1,500 square-foot kitchen includes gas ranges, ovens, refrigerated and dry storage space, and a loading dock. It’s available to rent 24 hours a day from Sunday through Thursday. The kitchen already is reserved on Fridays and Saturdays by DeVito’s Catering, Sackets Harbor.
The kitchen is expected to be especially useful for small-business owners who have special recipes for value-added products they’d like to launch, said Steven W. Ledoux, local foods community educator at the Jefferson County extension. That could include farmers interested in selling packaged vegetables and fruits to schools, for example, or small bakeries that need access to a large kitchen.
“For certain things, you can get home-kitchen certification as a business owner, but you’re only limited to a small amount,” Mr. Ledoux said. “Because it’s already certified by the state, this kitchen is a place where you can produce most products.”
The first tenant to rent the shared kitchen is the Spicy Wench, a Watertown-based business started by Christine E. Hoffman in 2011. Mrs. Hoffman, who will start using the Barracks kitchen this week, said the space will enable her business to expand production of pepper and fruit jellies sold at festivals and on its website, www.thespicywench.com. Mrs. Hoffman previously rented commercial space at The Farm House Kitchen in Sackets Harbor, but the space there became too small as the business increased sales.
“I now have dry good storage for all of my raw materials at this kitchen and don’t have to carry them back and forth from my house,” said Mrs. Hoffman, who plans to use the kitchen about 15 hours a week. She said she thinks the shared space will be in high demand among small agribusinesses.
“You have a lot of people that grow stuff and want to get into doing value-added products, and a lot of those things require a commercial kitchen,” she said. “This makes it possible for them to foray into the commercial market.”
Kevin J. Jordan, executive director of the Jefferson County extension, said launching the community-shared kitchen fits the organization’s goal of providing tools for small businesses involved in the local-foods movement. The extension secured a grant this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for about $96,000 to hire Mr. Ledoux, a beef farmer from Croghan. Mr. Ledoux, along with other staff members, organized several new efforts to bolster the local-foods movement in the region.
“The staff has worked to identify certain barriers, and not having a facility like this for food processors was one of them,” Mr. Jordan said. “Kitchens are a huge capital investment not every business can make, and this is an affordable space available to anyone. Our goal is to provide technical assistance to those who need it and let the private sector do what it does best — grow their own businesses.”
Corry J. Lawler, managing member of Lawler Development, said he is excited to put the Madison Barracks kitchen into good use. The developer is building a 90-unit apartment complex at the site.
“We think this is going to be a good thing for small businesses, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it’s successful,” Mr. Lawler said.
Hourly rates for tenants renting the kitchen from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. are $10 for those who use it 25 to 40 hours per week; $12 for 21 to 24 hours; $14 for 13 to 20 hours; $18 for four to 12 hours, and $22 for one to three hours. A $2 reduction in hourly rates will be applied for time scheduled outside peak hours.
Interested tenants should call Betsey Nichols from the state Ag and Markets Syracuse office at 487-0852 to schedule an appointment.
William Tinsley, owner of the Apollo Restaurant, a family-run fixture in the Watertown community for 25 years this August, credits his wife and business partner Michelle as well as a laser focus on consistency in service and quality food for much of the restaurant’s ongoing success.
“She is the fabric which holds our restaurant together,” Mr. Tinsley said. “Without her it is unlikely our business would have ever reached the level of success it enjoys today.”
The Apollo, known for its large selection of authentic Greek food, opened in the summer of 1988 in the location it still occupies today in Watertown’s Price Chopper Plaza, originally under the ownership of Mr. Tinsley’s sister and her husband, who then passed on the reins to Mr. Tinsley’s nephew and his wife before Mr. Tinsley and his wife took over six years ago.
Mariana O. Hiotis, daughter of the original owner Constantino Hiotis and a student at Syracuse University, started bussing at the restaurant when she was about 14 and currently waitresses over breaks from school or as needed. She said the Apollo was her father’s “pride, joy and second marriage for 18 years; the restaurant continues to be a family-run business “in the true sense of the word,” she said.
“I grew up in that restaurant under the swinging kitchen doors to ask my daddy for something to eat to swinging those doors open myself to delivering my order to the cooks for someone else to eat,” Ms. Hiotis said. “It’s far more than just a restaurant to me; it’s a second home.”
The Tinsley family’s descendants came to America from Thessaloniki, Greece, a region known for culinary excellence, and many of The Apollo’s recipes draw on several generations of family traditions; although over the years the Apollo has adopted some American menu options, it makes nearly all of its food on premise, Mr. Tinsley said.
Variety is also key — the Apollo’s menu consists of more than 100 Greek and American dishes, including various sandwiches, burgers, gluten-free options and breakfast items. It also serves 14 different varieties of gyro sandwiches, the restaurant’s most popular item, though the traditional one made with a blend of beef and lamb, topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions and feta cheese and wrapped in a warm pita, is the biggest seller, Mr. Tinsley said.
The Apollo takes great pride in its Mousaka, the “national dish of Greece,” which is made on the premises and consists of layers of sautéed eggplant, potato, ground beef and béchamel, served with a topping of Apollo’s marinara sauce, Mr. Tinsley said.
Ms. Hiotis agreed, adding that the Mousaka takes the Apollo’s “passionate chefs to a whole new level producing something this delicious, time-consuming and authentic.”
“One bite, and you’ll know why it’s the national dish of Greece,” she said.
WHERE: 1283 Arsenal St., Price Chopper Plaza, Watertown
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
PHONE: (315) 788-3569
The Apollo also sells numerous bulk items, including stuffed grape leaves, pita bread, tzatziki sauce, Greek salad dressing, hummus, feta cheese, gyro meat, baklava and Greek coffee.
Two of the market’s most popular sellers are homemade tzatziki sauce, a cucumber-based dressing that the restaurant makes “non-stop, sunrise to sunset” to keep up with demand and baklava, a Greek pastry made with walnuts, almonds, honey and cinnamon and wrapped in phyllo dough, Mr. Tinsley said.
Given the restaurant’s location in a strip-mall type plaza and the “now saturated marketplace,” Mr. Tinsley said celebrating 25 years means the Apollo has beaten the odds; independent restaurants in similar locations often last no more than a few short years, he said.
“I think we’ve been able to survive because we continue to do what we’ve been doing from the beginning, and that is providing exceptional products and customer service to a loyal and solid customer base,” he said.
Ms. Hiotis added that the owners are cautious when choosing staff and ensure that all employees are friendly, genuine and caring.
“Everyone from the wait staff to the dishwasher cares about the restaurant, and it shows,” she said. “Everything combined creates a homey atmosphere, and it makes it a comfortable place to enjoy a meal and to work. I believe this is why we have so many regular customers.”
It seems that the dedication to service hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. On Aug. 16, the Apollo posted a picture of Ms. Hiotis to its Facebook page holding a $100 bill with a caption that read in part: “Apollo waitress Mariana Hiotis receives a $100 tip from her first customer today. Speaks volumes for her level of customer service.”
Among the commenters, one of whom wanted to know how much the bill was ($30, Ms. Hiotis responded), another wrote simply “She is the best waitress around.”
To celebrate the 25-year milestone, the Apollo rolled back its entire menu pricing by 25 percent on Aug. 16 and offered its signature baklava for only 25 cents. Mr. Tinsley said the celebrations, which also included a live radio broadcast, “packed” the restaurant with a line out the door.
“It was most gratifying to see so many familiar faces, and to hear the many well wishes extended to our staff by customers,” he said. The Apollo’s regulars, many of whom have been coming since it opened its doors, sustain the business and are considered “part of our family in the truest sense of the word,” he added. And, to give back, the Apollo gives discounts to military personnel, as well as all law enforcement, fire and emergency medical personnel. It also includes contributions to a number of local causes and charities in its monthly budget, Mr. Tinsley said.
As in all businesses, and in the restaurant business particularly, Mr. Tinsley says, continual re-invention and improvement is key. To that end, this fall the Apollo will undergo the most extensive renovation project since its inception, including a new color scheme, new fixtures and various other “surprises” that Mr. Tinsley said the restaurant is waiting to unveil.
Leah Buletti is a staff writer for NNY Magazines. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-2381.
THE INITIAL IDEA
Lake Ontario Pilates owner Jennifer L. Dean is far from her home state of Tennessee, the only place she lived before to moving to the north country last summer.
But thanks to abundant community support, she’s been able to create her own home in Sackets Harbor, launching and single-handedly running a thriving exercise studio on Main Street in the village.
Ms. Dean decided to open the studio after moving to be closer to her boyfriend, a soldier stationed at Fort Drum whom she met through her brother, who also is stationed on post.
She opened the studio on Oct. 15. [Read more...]