Monday, April 20, 2015

NYSERDA's small business efficiency program helps local businesses

By Lori Pelersi

Refrigeration represents a significant cost for florists. 
Deb Hall wanted help shouldering the costs of her monthly energy bills at Danker Florist, and that's why she got in touch with NYSERDA.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Small Commercial Energy Efficiency Program helps small businesses cut the costs of their energy bill through a no-cost energy assessment.

A consultant in the region will come to the business and assess the conditions of the heating and cooling system, lighting, hot water system, insulation, and more. They will create a report of their findings and how much the installation will cost and save the business owner. Low cost interest finance options are available and the consultant will explain the different options and help with the decision making.

In past studies, businesses have saved on average about $5,880 per year with a payback period of about 5.2 years.

In order to qualify for the no-cost assessment through the Small Commercial Energy Efficiency Program, your business must be considered a small business or a not-for-profit organization in New York State with 10 or fewer full-time employees and average annual electric demand under 100 kW.

If you are interested in the Small Commercial Energy Efficiency Program through NYSERDA, check out their website:

Spring into art with Central Avenue's "Drawing Up Central" contest

Albany Police Officer Brian Hawley assists youth from
Equinox Inc. with their mural of Simba from The Lion King.
Each spring, artists use chalk to draw up the whole neighborhood--and that's a good thing. 

"Drawing Up Central, Central Avenue's annual sidewalk chalk art contest, is a chance for the community to come together, and celebrate the commitment and creativity of our members," says Anthony Capece, Executive Director of the Central Avenue Business Improvement District. "We recruit artists, community organizations, students, anyone with a passion for public art."

The contest has been taking place since 2013, and is now an official part of the City of Albany's Annual Tulip Festival. This year's event will take place on Saturday, May 9th, 2015 from 10am-2pm on Central Avenue between N. Lake Avenue and Quail Street in Albany. Contestants will be competing for $500 in cash and prizes.

“It’s a fun event that creates good connections between businesses and the community,” says Capece. “Every artist in the area should be signing up for this event!”

This year, as in years past, the Central BID will partner with Equinox to present the event. Youth from Equinox will compete in the contest, and they will also help staff this special event. “We’re so excited about this event, and its potential to give the youth we serve a positive outlet for creativity, leadership, and service to their community,” says Dorothy Cucinelli, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Equinox, Inc.

Last year, the contest brought out the best in people, with contestants from all over the region turning out right on Central Avenue's sidewalks to create inspired artwork and build community. Each contestant received complimentary chalk and T-shirts as part of their $10 entry fee. The subject matter was wide-open, and judges marveled at their creativity. They created murals about a range of subjects, including superheroes, spring, civil servants, fishtanks, Disney characters, and astronauts, and enjoyed pizza and desserts from Pies on Wheels and The Crisp Cannoli.

This year's contest will take place between N. Lake and Quail Street on Central Avenue. Known as Central Avenue's Midtown Grid, this area boasts four performing arts venues and nine international restaurants, and is quickly becoming known for its unique entertainment options.

If you are interested competing in this year's Drawing Up Central, please contact the Central BID office at (518) 462-4300 or go on our website and register.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Central Avenue BID reissues Central Avenue Dining Guide

Torta at Mexican Market on Central Avenue By Jamel Mosely, 
Mel eMedia,
The Central Avenue BID will reissue its popular Central Avenue Dining Guide this spring, completely revised and updated.

"The guide has been so popular. It's a great way to introduce people to all the restaurants on Central Avenue. The second edition has been updated with the 9 new restaurants that have joined the Avenue since the first one came out. We think it's going to be great," says Anthony Capece, Executive Director for the Central Avenue BID. 

This full-color glossy 24-page guide provides a complete listing of the district’s restaurants and grocery stores, alongside feature articles. The new edition will feature two new pieces called "World Food," about Afro-Caribbean cuisine and "Eating Well," about healthy eating on Central Avenue. It also offers new artwork from a talented local photographer, Jamel Mosely, principal at Mel eMedia.

Chef Josh Coletto's frittata at the monthly Rock N Roll Brunch
hosted at The Low Beat By Jamel Mosely, Mel eMedia,

The guide will be distributed at tourist destinations and hotels throughout the region, including the Albany Heritage Visitors Center, Albany International Airport, the Washington Avenue Armory, The Linda, the Spectrum 8, and City Hall. The CBID also hands out the guides at all different kinds of events throughout the year, including "All Around Albany," "Drawing Up Central," and city events like "Tulip Fest" and "Alive@Five."

The second edition will also include a pull-out guide for The Midtown Grid, detailing venues and programming in Central Avenue's emerging arts district. The Midtown Grid booklet includes beautiful illustrations by artist Marcus Kwame Anderson, creator of the Snow Daze comic book, and great performance photography by Bryan Lasky, a frequent contributor to UpstateLIVE.

The Low Beat burger By Jamel Mosely, Mel eMedia,

Central Avenue has become known as a destination for canny, one-of-a-kind entertainment options. The street offer great live music performances in intimate settings, outstanding international cuisine, and it also opens its doors to a wide array of local artists, including the Albany Poets, Urban Guerilla Theatre, Upstate Independent Filmmakers Network, Tsehaya and Co. dance theater, and the Pine Hills Review. These groups produce a refreshing array of engaging entertainment every week, right in the Midtown Grid, the area of Central Avenue between Ontario and Robin.

For more information or if you would like to place an ad in the Central Avenue Dining Guide, please contact the Central Avenue Business Improvement District at (518) 462-4300.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Globe trotting palates: 2nd Annual Tastes of the World celebrates Central Avenue's international cuisine

Terra will bring their hearts of palm cake with house remoulade to Tastes of
World next week. 
We know it's hard to satisfy a globe-trotting palate, but on Central Avenue you can do just that. You can find amazing food from 19 different countries in just three short miles. Samosas, sushi, shrimp rolls--whatever you're craving, you know you can find it on Central Avenue. And next week, the International Center of the Capital Region is going to make it even easier for you, and move all that delicious food to one room. 

On Thursday, March 26th from 5:30pm-8pm, please join the International Center of the Capital Region for TASTES of the World: the 2nd Annual International Food Tasting Festival, at the Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, located at 339 Central Avenue. Tickets can be purchased here. 

Umana Restaurant and Wine Bar will bring a selection of
This year's event is larger than last year's and includes a number of new Central Avenue businesses. Participating restaurant/producers include: Champy’s Jamaican and American Cuisine,  Flavors of India, Grappa ’72, Irie Vybez, Nino’s Deli and Subs, Nut Zez, Pie in the Sky Bakery, R&G Cheesemakers, Sukothai, Terra Albany, Umana Restaurant and Wine Bar,  We Do Fondue, and Yono’s. Restaurant. They will be joined by the Albany Pump Station and NYS vintners, Brotherhood Winery (America’s Oldest Winery) and Capoccia Vineyards and Winery. 

The event will honor Professor/CAV Philip J. DiNovo, President/Director of the American Italian Heritage Association and the Italian Cultural Center and Museum for his nearly forty years of dedication to Italian-American culture. To help celebrate, the Hon. Vice Consul Comm. Stefano Acunto will be in attendance on behalf of the Consul General of Italy and representing the Italian Government.  

The Emcee for the evening will be Trishna Begam, Anchor & Reporter from News10. Live entertainment will include : acapella singer Rafi Topalian, Henna painting, Bagpiper Connor Munro, and the Veena Chandra & Devesh Chandra Duo. There will also be a Live and a Bucket Auction taking place during the event. 

TASTES of the World: the 2nd Annual International Food Tasting Festival, will take place Thursday, March 26, 2015 from 5:30pm-8pm at the Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, located at 339 Central Avenue, Tickets which are $50 for general admission and $35 for young professional (35 years and younger),  are available through WAMC at or by calling ICCR at (518) 708-7608. Proceeds from the event will benefit ICCR’s educational and community initiatives.

Friday, March 13, 2015

You'd have to be 'irrational' not to celebrate Pi Day

By Lori Pelersi

Pi Day Awesomeness at Pie in the Sky Bakery
Since the big thing happening in Albany this weekend is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, everyone has forgotten that Saturday is also Pi Day! 

For those of you who don’t know, I was a math major in college, so obviously I think Pi Day is pretty awesome. Pi Day occurs every year on March 14 (or 3/14) since Pi is equal to 3.141592653…If you are a little rusty on your math skills, I’ll help you out. Pi is a number that goes on forever but it never repeats itself, which is also called an irrational number, often represented as π. It is used to calculate the area and circumference of circles as well as determine the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. I could go, on but I digress...

On Pi Day, people get together and eat pie while discussing Pi and other math related items.

So when I heard that Pie in the Sky Bakery was located at 314 Central Avenue, the math geek in me took over and my eyes lit up. “That just made my day” I said to a colleague who was filling me in. Coincidence? Intentional nerdiness? Was there a baking math nerd out there? I had to go Pie in the Sky Bakery to find out more.

When I arrived I looked in their display case, thinking there would be pies everywhere. There was no pie… 

I introduced myself to the very friendly staff and explained that we were doing a Pi Day promotion and going to all our businesses that sell pie, taking pictures of staff holding the pies, and putting it on our social media pages. The staff members seemed game, if lacking in pie. They went into their bakery cases, but the closest we could get was three turnovers. Handpies, I thought. Okay.

As we set up the shot, I asked them casually if they knew about tomorrow's illustrious history, but it was clear from their faces they had no idea what I was talking about. It was like I was speaking German. Or math.

Their lack of interest couldn't diminish my enthusiasm. Since I was still so excited about the whole situation, I started rambling on and on about Pi and how “punny” this is! I noticed that both staff members had polite smiles on their faces, the ones you usually give to people who you think are a little crazy but you don’t want them to know you’re thinking that. 

When I finished my schpiel about pi vs. pie, I asked them if they realized that company that they work at is "Pie" in the Sky Bakery, located at 314 Central Avenue. (Pi? 3.14? Get it?) I waited for their faces to light up, the way mine had. I waited for the bolt of lightning, that sheer excitement that only math can give. I was destined for disappointment. No, they said. They hadn't realized that.

Wasn't it an amazing coincidence, I insisted, still excited. Sure, they said, with a shrug. Quite a coincidence.

I tried to explain why and how this should be a huge deal to them. Had the owner ever thought about removing the “e” in Pie to really make it more “punny," I asked. Marketing to math geeks? Ka-ching. 

After chuckling a little bit, with the polite smiles still plastered to their faces they said No. They would would have to think about that.  

I took a couple shots of the turnovers, the address outside, and went on my way, a little disappointed that no one is a math nerd like I am, but still proud that there is an awesome math pun right here on Central Avenue.

Pie in the Sky Bakery is located at 314 Central Avenue. They serve breakfast and lunch, and offer catering for events. They make delicious pie, upon request. For more information, please call the restaurant at 463-7355.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Central Avenue Water Main Leak Repaired

A water main that burst on Central Avenue Sunday night has been repaired.

"Thanks to the Albany Water Department for working so hard. Great job fixing the water main," says Anthony Capece, Executive Director for the Central Avenue Business Improvement District.

Crews worked around the clock beginning Sunday to bring the leak under control. The main was repaired Wednesday.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Parade Day on Central Avenue -- the fun starts here

Saturday, the United Irish Societies of the Capital District will usher in the 65th Annual Albany St. Patrick's Day Parade, and festivities will kick off right here on Central Avenue.

Blessed Sacrament Church will host the St. Patrick's Day Parade Mass at 9am, with a reception following. 

Then, the Parade steps off at Quail and Central at 2pm sharp, and our businesses will be ready for it! They have a full roster of bands booked, plus drink and food specials that will keep customers rolling all day.

Plus, each venue will offer a reserved parade viewing area in front of the business, so that you can be sure that even if you step away from the curb to grab some music or beverages inside, you will always be able to return to your front row seats to see the parade when you are done.

Here's a snapshot of what each business has planned:

337 Central Avenue
Live music featuring the Monk, Hotel View, and more! Commences at 2pm. “The parade starts here.”

335 Central Avenue
Live music featuring Pony in the Pancake, starting at 2pm. That night, beginning at 8pm, Loud Punk Records presents CHANNEL 3, Aggressive Response, Capitle, Scuzz, and Teenage Shred. The kitchen will be open, serving delish food all afternoon.

77 Central Avenue
Doors open at 11am in the pub and 12:30pm in the club. Early bird drink specials, plus enjoy corned beef sandwiches and hotdogs all afternoon, served up with a good helping of Irish music.

76 Central Avenue
Kegs and Eggs kicks off at 9am that morning, and the dance floor will be open before and after the parade! Enjoy drink specials all day.

Paint it green! It’s Paint Nite at Bobby T’s at 1:30pm and 4:30, and at 4pm, Erin Harkes, the well-known singer/songwriter from upstate New York will take the stage and perform original music from her four albums.  

Central Avenue Water Line in Albany Still Being Repaired

Albany Water Department crews are still working to shut off water leading to a main line break at 526 Central Avenue, which occurred about noon on Sunday. Water main is expected to be fixed by the end of the day Monday, March 9. Nobody has lost service, but the increased water flow through the pipes has stirred up sediments, causing some discoloration of water in parts of the West Hill neighborhood. While the water is not contaminated, people are recommended to hold off washing clothes until the water runs clear again.

The repairs are expected to be completed by end of day Monday, and drivers in the area between Main and Partridge are asked to slow down where crews are working.

“These lines and valves are old—dating back to 1876—and the valves are difficult to operate and close completely,” said Water Department Commissioner Joe Coffey. “But our crews have been working around the clock to get the lines repaired.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Orlo Goes Global: The fifth annual hair show is a work of art

Lichtenstein-inspired makeup
         Cosmetology students try their hand at makeup inspired
by art movements.

The fifth annual Orlo Goes Global--or OGG5 as those in the know are calling it--promises to be the best yet. This year's hair stylists and make-up artists are taking their cues from famous works of art, producing a runway show that will really "draw" a crowd. 

"It's like a fashion show, but for hair and makeup," says Angela Caputo, Creative Director at the Orlo. "This is a fabulous avant garde runway show, and it's right here in Albany." The show, which features student stylists from the Orlo School of Hair Design and Cosmetology, is unusual because it offers students a taste of the industry, and also gives them an opportunity to donate their skills to charity, she says.

The students will work with alumni to create around 50 different looks inspired by the five artists movements: Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Pop Art, and Op Art. Looks will integrate hair and makeup design, and students are already brushing up on their techniques for weeks, so that they can achieve truly artistic results.

During a recent practice session at the Orlo, students watched as Genn Shaughnessy, Professional Makeup Artist at MUAH! turned instructor Jackie Bushnell into figure right out of Roy Lichtenstein frame. She also coached them through Op Art and Impressionism. 

This year's show will benefit the Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization that Orlo has long supported. Each year, students donate their time and skills to the foundation's "Day of Beauty" events, where ill children are paired with stylists who give them the royal treatment. "We want our students to understand that it's important to give back to the community," says Alice Caputo, Director at the Orlo. This year, funds raised at the Orlo Goes Global will go to help the foundation further its mission of improving the life and health of kids around the world. 

This year, music is provided by DJ Trumastr, one of the Capital Region's hottest DJs. Hors'd'ouevres, photo booth, raffles, silent auction, vendor tables, and cash bar will add to the party atmosphere. The big event will take place at the New York State Museum. 

Orlo Goes Global, A Hair Show, will take place, Saturday, March 21 at 7pm at the New York State Museum, 222 Madison Avenue in Albany. Doors open at 7pm, show begins at 7:30. Tickets are $10 in advance, and they can be purchased at the door. For more information, call the Orlo 459-7832.

March is blue: Central Avenue goes blue to raise awareness about cancer

JAMZ 96.3 helped with outreach at last year's Main Streets Go Blue event. 
If you're seeing blue this March, you're not alone. 

Central Avenue and other prominent main streets in the Capital Region are turning blue in observance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. 

"Each year, Central Avenue participates in this initiative because we know screenings save lives,” says Anthony Capece, Executive Director, Central Avenue Business Improvement District. “Our businesses come together with special displays, lighting, and signage, to turn Central Avenue blue and raise awareness about the importance of early detection."

This year, St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP), the region’s largest health system – in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health Cancer Services Program (CSP) of Albany and Rensselaer Counties, and major Capital Region businesses – including Price Chopper, CDTA and the Central Avenue BID (Business Improvement District) – is urging everyone to “Go Blue.”

“Each year in New York State, nearly 10,000 people develop colorectal cancer, and more than 3,000 New Yorkers die from this disease,” states Arthur L. Sunkin, MD, Chief of Medical Oncology/Hematology, St. Peter’s Health Partners Cancer Care Program.

“However, a large number of New Yorkers are still not aware of their risk and many are not being screened at recommended intervals,” adds Dr. Sunkin, “but colorectal cancer often can be prevented. Regular screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.”

All men and women age 50 and older are urged to get screened. While the disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are age 50 or older. Additionally, those with a personal or family history of colon polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum) or colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer and may require more frequent tests.

Community outreach events are being held at several locations around the Capital Region. Uninsured individuals age 50 and older will be able to pick up easy to do take-home kits, free of charge, to screen for colon cancer. The locations include:

  • Hoosick Street Kickoff: Wednesday, Mar. 4, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.Brunswick Price Chopper, Hoosick St., Troy
  • Central Avenue Kickoff: Friday, Mar. 6, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.Westgate Price Chopper, Central Ave., Albany
  • St. Peter’s Hospital Event: Monday, Mar. 9, 12 – 3 p.m.St. Peter’s Hospital, Main Street Lobby, So. Manning Blvd., Albany
  • St. Mary’s Massry Center Event: Wednesday, Mar. 18, 4 – 6 p.m.Hoosick St., Troy

Additionally, Albany and Rensselaer Cancer Services Program staff will be riding various CDTA busesto help educate riders about getting screened and to hand out kits. CDTA will also host events on: Colonie Station (Central Avenue side of Colonie Center); and on Uncle Sam BusPlus Station (next to Dinosaur BBQ), Troy.

“We are happy to continue our partnership with the Cancer Services Programs of Albany and Rensselaer Counties for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month,” states David M. Stackrow, CDTA Chairman of the Board. “Getting screened is vitally important when it comes to maintaining good health and we are glad to help those who may otherwise not have access to cancer screenings.”

In addition to all the screening events, the Albany and Rensselaer County Partnerships will be decorating Central Avenue in Albany and Hoosick Street in Troy to help raise awareness.

All health insurance plans, including plans participating in the New York State of Health, cover colorectal cancer screening with no patient cost sharing, copayment or coinsurance, regardless of a yearly deductible.

For more information about screening events around the Capital Region, please call (518) 525-8680, or visit To find a CSP Partnership near you, or to learn more about Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month events in your area, please call 1-8-66-442-CANCER (2262), or visit Additional information about colorectal cancer can be found at the New York State Department of Health’s website or at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at