Archive for February, 2012

Sensational Cuisine, Suburban Hospitality and Love of Family Fuels Fusion

Meet Mark Crescenzo, General Manager and Host of Fusion Café and Wine Bar in Monroe, New York.  Opened in January of this year, the family-friendly restaurant offers high end and reasonably priced American cuisine featuring Latin and Asian influences.

“There are a lot of great restaurants in Monroe, but most are Chinese or Italian,” explains Mark.  “Nothing like this.  No place offering a good quality, freshly prepared, light meal at a great price.”

The food is prepared by Chef and Owner Kathy Egan who trained with Daniel Boulud and Peter Kelly.  Appreciating the qualities of the Chef/Owner, Mark comments, “Kathy’s food is very clean.  You can leave stuffed but it’s fresh and light and everything is cooked to order.”

While Kathy oversees the smooth running of Fusion’s kitchen, Mark ensures guests receive a warm greeting and excellent service.  “I like to host, I like to throw a good party – I want people leaving the restaurant to feel like they just left a really good house party.  When guests return a second time, we’ll remember their names, remember their drinks, remember if they are gluten-free.”

Mark’s career in restaurants began at the age of twelve when he was hired as a bus boy by Cranberries, a restaurant in his hometown of Stony Point, New York.  Four years later, Mark walked into Lynch’s, another nearby restaurant, seeking a job.

“Alice Lynch (the owner) handed me a Duke pad and told me to write down my name.  A week later, she called me in, gave me an apron and the Duke pad, and elevated me to waiter.”  Mark continued working in restaurants throughout high school and college.

A restaurant has served as a backdrop for important events in Marks’ life.  He met his future husband at The Hudson House in Nyack, New York.

Mark left the restaurant word to pursue a corporate career but gave up that job to raise the couple’s daughter.  He was not out of the workforce for very long.  “I was home for nine months.  At that time, real estate was taking off and I obtained my real estate license.  I worked in real estate for just under ten years.”

Their daughter was eight years old when the real estate market collapsed and Mark took a part-time job at Ravi, another local restaurant.  This is where Mark and Kathy met. The collaboration to create Fusion began.

Fusion is located on MillPond Parkway in Monroe.  The 800 square foot restaurant has a 15 person bar and intimate tables seating an additional 46.

The location underwent extensive renovations prior to opening which locals could monitor through the restaurant’s front windows.  “People would walk by, read the menu and give us a thumbs up through the window.  They couldn’t wait for us to open.”

The final result is a restaurant that feels urban despite its suburban location.  “When you walk in, everyone says they feel like they are in Manhattan.  It’s a very clean, very sleek environment.”  It’s a very good fit for Monroe’s population, young and old, families and singles, many of whom commute to work in New York City.

Fusion’s Grand Opening took place on January 27th and things have been busy.  New customers as well as returning diners are contributing to the restaurant’s immediate success.  The repeat business is encouraging to Mark.

“We’re not the only place serving good food, but diners will come back because of how we make them feel.  They will remember that.”

Mark is passionate about family and community and his work at Fusion reflects and feeds these passions.  “My family is involved in the restaurant.  They have all been there and been involved in this.  The community is becoming our family, guests are greeted on a first name basis, the diners are part of our extended family now.”

Sourtosweet had the opportunity to dine at Fusion.  The cuisine is delicious and beautifully presented.  The wait staff is friendly and professional.  If you arrive for an early dinner around 5 or 5:30, you watch as the tables and bars slowly fill with smiling, relaxed and satisfied diners enjoying their evening – exactly as Kathy and Mark intended.

To everyone involved in creating and operating Fusion, best wishes for continued success!

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

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Passing through Schenectady? Visit DCP

Meet Ben Sadler, owner of Downtown Custom Printwear.  Downtown Custom Printwear (“DCP”) provides exactly the kind of service that its name indicates.  DCP specializes in the creation of custom screen-printed and embroidered products manufactured in the company’s downtown Schenectady, New York location.

Ben graduated from Union College in the Spring of 2007 with no real plan for what to do next.  “I graduated and was sort of lost not knowing what I wanted to do with my future.”

He decided to stay in Schenectady.  “I made the decision to rent a house with my friend and drive an ice cream truck around for a summer.”  He was feeling very discouraged.  “Many of my friends seemed to have big important jobs already, investment banking in New York, that kind of thing.”

One thing Ben did know was that he wanted to be his own boss.  “I always knew I wanted to own my own business.”

While studying at Union, Ben and a friend began their own import/export printwear business.  The business ultimately failed, but it provided Ben his first exposure to printing.  Ben attributes the import/export venture’s failure to the business plan itself – specifically the export of the clothing for printing.

“The whole reason I started learning how to print myself was that the problem with the import/export venture was having the printing done overseas.  The overseas printing was the real problem with the business.”

Ben determined that success in the printwear business would require learning how to print himself.  In the summer of 2007, Ben purchased printing equipment on e-Bay.  When he wasn’t operating the ice cream truck, he was printing on his own in the attic of his apartment.  Just a few months later, Ben was filling t-shirt orders for local businesses and other organizations.

As Ben describes, his printwear business “just sort of snowballed.”

DCP’s clientele is varied.  “A lot of our bigger customers are yearly charity events where they’ll order thousands of thousands of shirts.  We do a lot of work with colleges, student organizations, athletic teams, some retail stuff, and clothing lines.”

Reinvestment in the company has helped DCP expand rapidly.  “I own all of my equipment,” Ben explains.  “I have put all of my money back into the business.”  DCP’s current printing equipment is a significant upgrade from Ben’s initial e-Bay purchases and the company has added embroidery machines to its arsenal.

Only one year into operations, the company moved from Ben’s attic apartment to a location on Erie Boulevard in downtown Schenectady.  In the Spring of 2010, Ben realized his business operations required more space.  The company expanded once again, occupying a second floor at the Erie Boulevard location.  DCP now occupies a space more than five times the size of the attic where it was born.

Ben currently shares DCP’s operating space with four employees and Cassius, DCP’s resident canine.  This is actually the smallest staff for DCP in some time, Ben explains, because DCP’s work is seasonal and big orders don’t tend to come in during the winter.

Ben admits that owning his own business is not EXACTLY as he had imagined.

“I always thought that when you own a business you get to kick back and only work when you feel like it and live the life.  First of all, I can’t do that because things will fall apart.  Second, when you’ve created something all by yourself you want to commit to it.  I didn’t think it would be this hard, but I also didn’t realize how important it would be.”

Ultimately, it is Ben’s passion for printing that keeps him going.  ““This is my entire life.  I’m definitely into it.  I’m striving to be a master of this trade.”

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet