Items tagged with 'business'

Here are the three finalists for the 2018 AOA Startup Grant

AOA Startup Grant 2018 entries

The hardest part of the $2,500 AOA Startup Grant contest is narrowing down the field to three finalists.

That was especially true this year because there were a bunch of compelling projects. If we had five spots in the final it might not have been enough.

Even so, we had to settle on three -- two picked through crowd voting, one by the editors.

And here are the finalists for this year's AOA Startup Grant, sponsored by SEFCU, CDPHP, and the College of Saint Rose.

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The Albany Hardware & Iron Co.

Albany Hardware and Iron building 1927

That image above is from a 1927 catalog and it depicts a building in Albany that still stands to this day. You totally know this building. Recognize it?

Look a little closer. Yep, now you probably see it.

It's the U-Haul building on Broadway in Albany, the one that stands tucked between 787 and the river, with the truck on the roof.

The building was originally the home of the Albany Hardware & Iron Co. Flipping through its almost-century-old catalog we couldn't help but think of Amazon, the dying embers of Sears, and the ongoing effort to get stuff to people when they want it.

Also: It's just really fun to gawk at all the stuff for sale in the old catalog.

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A look around Bard & Baker, the new board game cafe in downtown Troy

Bard and Baker The News Troy

The board game cafe Bard & Baker is now officially open in Troy. It's in the street-level retail space at the corner of Broadway and 5th Ave in The News, the redeveloped old Troy Record building.

The cafe has more than 400 games board games that you can play all day for as long as you like for a $5 cover. (You can even leave and come back the same day.) There's also a menu that includes all sorts of beverages (coffee, teas, soda, juice, beer, wine, cocktails), along with sandwiches, snacks, and pastries.

Here's a look around the new place...

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There's a free law clinic event coming up to assist small businesses

Legal Project small business legal clinic poster 2018-OctoberThis could be helpful if you're a business owner or starting a new project: A coalition of local groups are offing a clinic for small business law October 11. Event blurbage:

If you are an entrepreneur and have questions about what type of entity you should form for your business; what types of contracts you need for your business; what to look for in a commercial lease; or how to protect your ideas, products, and brands, consider signing up for a FREE brief legal consultation with an attorney. ...
We will have attorneys with experience in business, corporate, intellectual property, alcohol & beverage, and real estate law to provide free brief legal consultations.

The orgs backing the clinic are The Legal Project, the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, the Community Development Clinic at Albany Law School, and the Institute of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development at UAlbany.

Consultations are via appointment only -- call 518-435-1770 to claim a spot.

Crowd voting is now open for the 2018 AOA Startup Grant! You can help pick the finalists!

AOA Startup Grant 2018 billboard entries

Voting is now open for the 2018 AOA Startup Grant! Here's the ballot!

Three finalists will be chosen to compete for the $2,500 prize. Crowd voting will pick two of the finalists, the AOA editors will pick the third. Voting closes October 11 at noon.

The finalists will make presentations to a panel of judges on October 25, and the panel will pick the winner.

There are a bunch of very strong contenders this year. It might be the best field we've ever had, full of interesting projects. Go have a look at the applications.

Big thanks to SEFCU, CDPHP, and the College of Saint Rose for sponsoring this year's contest!

Silver Fox Salvage is closing

Silver Fox Salvage interior

This is sad to hear: Silver Fox Salvage -- the wonderfully eclectic collection of salvaged architectural and furniture pieces Albany's Warehouse District -- is closing.

From a post on its Facebook page this morning:

To our loyal customers and friends. We regret that after all these years Silver Fox will be closing. We are forced to do this to settle the estate of our founder, Fred Shapiro.
The building and all its contents most be sold. If you previously had some lighting or other pieces you had your eye on please stop in and make a discounted purchase. We we will be open our usual hours 10:30 until 6:00 but closed on Monday. We will still be taking custom orders for tables, vanities and all other pieces.
Please share this with friends and we hope to see you soon.
Thanks, The crew at Silver Fox

Fred Shapiro, who was also an oncologist, started Silver Fox in 2007 with Camille Gibeau. He died in 2013. As Gibeau remembered him then: "He could always turn nothing into something. And he had many interests -- he played blues harp, was a motorcycle racer, had a huge book selling business for a while -- even played on a unicycle basketball team."

Silver Fox wasn't just a repository of salvaged items. Its crew also helped turn reclaimed materials into new pieces for local establishments such as City Beer Hall in Albany and the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy, and created custom furniture for clients.

The warehouse on Learned Street will "close when the building contents and lumber are gone," according to its Facebook account.

A look around the Maiden House residential + retail conversion in downtown Albany

Maiden House downtown Albany

That latest project in the ongoing shift of downtown Albany toward being a residential neighborhood: Maiden House.

It includes 18 apartments and a handful of potentially interest retail spaces at the corner of North Pearl Street and Maiden Lane in a building that had been vacant or underused for many years. And it's backed by development company that's becoming a key player in the transformation of downtown.

So, let's have a look around...

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A look around the new Bull Moose Club coworking space in downtown Albany

Bull_Moose_Club_2.jpg

Another sign that coworking is starting to catch on in the Capital Region: Downtown Albany now has not one, not two, but three of the flexible shared work spaces.

The latest to open is the Bull Moose Club, right across State Street from the Capitol. (Yep, it has a bust of Teddy Roosevelt.)

As the location suggests, the space is focusing on a crowd of lobbyists, advocates, trade associations, and startups. And it's backed by the same people who created the Troy Innovation Garage coworking space in downtown Troy.

As with other similar setups, Bull Moose offers a typical menu of office services -- desks, internet, printers, mailboxes, conference rooms, and booths for making phone calls. And it has memberships that allow for the occasional drop in at a first-come-first-sit desk or table, as well as private offices available for rent by the month.

Here's a look around the new space, along with a few questions for its founder, Tom Nardacci -- about coworking, other cities, and changing the culture of the Capital Region.

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Ecovative's mushroom root tech is now being used to make (not) leather

Bolt Threads mylo bag kickstarter

This is wild: Ecovative has partnered with a company in California to use its mushroom root tech to make a material that looks remarkably like leather.

That company -- Bolt Threads -- now has a Kickstarter for the first consumer product (tote bags) made with the not-leather, which it's calling Mylo. (That's one of the bags above in the photo.) The Kickstarter went live this week and is almost halfway to its $40,000 goal.

From a Bolt Threads FAQ:

We use corn stalks and supplemental nutrients to feed and grow our mycelium. We precisely control growth conditions like temperature and humidity to encourage the mycelium to grow upward and self-assemble into an organized mat of interconnected cells. Their connections give the material strength. We then use a natural tanning process and compress the mat to be as thin or thick as we'd like the final material to be. At this point the mycelium is no longer growing. The final step is to imprint any desired pattern, which gives us the final material. ...
Our friends at Ecovative pioneered this mycelium fabrication technology, which literally grew out of the great work they've been doing in creating soft flexible foams. We were blown away, and thrilled when they agreed to allow us to help develop it into a commercially viable new material. We've established a long-term partnership with Ecovative to optimize this technology and put processes in place to produce commercial-ready Mylo™ material and bring products to market that consumers will love.

As you know, Ecovative was started by two RPI grads about a decade ago and it's now based in Green Island. It uses what are essentially mushroom roots to bind leftover agricultural materials into various environmentally-friendly packing materials and fiber boards. The tech has gotten the company international attention, and it's been used in all sorts of projects.

photo via Bolt Threads Kickstarter

The AOA Startup Grant is back this fall -- with a $2,500 prize -- and the time to apply is now!

AOA Startup Grant 2018 billboard announce

The AOA Startup Grant is back for 2018!!!

This fall we'll again be awarding $2,500 in cash to help a new local project get off the ground, or take an existing small business idea to the next level. This year's contest is sponsored by SEFCU, CDPHP, and the College of Saint Rose.

The startup grant has been one of our favorite AOA events because it's also an opportunity to get a look at some of the good, early-stage ideas that are in progress around the area and shine some attention on them.

And of course, as in years past, you will get to help decide who gets the funding through the crowd vote for two of the finalists.

So we're excited to get things started.

Here's what we're looking for -- and how to apply...

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Follow up: The Dutch Udder

Dutch Udder ice cream two scoops in a cup

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year (or so).

Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley started making ice cream as a side project -- creating fun flavors for family and friends. Slowly and methodically, they've turned a hobby, and an incredible talent for creating inventive flavors, into a successful small business: The Dutch Udder.

Flavors found on their ever-changing menu include Nine Pin Cider Sorbet, Grasshopper, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Rice Crispy Treat ice cream.

At first, they sold ice cream from a cart at markets and festivals and special events. And three years ago the then-fledgling business was also finalist in the AOA Startup Grant contest. Since then, Jeff and Kehmally have opened a storefront on River Street in downtown Troy and they've captured awards for their Philly Vanilla and for their other inventive flavors.

Jeff talked with us about their experience in the ice cream biz so far.

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Follow up: The Mop & Bucket Improv Theater

MopCo_AmySchumer.jpg

Amy Schumer dropped in at MopCo last week for a pop-up show

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year (or so).

Just over a year ago, The Mop & Bucket Company -- the Capital Region's longest running improv troupe -- took a leap of faith. Troupe founder Michael Burns and his wife and partner Kat Koppett purchased an abandoned firehouse on North Jay Street in Schenectady, renovated it, and created the MopCo Improv Theater.

They had hopes of creating not just a place for improv performance, but a community space for all sorts of performance, classes, and a hub for creativity. A year later they're creating new improv formats, playing to sold-out houses, expanding their repertoire of classes, and hosting a wide variety of performers from improv to storytellers to sketch comedy.

Oh, and last week, Amy Schumer paid them a visit for a sold out pop-up show.

Michael Burns, who's also MopCo's artistic director, talked with us about this last year of making things up.

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Follow up: Radix Center

Radix Center Stacy Pettigrew and Scott Kellogg 2018-July

Stacy Pettigrew and Scott Kellogg outside the greenhouse at Radix.

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year.

A little more than seven years ago Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew won the very first AOA Start Up Grant competition with their plans for an aquaculture to grow fish and watercress at the [then] new Radix Center for Ecological Sustainability. They were in the midst of constructing an 18-foot greenhouse on a corner of Grand Street in Albany's South End.

Almost a decade later the greenhouse is overflowing with plants, they're selling fish and watercress, running a composting business, raising animals, partnering with neighborhood organizations, and teaching students and city dwellers about their connection to nature -- all while raising two daughters and working on their PhDs.

And still, they found time to talk with us about how things at Radix are going.

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Follow up: Franklin Alley Social Club

Frank_&_Heidi_luau_2018.jpg

Heidi and Frank Sicari -- doing what they love

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Four years ago Heidi and Frank Sicari started renovating the old Knights of Columbus building on 3rd Street in Troy. They've since turned the place into a popular venue for weddings and events called Takk House.

And six months ago they opened a new venture in the basement of Takk: the Franklin Alley Social Club, with a bar, shuffleboard, bocce ball, and old-school games.

They've made the leap from full-time jobs to full-time business owners and they've even managed to hire a staff. So, how's it going?


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Follow up: Delaware Supply

Delaware Supply 2018-July exterior

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Delaware Supply opened just before Christmas last year next to the Spectrum in the space that had been a series of coffee shops.

The craft beer bar is owned by Colin Pratt, who was previously a manager at Westmere Beverage in Guilderland and as a bartender at Albany Ale and Oyster in Albany.

"Business has been good," he said when we stopped in recently, noting that opening around the time of the Academy Award season provided an early boost as people flocked to The Spectrum to see nominated films.

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Follow up: Olive & June

OliveandJune_Cassie_Vogel.jpg

Cassie Vogel of Olive & June Floral Company

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Cassie Vogel was one of the finalists for last year's AOA Startup Grant. A recent transplant from Portland, Oregon, Cassie opened the Olive & June Floral Company inside of the Fort Orange General Store at the beginning of this year.

Since then she's booked 45 weddings in 2018 alone, and she's run workshops and a retail shop out of Fort Orange.

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Follow up: Adirondack Barnwood Salvage

Adirondack Barnwood project 1.jpg

1 barn down

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Longtime friends Nick Ouimet and Adam Weber were the winners of 2017's AOA Startup Grant for their company, Adirondack Barnwood Salvage.

Nick, a West Point faculty member, and Adam, an MBA, used the grant money to take down their first barn and they're eyeing their next one.

Adam took time to share their experience since then with us.

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Follow up: Fort Orange Brewing

Fort Orange Brewing 2018-July exterior cornhole league

AOA is on summer break. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Fort Orange Brewing became Albany's third operating brewery when it opened in a space on North Pearl Street in the Warehouse District last October. It's the product of three friends from Castleton -- Craig Johnson, John Westcott, and Jim Eaton -- who decided to make the jump from home brewing.

The space serves as both a brewery and taproom, and on a recent Wednesday night it was busy with people playing in the brewery's popular cornhole league.

"We're very pleased with where we're at being nine months into this thing," Jim Eaton told us a few days later as we talked about how things have gone for the startup brewery -- and their plans to keep growing...

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Brewtus Roasting Co.

Brewtus Roasting exterior

We got a chance to stop by Brewtus Roasting Co. in Delmar on Wednesday, a relatively new coffee spot tucked into a space between Delaware Ave and the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail near the Four Corners.

Brewtus was formerly called Barkeater and based in East Greenbush. Owner and roaster Stephen Pivonka changed the name last fall, and opened the Delmar space this past April.

He'd already been selling his products at the Delmar Farmers Market and said he was getting requests for a spot in the hamlet. The town of Bethlehem also chipped in a grant to help the move.

The other draw: Brewtus is in the same building with the Real McCoy Beer Co. and the Royal Meadery.

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A look around the new CoLab coworking space in downtown Albany

CoLab Albany mural

Ron Grieco, the co-owner of Stacks Espresso, was skeptical when his business partner, Tyler Wrightson, got back from a trip to Florida where he saw a coworking space next to a coffee spot -- and said they should open a coworking space here in Albany.

"I was like no way, this is out of our wheel house," he said. But he thought about it, and the idea started to make sense because they already had experience creating places where people like to hang out. And there was an open space just across the hallway from the Stacks in the Arcade Building in downtown Albany -- with the same sort of huge windows that look out onto the street.

"This was the perfect space because we're right there already," he said. "That was a big thing, striving for the kind of atmosphere that we create in the coffee shop, which is a warm, welcoming atmosphere."

And this past Friday their coworking space -- CoLab -- opened its doors.

Here's a look around the place along with a few bits about what's up.

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There's a workshop coming up in Albany about how to apply for a slice of state grant money for your project

Albany City Hall from east Capitol lawn

For the last several years the state has distributed millions of dollars to projects around the state via the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) process -- it's the one with the vaguely-game-show-like ceremony each December.

So, how does your project get a slice of that money? Good question. And it's the topic of a Capitalize Albany event at Albany City Hall June 27 to explain the consolidated funding application (CFA). Blurbage:

The event provides an opportunity for business owners, community leaders and residents to come together and discuss how the CFA process can make an impact in your community. [Empire State Development] and Capitalize Albany will be available to answer any questions, explain the CFA process and will discuss available resources for those with project development ideas.

This whole process operates on cycles and the timeline for current one is heading toward some important deadlines this summer. So it pays (perhaps literally) to go through some of the details at the link above and starting preparing -- there's some important info about getting letters of support from the city.

The Capital Region got $85 million grant awards last year through the REDC process. That's public money that everyone should have a chance at landing, but you've gotta be able to figure out how to sort through all the jargon and acronyms. This might be a way to figure some of that out.

The workshop is Wednesday, June 27 from 5:30-6:30 pm in the city hall rotunda. It's free.

Checking in with Bard & Baker, the board game cafe planned for Troy

The_News_apartments_Troy_1.jpg

The cafe will be in the street-level corner space of the old Record building.

The new board game cafe that's been in the works for downtown Troy -- Bard & Baker -- now has a location.

The developers behind the new News Apartments announced this week that Bard & Baker will be taking one of the retail spaces in the old Troy Record building at Broadway and 5th Ave.

The cafe's owner is Charlotte Guyton, who was a key member of the team at Clark House Hospitality (Peck's Arcade, The Confectionery). And Bryan Connor, who was a pastry chef at Peck's Arcade, will be the cafe's kitchen manager.

Guyton first publicly announced the plan for the cafe during last year's AOA Startup Grant content, in which she was finalist. Even though she didn't win, the judges were very impressed by both her and her methodical approach. And Guyton got a boost last month when she won a $1,500 grant in the business plan competition for the Capital Region Chamber's Entrepreneur Boot Camp. She's aiming to open in September.

So we're curious to hear about how thing are coming along, and what to expect when the cafe opens this fall. And we figured you might be, too...

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New York's moving closer to marijuana legalization -- thinking about what could that mean for local communities

David Soares marijuana public meeting

David Soares at Wednesday's meeting in Arbor Hill.

It would not be surprising for New York State to legalize recreational marijuana sometime during the next few years.

Massachusetts will start legal sales of recreational pot this July. That same month in Vermont it will become legal to have and grow small amounts of marijuana. Legalization had majority support among respondents to a Siena New York State poll earlier this year. Cynthia Nixon's made it a plank of her gubernatorial campaign. And Andrew Cuomo, who has been against legalization, ordered the state Department of Health to study it.

If/when legalization happens, there will be a lot of things to sort out -- not just details about how pot will be sold and taxed, but also how to deal with the significant ethical and legal issues that rise from legalizing a product that's been the subject of so much law enforcement and crime for decades.

So how do people want that future to play out? And what can be done in the interim?

Those were some of the questions at the heart of a community discussion with Albany County District Attorney David Soares in Albany this week.

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The Cheese Traveler has a new owner

The Cheese Traveler Eric Paul 2012

Eric Paul back in 2012 when the shop opened.

The Cheese Traveler has been sold.

Mary Rizzo of Troy has bought the popular cheese and specialty food shop on Delaware in Albany from founder Eric Paul. It sounds like the plan is to keep a lot things the same for now. Press release blurbage:

The Cheese Traveler will continue most of the popular product lines and events our customers know and love. The Friday Night Cook-outs start on May 11 continuing through September. The menu will change weekly and feature local certified organic and grass finished beef from Tilldale Farm and certified organic and grass finished lamb from Hessian Hill Farm. Vegetarian options along with side dishes, starter plates and desserts will be created based on fresh, local, seasonal produce, and cheese plates will feature a variety of domestic and imported cheeses paired with the perfect accompaniment. A curated selection of wine, beer, cider and non-alcoholic drinks will also be available.

There will be reception for Eric Paul and Alifair Skebe, his wife, Sunday May 13 from 1-3 pm at the shop.

Over at Table Hopping, Steve Barnes reports that Paul made the choice to sell so he could focus more time working for a cheese importer and distributor based out of Brooklyn.

Eric Paul's been a fixture as a local cheese seller and expert going back almost two decades, first at Honest Weight, at the Cheese Traveler stand at the Delmar Farmers Market, and then at the shop on Delaware. He has a great depth of knowledge and passion for the subject, which always came through when talking with him at the shop.

Neon Dog

Neon Dog pet supplies on Lark Street

Speaking of Lark Street businesses... After visiting the new Pint Sized Friday we had a chance to stop in at the new pet supplies store just across Jay Street.

Neon Dog has been open a week in the second-floor retail space at 252 Lark Street. The shop, owned by Romel Pryor, offers a range of pet supplies, from food to toys to grooming accessories. And if you don't see something you're looking for, ask -- we heard today that they've already changed up the dog food lineup based on feedback from customers.

The store is open Monday-Sunday 9 am-7 pm.

And pets are welcome in the shop. (Even the unusual ones.)

A peek inside the new Pint Sized on Lark Street

Pint_Sized_Lark_Street_2.jpg

The craft beverage shop on Lark Street -- Pint Sized -- has re-opened at its new, expanded location at 250 Lark. It's the former Enigma/Ben & Jerry's space at the corner Lark and Jay.

Pint Sized started out in 2014 as a retail shop in a below-street level space at the corner of Lark and State. Owner August Rosa made the move to the new spot so he could have a bar area and seating.

It's a format similar to the one that's been successful at Pint Sized's Saratoga Springs location.

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A look around the new Albany Distilling bar and bottle shop

Albany Distilling bar bottle shop

The Albany Distilling Company has a grand opening for its new bar and bottle shop on Livingston Ave this Friday. The building includes a bar area, a striking outdoor courtyard, and an upstairs room for private events.

The distillery has been working on renovating the building over the past year, an expansion beyond its nearby production space at Quackenbush Square.

Here's a look around the new space, along with a few bits about it....

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Proposed apartment project at the Playdium site set to move forward

363 Ontario Playdium site redev rendering 2018-January B

A rendering of the planned apartments.

The proposed redevelopment of the Playdium site in Albany is set to move forward after the Albany IDA approved a PILOT agreement and tax breaks for the project at a special meeting Thursday.

The project -- backed by the Jankow Companies -- involves demolishing the bowling alley to make way for the construction of three new apartment buildings. The proposal has gotten a lot of attention because it's set to replace a neighborhood landmark. And it's become a high-profile example of the simmering discussion in Albany about the density and height of new development around the city's neighborhoods.

The developers have a tentative closing date in early April, according to real estate agent David Phaff, who's been representing the project. Construction would start immediately after.

Here are a few more bits...

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Here's a map of every brewery in New York State

Great Flats Brewing in Schenectady

Great Flats Brewing in Schenectady is one of the many new farm breweries around the state.

As of mid February of this year New York State had 400 breweries, the Cuomo admin announced this month. That's said to be a new record for the number of individual breweries in the state, surpassing the former high count of 393 in 1876.

When that announcement arrived, we put together a map of the 46 breweries in the greater Capital Region.

People seemed to like that, so we figured, hey, why not just roll together a clickable map of all 400 breweries around the state?

So we did. And here it is.

(Also: A quick run though some New York State brewing history.)

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Big downtown residential project approved (again), street ownership intrigue, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

351 Southern Boulevard site elevations medium

The plan to build a hotel and multiple retail buildings on Southern Boulevard was approved.

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million dollar projects around the city are (partially) decided.

This month: Approval -- again -- for a big new residential project downtown. One of the last turns in a years-long story. Street ownership intrigue. And more exciting tales...

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There are now 400 breweries in New York State

Fort Orange Brewing Albany

Fort Orange Brewing, which opened in Albany last October, is one of the 400.

Bonus: We've added a map of the Capital Region breweries.

New York State now has more breweries than at any other point in history, the Cuomo admin reported Wednesday.

There are 400 breweries operating in the Empire State. The previous high count was 393 in 1876.

The Cuomo admin points out there have been 243 new breweries licensed since 2012, and 202 of them have gotten the OK to operate under the relatively new farm brewery license that took effect at the start of 2013. That license relaxes a bunch of rules for breweries if they use a certain percentage of ingredients grown in state. (There's also a farm winery license that dates back to the 1970s, as well as more recent farm distillery and farm cidery licenses.)

It's probably true that New York is also riding the general rising tide of craft beer over the last decade or so. Example: In 2016 overall production of beer in the United State was flat, but craft beer production was up more than 6 percent and grew to more than 12 percent all beer produced in the US.

Here's the whole list of breweries, which includes 46 in the (greater) Capital Region....

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The city of Albany is seeking proposals for the restaurant space at Capital Hills

The building the restaurant space shares with the pro shop.

The city of Albany is seeking proposals from potential operators of the year-round restaurant space at the city-owned Capital Hills golf course.

The 4,000-square-foot restaurant space shares a building with the golf course pro shop (map), and includes a 1,700-square-foot patio that sits out back above the course.

The current restaurant is Martel's, which has been operating there since 1994. Owner Roger Martel said this week that he would like to continue occupying the space as a family restaurant that also appeals to golfers. "We haven't submitted a bid yet, but we are very much intending to," he said Monday.

Martel said his current contract with the city ends March 31.

A clip from the request for proposals, and a few other bits...

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CoLab

Arcade Building downtown Albany exterior 2016-11-02The owners of Stacks Espresso are planning to open a membership co-working space -- CoLab -- across the hall from their downtown Albany location in the Arcade Building. It's aiming for a spring opening, according to its website.

The blurbage describes it as, "A space where innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, students, and collaborators from all walks of life can work independently, or in groups, to accomplish their goals and achieve success." That link above includes renderings and an amenities list.

The space will also available to rent for events.

Many coffee shops already are de-facto co-working spaces, so opening a formal co-working operation almost seems like a natural extension of a modern coffee business.

Co-working boomlet
Co-working has started to catch on around the Capital Region over the last few years, and there are now handful of places. Among them:
+ Beahive Albany
+ Saratoga CoWorks
+ Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy
+ Troy Innovation Garage
+ Urban Co-Works in Schenectady
+ The planned Bull Moose Club in downtown Albany from Troy Innovation Garage

Earlier: Why Stacks Espresso picked downtown Albany for its next location

Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy roundtables

alliance for creative economy logoThe Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy initiative has a series of events coming up over the next month or so focused on the state of the local "creative economy" and how to grow it. Blurbage:

Join ACE and the Center for Economic Growth as we announce our latest Creative Economy data, and share your thoughts on how we can work together to develop and grow creative jobs and opportunities in the Capital Region.
ACE wants to know what you do, why you're here, and how we can make this region the best place in the U.S. for people to live, work, and grow creative businesses. Music, food, networking and more. You're welcome to attend any or all of these Roundtable events, and need not be employed in the Creative Industries to participate.

The first event is at Overit in Albany on February 7. The full schedule is below. The roundtables are free to attend, though registration is requested (details at the link above).

ACE defines the creative economy as including: design, media, visual arts and handcrafted products, performing arts, heritage and preservation, and artisanal food and agriculture.

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It's like you can almost smell the pizza

Hudson Virtual Tours DeFazios screengrab

A screengrab from the DeFazio's tour.

This is fun: A Troy-based company -- Hudson Virtual Tours -- is creating 3D/virtual reality walkthroughs of spaces.

It's posted a handful of examples from around Troy, including The Clark House establishments, the Burden Iron Works Museum, and St. Paul's Church.

The image above is a screengrab from the "dollhouse" view of the virtual tour of DeFazio's. It's interesting to be able to "walk" around the shop and the kitchen spaces, gawking at all the little details. (Don't miss the Tournament of Pizza trophy.)

One of the backers of Hudson Virtual Tours is Owen Bush, who was involved with the Troy-based virtual reality company SpaceoutVR. They're using the Matterport 3D camera to capture the spaces.

There's at least one other local company doing something similar, the Colonie-based Filmworks 109. It's also posted a few examples, including a walkthrough of Franklin Plaza decked out for the holidays.

A new, expanded spot on Lark for Pint Sized

250 Lark Street 2018-January

The planned new spot.

The Lark Street craft beverage shop Pint Sized is moving -- to a new location, and to a (somewhat) different format.

"It's time to grow, to move on to better things," owner August Rosa said Tuesday.

Here's a little bit about what's up with the shop and Lark Street generally...

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Checking out the new Franklin Alley Social Club

Franklin Alley Social Club shuffleboard and bocce courts

The Franklin Alley Social Club -- a new bar/shuffleboard/bocce ball/arcade spot under Takk House in Troy -- opened this past weekend.

Here's a look around and little bit about what's up...

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A look around Delaware Supply

Delaware Supply exterior

Some quick follow-up on Delaware Supply, the craft beer bar that's been in the works for the space next to The Spectrum that was previously a series of coffee shops.

It opened shortly before Christmas, and here are a handful of pics along with a few other bits...

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B Lodge & Company is 150 years old and its owner says it's having one of its best years

B. Lodge & Co exterior evening

In a city with roots that stretch back four centuries, it take some doing to be considered old.

That said, it's fair to say B. Lodge & Co. -- or Lodge's as pretty much everyone calls it -- is very old. It's an Albany institution, dating back to 1867 (and maybe even earlier). It's survived booms and busts, and persisted downtown on Pearl Street even as retail stores fled the city over the last half century. (Because no matter what's happening in the world, people gotta have a place to buy socks.)

On Wednesday the Albany County Legislature recognized the 150th anniversary of Lodge's proclaiming it "B. Lodge & Co. Day" in the county.

Mark Yonally currently owns Lodge's with his sister, Sharon Freddoso. They took over the business in 2011 from their parents, who had owned it since the 1990s (and worked there since the 1980s).

We talked with Yonally for a few minutes about being part of an Albany tradition, staying afloat in the age of Amazon, and how things are going downtown.

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Blood and lipstick: Jenn Dugan's Makeup Curio

makeup curio schenectady composite

Jenn Dugan didn't wear makeup until after she graduated from college.

Well, that's not entirely true. There was a goth period in high school in East Greenbush, but she doesn't really count that.

She studied fashion design at Marist College where she started costuming plays and became a self-proclaimed "theater nerd." After school, she worked in New York and Seattle, and traveled the country as a costume designer and dresser.

In regional theater, costume designers often design makeup as well. So, out of necessity, her next career was born. She studied books about theater and film makeup, attended trade shows and experimented with characters and special effects. And she enjoyed it. When she returned to the Capital Region to be near her family, she quickly gained a reputation as a makeup artist.

Earlier this month Dugan opened The Makeup Curio, a makeup and esthetics salon in Schenectady where clients sometimes leave looking stranger than they did when they entered.

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A look around the new Fort Orange Brewing

Fort Orange Brewing in Albany opening

The new Albany brewery -- Fort Orange Brewing -- officially opened Wednesday afternoon.

Its space, a combination brewery/tap room, is on North Pearl Street in the Warehouse District. Six of its brews were on tap, along with cider from Nine Pin.

Fort Orange Brewing is the product of Craig Johnson, John Westcott, and Jim Eaton. The three friends from Castleton started brewing at home together a few years back and decided to make the jump to a full brewery. As Eaton told us back in August, the plan is to offer their beers in the tap room, along with snacks. They'll also be inviting food trucks to set up outside. Eaton said the goal is to create a family-friendly atmosphere.

It's the third brewery now operating in the city of Albany, joining the C. H. Evans Brewing (the Pump Station) and Druthers. The craft beverage producer list also includes Albany Distilling Co. and Nine Pin Cider.

Here's a look around the new place...

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Troy Small Business Summit 2017

Tech Valley Center of Gravity exterior 2016-JulyThe Troy Small Business Summit returns for a second year on October 17 at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. The event includes talks and breakout sessions about various aspects of running a business. Blurbage:

The formal program includes a 'Troy Gaming Industry' panel discussion with Guha Bala, President of Velan Ventures and Steven Flenory, Head of Studio for WB Games New York.
This year's summit features extended breakout programming, an expanded two tracks of group breakout sessions from local and regional experts in marketing, human resources, and restaurant entrepreneurship, led by Francesca LoPorto-Brandow of GreyCastle Security, Danika Atkins of Excelsior College, Heidi Knoblauch, owner of Plumb Oyster Bar, and Aneesa Waheed, owner of Tara Kitchen.
Following the breakout sessions will be a group presentation about "Navigating Uncharted Territory in Small Business" which will go over information regarding the pipeline for small business in Troy, including business and financial planning, location and lease structure, navigating local regulations, and ultimately the awareness the local resources available to help make your business a success.
The summit will also feature a keynote address from Sinclair Schuller, CEO of Apprenda.

The events are from 10 am-5 pm that day, which is a Tuesday. It's free to attend, but space is limited -- you can register online (see link above).

The 2017 AOA Startup Grant winner

Startup Grant 2017 finalists group photo

Over the years we've had many good projects make the finals of the AOA Startup Grant. But after the judges have had the chance to hear the presentations, they usually come to a consensus quickly.

Not this year. Three very strong projects made their pitches at the College of Saint Rose Wednesday and the judges had a tough time settling on a winner. The post-presentation discussion was long and more than a little bit agonized. But they finally picked a winner -- in a split decision.

CDTA-Cycle-525x80-static.jpg

16-0375 All Over Albany Small Business online Ad_525x80

Saint Rose in-post ad 2016

Nine Pin Cider Works AOA Startup Grant ad

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Fort Orange Brewing

Fort Orange Brewing Jim Eat

Jim Eaton in the Fort Orange Brewing space. He's part of the team that includes Craig Johnson and John Westcott.

Albany's Warehouse District is in line to add another craft beverage producer this fall with the planned opening of Fort Orange Brewing.

Here's a quick overview of what's in the works and who's involved...

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The business of art

arts center capital region troy exterior

Passion, talent, work ethic -- all things that go into making art. Also: money -- because you gotta eat and have somewhere to live.

The Arts Center of the Capital Region is hosting two courses starting this fall that focus on the business of being an artist -- planning, marketing, legal, and making money. One is a weekend-long boot camp, the other a class that meets regularly across several months. Both are a free, but require an application.

Here's a quick overview...

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Innovate518: crowdfunding, startup insurance

Innovate518 crowdfunding workshop posterThe Innovate 518 project at UAlbany has a couple of workshops coming up that could be useful for small businesses and people trying to get an enterprise started...

July 18: Crowdfunding 101 Workshop
Blurbage:

Discover how crowdfunding works and how it can work for you!
+ Perfect for beginners to crowdfunding
+ Specific focus is given to understanding the ingredients of a campaign, choosing your goal, creating rewards, and crafting your pitch
+ Numerous examples will be given to illuminate the essence and power of the crowdfunding model"

Tuesday, July 18 from 2-4 pm at UAlbany's Massry Center for Business on the uptown campus. Free, registration required.

(We'd just add that we see a lot of projects try to crowd fund, with wide variation in levels of success. So if this workshop can offer specific, tested approaches, it could be a big help if you're looking to go that route.)

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A look around the new -- again -- Fort Orange General Store in downtown Albany

Fort Orange General Store downtown Albany

The reincarnated Fort Orange General Store is now open in a storefront on Broadway across from the SUNY administration building in downtown Albany.

Shop owner Schuyler Bull said the store is currently in a soft opening phase. He said they unlocked the door with no announcement on Friday, and Monday posted an opening announcement on Facebook. (There's a ribbon cutting planned for a few weeks out. )

Bull said Monday afternoon that foot traffic into the store has already been brisk.

"It's been overwhelming in a very positive way," he said.

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Follow up: Collar City Candle

Collar City Candle Josh Jamie Wallbank 2017-July

Josh and Jamie at the Collar City Candle booth at the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market.

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Collar City Candle took first place in the AOA Startup Grant contest last fall. Josh and Jamie Wallbank operate the business -- making candles, soaps, and wax containers for houseplants -- out of their home in Troy, and they started selling their products at the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market. They're putting the $2,500 in prize money from the AOA contest toward business expansion.

We caught up with them at the farmers' market on Saturday where Jamie shared some thoughts on their progress, planning, and what makes a business more than just a business.

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A look around the new Slidin' Dirty in Schenectady

Slidin Dirty Schenectady

The popular restaurant Slidin' Dirty opened a new location in the Foster Building on State Street in downtown Schenectady Thursday. It's the second location for owners Brooke and Tim Taney, who started out with a food truck in 2012, and then opened a permanent location in downtown Troy in 2014.

The new spot in Schenectady is much bigger than the Troy location, occupying two floors behind a large arch window that looks out onto the street.

Here's a look around the new space, along a few quick bits from the Taneys about why the picked Schenectady and the path from a food truck to multiple locations.

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The Colonie Center Sears is closing

The Sears at Colonie Center is closing this mid-September, the company said in a statement Thursday. the store will remain open until then and a liquidation sale will start June 30. Eligible employees will receive severance and be given the opportunity to apply at other Sears and KMart stores. The full statement is below.

The Colonie Center closure was one of the 20 this week. A Sears spokesman says the stores at the Wilton Mall and Aviation Mall in Queensbury will continue operating. [Business Insider]

The move isn't surprising.

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Mastroianni Bros bread returning to stores

Mastroianni Bakery logoThe new owner of Mastroianni Bros Bakery announced Thursday that bread from the almost-century-old Rotterdam-based brand will start showing up on store shelves again this week.

A Utica-based company called Pumilia Pizza Shells bought the Mastroianni intellectual property last year at auction after the Schenectady company filed for bankruptcy. Pumilia makes and distributes pizza dough. [Daily Gazette 2016 November]

The Mastroianni products will be produced at a bakery in Utica, the new owners say.

The first of the new/old Mastroianni breads will begin appearing in some Price Choppers/Markets 32 starting this week, with discussions in progress for other outlets. The new owners say they'll first be making the Mastroianni sliced Italian bread and soft rolls, with more products planned for the future.

Mastroianni Bros Bakery had been trying to evolve its business in recent years in an attempt to head off bankruptcy, as detailed by Ned Campbell in the Daily Gazette back in 2015. Among the changes: The company -- known for its huge loaves of bread -- started selling smaller loaves to appeal to households with fewer people.

Two million servings of ice cream

stewarts maple walnut ice cream half gallon milk eggs

Because ice cream: Stewart's had a sale on half gallons of its ice cream last week. And this week Stewart's president Gary Dake tweeted it was a record sale for the company, with an average of 769 half gallons sold per shop.

So, that's...

+ 259,153 half gallons of ice cream sold.*

+ $774,867.47 in half gallon ice cream sales.

+ Enough ice cream for almost 2.1 million individual servings. **

* Stewart's has 337 shops, according a January company press release.

** The FDA's official serving size for ice cream is 2/3 of a cup, but who are they kidding? So that number of servings is based on 1 cup per serving. (If you want to use the FDA measurement, the total would be more than 3.1 million servings.)
____

By the way, we stumbled across the remarkably thorough Stewart's FAQ page today, which covers everything from why there's not an ice cream club card, to the source of the company's eggs, to why the shops carry "adult sophisticate" magazines.

Capital Region InnovateHER 2017 Challenge

innovateHER challenge 2017 posterThe Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region and the Albany Center for Economic Success are again the local hosts of the national InnovateHER 2017 challenge, which awards prize money to startups. Blurbage:

The InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition aimed at spotlighting products and services that impact and empower the lives of women and their families. ...
In order to qualify, your business must have a product or service that:
→ Impacts the lives of women and families
→ Fills a need in the marketplace
→ Has the potential for commercialization

The deadline to apply is this Wednesday, May 10. But business plans don't have to be submitted until May 24. The Community Loan Fund and ACES are offering help with business plans, if needed.

Here's more about the national contest, along with the list of winners the past two years. The region winner advances to a national semifinal.

Last year's regional winner was Sandra Beck of Tidy Tots Diapers, who developed a cloth-free diaper system.

Matt Baumgartner has sold Bombers

Bombers Lark Street exterior 2016

Matt Baumgartner announced Wednesday that he's sold Bombers to Jimmy Vann, who's worked there for a long time and been managing the local chain for years.


Steve Barnes talked with both of them about the sale -- Baumgartner told him: "In that way it's a little sad, but the 20-year benchmark just felt like the right time. I've not been very involved in it, I feel like I've outgrown it in some ways, and I've got other things to keep me busy." [TU Table Hopping]

There's still Wolff's and The Olde English, and he now has a farm in Rensselaer County. (Mike DeMasi talked with him a bit about the plans for the farm.) [Biz Review]

By the way: Bombers is a reference to a nickname.

The Fort Orange General Store is re-opening

Fort Orange General Store Broadway pre exterior

The exterior of the shop's new space on Broadway.

The Fort Orange General Store is returning, with a new owner and a new location in downtown Albany.

The new owner is Schuyler Bull. And the new location is a street-level space at 412 Broadway -- the Argus Building -- across from the SUNY administration plaza. He's aiming for a soft opening in mid May.

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Updates: 3Fish Coffee, 288 Lark Street

3Fish Coffee and Downtube

Quick updates on a couple of Lark Street-area storefronts...

3Fish Coffee
The new cafe next to the Downtube on Madison Ave across from Washington Park -- 3Fish Coffee -- has its grand opening this Friday-Sunday. It's run by Emma Fullem, daughter of the owners of the landmark bike shop, and the family was prompted to open the cafe by the fire that significantly damaged the building two years ago. The weekend will be a "grand (re)opening" for both businesses.

There's a pop-up art show with music Friday evening, and yoga, coffee, and bike activities on Saturday and Sunday.

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Albany Distilling opening a new tasting room and retail shop in Albany

Albany Distilling Livingston Ave exterior

The Albany Distilling Co. formally announced Friday it's opening a tasting room and retail store in a building near the foot of the Livingston Ave hill in Albany.

Here's a look at the place and what's in the plan.

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Local women-owned businesses?

six dollars a five and a oneJulia messages:

Hi there! Do you know if anyone has ever compiled a list of women-owned businesses around the Albany area? Looking for people to support today (and every day!), and it occurred to me that it'd be great to have a list to reference!

We got a similar question this week from Melissa via Twitter.

This a wide-angle question and could include many types of businesses. Got some favorite local women-owned business? We'd love to hear about them.

Are you the owner of such a business? Please don't hesitate to mention it.

Brew goes Pint Sized, plans second location (and a tiny bar)

Brew Pint Sized Albany interior 2017-February

The current shop on Lark Street.

Changes are coming to Brew, the popular beer/coffee shop on Lark Street.

Owner August Rosa says he's changing the name to Pint Sized. And he's opening a second location in Saratoga Springs -- what he believes could be the Capital Region's tiniest bar.

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Death Wish Coffee founder at Startup Grind

bags of death wish coffee on supermarket shelf

Mike Brown -- the founder of the Round Lake-based Death Wish Coffee Co. -- is the speaker for the next event in the local Startup Grind series January 26 in the Rensselaer Technology Park. Tickets are $20 (or 2 for $30) ahead / $25 at the door / free for current students.

You probably already know the outline of the Death Wish story. Brown started the brand -- "the world's strongest coffee" -- out of the Saratoga Coffee Traders location in Saratoga Springs. And then got a huge boost last year when Death Wish won a contest for a free TV spot during the Super Bowl. Business has been booming since. (The coffee is available online and at retail outlets such as supermarkets.)

The Startup Grind event page says Death Wish now has revenue of $14 million a year.

The event next Thursday, January 26 is at Pat's Barn in the Rensselaer Tech Park. Networking at 6 pm, talk at 7 pm.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Next up for Death Wish Coffee: NASCAR
+ Death Wish Coffee Vodka
+ Death Wish Coffee gets a Super Bowl ad

Startup Law Day at Albany Law 2017

albany law school exteriorAlbany Law School is hosting a Startup Law Day January 28 with info sessions on various issued related to running a business. It's organized by the law school's pro bono program. Here's the lineup:

9:30 am -- Legal Formation
10:00 am -- Human Resources (Regulatory Issues, Hiring, Working with Contractors)
10:00 am -- Intellectual Property (Patents, Technology Transfer, Licensing)
11:30 am -- Working with Banks
11:30 am -- Building a Capitalization Structure to Work with Investors
12:45 pm -- Lunch and Panel: Words of Wisdom from New and Seasoned Business Owners

There will also be free legal consultations available -- by reservation -- with representatives of Tully Rinckey PLLC and Hoffman Warnick LLC.

Registration for the event is required. Details are at that first link above.

A look at MopCo's new Schenectady theater

Mopco theater Schenectady exterior after

The new MopCo Theater is at 10 North Jay Street in Schenectady.

Two things we should disclose before you start reading this post.

1. One half of AOA performs with the Mop & Bucket Company. (Hint: It's not Greg)
2. The Mop & Bucket Company advertises on AOA.

MopCo, the long-standing Capital Region improv company, now has its own theater -- a renovated former firehouse (and onetime strip club) on North Jay Street. It's sharing the space with its sister company, Koppett, which uses improv to train employees of companies such as Facebook and Apple in creativity.

In addition to its own improv shows, MopCo will use the new theater to host other improv troupes, classes, readings, music performances, story nights, and a wide variety of other special events.

MopCo officially opens the new space this Saturday with a TheaterSports show by its house team.

The company has been playing at Proctors for many years. For the last two years it worked on growing the business in a small rented space on Union Street while it searched for a permanent home.

The founders considered different areas in the Capital Region, but eventually found that home right around the corner in a broken down building in Schenectady's Little Italy.

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New CEO for Price Chopper/Market 32 parent company

Golub Corp Scott GrimmettThe Golub Corporation -- the privately-held parent company of Price Chopper/Market 32 based in Schenectady -- announced Wednesday that it has a new CEO. And notably, the person is not a Golub.

Scott Grimmett, who had been the company chief operating officer (he was the first non-Golub to hold that role), is succeeding Jerry Golub in the CEO role. Grimmett (that's him on the right) joined the Golub Corp in 2012 after working for Safeway for 37 years. He's been part of the company succession plan since he was hired, according to a press release.

Press release blurbage:

"This is an exciting time for our company," said Neil Golub, chairman of the board. "While international conglomerates and Wall St. continue to consolidate our industry, we are investing in our future as a strong, American-owned, family-built regional chain. The design work that we invested in Market Bistro (circa 2010-2014), coupled with the brand-defining innovation that has given rise to our first few Market 32 concept stores has not only laid the groundwork for our continued growth, but also fueled the acceleration of our plans to modernize our stores under the Market 32 banner. "

Jerry Golub is now vice chair of the company's board and will be leading a committee focused on accelerating the switch from the Price Chopper brand to Market 32, according to the press release.

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AOA Startup Grant winner Puzzles Bakery & Cafe set to open this month

Puzzles exterior.jpg

Puzzles Bakery & Cafe is on State Street in downtown Schenectady.

One year after winning the AOA Startup Grant contest, Puzzles Bakery and Cafe is about to open.

In addition to serving sandwiches, salads and baked goods, Sara Mae Hickey's bakery and cafe has a mission: Puzzles is a for-profit business with a commitment to employing people with disabilities -- autism, especially.

The cafe was inspired by Sara Mae's experience with her autistic sister. She set out to create a business at which adults with developmental disabilities would have an opportunity for personal growth, a source of income, social interaction, and a sense of purpose.

The last year of renovating the building, creating the space, and preparing to open the business has been a long road with a few unexpected bumps -- including a burglary, and a front loader plowing into the back of the building. Three times.

What has the last year taught her?

"Well, I've learned that opening a business is one of the hardest things that a person can do. I know that about a year ago I thought we were able to open in a month or two -- and here we are almost a year later and we're finally ready to open our doors for real."

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Crisan to close cafe

Crisan front window 2013 October

Updated at 3:40 pm: We spoke with Crisan's owners about the changes coming to the bakery in the new year.

News from Lark Street today: Crisan, the bakery that has become part of the neighborhood fabric over the last six years, will be closing its cafe. Neighbors were notified this weekend that starting January 1 the bakery will close its storefront and focus on wholesale orders and weddings and custom cakes.

From the note: "What was once a place to socialize, to ponder, to read and to work, will be transformed into a cake decorating workspace and a private tasting room." (An image of the full note is after the jump.)

Though the cafe portion of the business is closing, owner Claudia Crisan Calabria and her husband Iggy Calabria emphasize they're not closing the bakery itself and its products will still be available.

They took a few minutes to talk with us about their decision.

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Madison Theater opening new performance venue

Madison Theater exterior October 16 2014

The Madison Theater in Albany will be opening its new performance venue space October 25. A jazz group -- the Nancy and Spencer Reed Quartet -- will be playing the 170-seat space.

We stopped by the theater Thursday to get a look at the space, and talk with one of the theater's owners about how things are going on their plan to turn the Madison into a location for entertainment, food, and retail.

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Annmarie Lanesey, RebateHero

RebateHero screengrab

A screengrab from RebateHero.com.

In the grand scheme of things, the internet hasn't been around for a very long time. Yet sometimes it seems like there's already a website or app for pretty much whatever you want. So when you hit on something you can't find, well, it makes you wonder.

That's what happened to Annmarie Lanesey, the co-founder and president of Troy-based internet consulting firm GreaneTree Technology, when she started to investigate rebates. She was surprised that when she went looking in 2010 it looked like there wasn't an online solution for finding and organizing rebates. "It seemed as if we had found one of the last corners of the internet that remained untouched."

Three years later, Lanesey has launched RebateHero.com, which aims to bring the old-school rebate process into the 21st century.

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A year of Shmaltz in Clifton Park

shmaltz brewing composite

What can you do with an English degree?

Well, English-major-turned-craft-brewer Jeremy Cowan founded Shmaltz Brewing Company. But the idea for a beer company came way before college. It was an inside joke between high school friends who were among the few Jewish kids in their San Francisco school and thought Jews needed their own beer brand. So they came up with "He' Brew" and the tag line, "Don't Pass Over Sober."

More than 20 years later that high school joke has turned into an award-winning craft brewery known for both its playful, irreverent beer names such as He'Brew, Rejewvenator, and Hop Manna -- and for experimenting with interesting blends and styles of beer. And last year, Cowan opened a $3.3 million brewery, the brand's first, in Clifton Park.

Clifton Park? It's a question Cowan gets a lot.

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What is this Quirky in Schenectady?

quirky ben kaufman

Quirky founder Ben Kaufman, in a company video: "At Quirky we have one simple goal, to make invention accessible. Now, that doesn't happen overnight. But that's not to say it doesn't happen really f------ fast."

The invention/product company Quirky announced today that it will be opening an office in downtown Schenectady. The news has created a bit of a stir not only because the company is promising 180 jobs, but also because Quirky and its founder -- Ben Kaufman -- have been getting attention and hype in national media over the last few years.

So, what's the deal with the Quirky? Here's a quick backgrounder...

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Startup Grant Contest update: 3 Chicks and a P

Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia

Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia

There are just over two weeks left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait!

Two years ago 3 Chicks and a P, a family-run hummus and tapenade business, took home the $1,500 prize in the Startup Grant Contest. Back then owner Jennifer Rittner was just starting the business with her husband Matt, and their delicious hummus recipes had become farmers' market favorites.

Today you can find their products at The Niskayuna Co-op, Honest Weight, Healthy Living Market, and the Schenectady Greenmarket. They're now preparing to move into larger markets, and Jen says their startup grant is still working for them.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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Startup Grant Contest update: The Giddy Up Bus

Traci Cornwell Giddy Up Bus

Traci Cornwell's successful Giddy Up Bus was a finalist in the AOA Startup Grant Contest in 2012. (photo: AWASOS Entertainment)

There are just over two weeks left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait!

One of the things we love about the Startup Grant Contest is that not only does it help the winner, it also calls attention to lots of interesting, creative ventures in the Capital Region. Past finalists have gone on to build successful ventures based on the plans they proposed, with a bit of help from the feedback provided by the startup contest judges.

One of those finalists is Traci Cornwell, the entrepreneur behind the Giddy Up Bus, a bus service that runs from Albany to Saratoga and transports people for weddings and special events.

Traci was just 23 years old when she entered the contest and was selected as a finalist. Though she didn't win, she says the feedback from the judges was invaluable. Today she's successfully operating the Giddy Up bus and is considering adding a second bus to the fleet in the fall.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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AOA Startup Grant Contest 2014

Radix 2012 family portrait.jpg

The first Startup Grant winnter, The Radix Center, used its prize to help build an aquaculture system for raising fish, watercress and water lettuce, and teaching urban sustainability.

There are all kinds of good ideas floating around the Capital Region. We hear about them all the time. And sometimes all a good idea needs to get off the ground is a little push. So, with the help of Berkshire Bank and Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, we're bringing back the AOA Startup Grant contest.

The idea: Provide $1,500 in cash to help a budding entrepreneur get a new project off the ground, or take an existing small business project to the next level.

It's also an opportunity to get a look at some of the good ideas circulating just below the radar in our region. The 2012 contest helped 3 Chicks and a P fund its hummus and tapenade business. And the first startup contest helped the Radix Center fund an aquaculture setup in which they raise fish, watercress and water lettuce, and help educate the public about urban sustainability.

This year Berkshire Bank is offering a $1,500 startup grant to help get another local micro-enterprise off the ground. And once again, you get to help decide who gets that funding. Or -- you know -- maybe even enter your own idea.

Here's a look at some of the 2011 and 2012 entries.

We're really looking forward to seeing what people come up with this year.

So, here's what we're looking for -- and how to apply...

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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The Record, Saratogian to get paywalls

record saratogian screengrabs

The Record and Saratogian will be getting paywalls for their websites, part of an "All-Access print-digital subscription initiative" by their parent company at 75 dailies across the country. John Paton -- the CEO of Digital First Media, which manages the company that owns the papers -- announced the plan in a blog post Monday. Saratogian managing editor Barbara Lombardo confirmed that both the Saratogian and the Record are part of the plan.

It's not really news that newspapers have been struggling to find their financial footing as the media world transitions from print to digital. And it sounds like DFM -- which pulled its papers through bankruptcy and has been attempting to aggressively restructure its business -- is making this move somewhat grudgingly. A clip from Paton's post:

After a lot research by our team, we believe an All-Access print-digital subscription initiative is necessary to buy us that proverbial gas in the tank [to make the transition].With the rise of digital and the fall of print, we're at the point where we can launch a working All-Access subscription model.
Let's be clear, paid digital subscriptions are not a long-term strategy. They don't transform anything; they tweak. At best, they are a short-term tactic. I have said that often enough in the past.
But it's a tactic that will help us now.

In the post, Paton says the configuration will be different in each market, and will include new offerings. Jonathan Cooper, a DFM VP, tells us in an email that timing and details for each market are still to come. (Here's the setup for its paper in Denver.)

In the Capital Region, the Daily Gazette has a paywall that restricts access to subscribers for all but a few stories and features. The Post-Star's paywall allows people to access 10 articles over the course of a month without paying, much in the same way the New York Times paywall operates. And the Albany Business Review restricts some of its content to subscribers.

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Impact Downtown Albany

lower state street albany.jpg

What would you like to see in Downtown Albany?

Capitalize Albany, one of the forces behind the increase in residential living in downtown Albany, is about to launch a new project, and it's looking for input from you.

On Tuesday Capitalize Albany be down at Ten Eyck Plaza interviewing people and collecting stories and ideas for improving downtown Albany. It's the launch of a twelve month public/private collaboration called Impact Downtown Albany.

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The notable thing about this new supermarket isn't the what -- it's the where

ideal food basket menands map

From a map created last year -- those green circles represent 1-mile radii around supermarkets.

Word started circulating this week that an Ideal Food Basket supermarket is set to open on Broadway in Menands sometime in the next month. It'll be the first location for the Long Island-based chain, which already has stores downstate, as well as in Connecticut and Massachusetts. [Biz Review]

We'd never heard of Ideal Food Basket, and after some poking around -- and admittedly without stepping into one -- we get the impression it's a pretty average "neighborhood" style supermarket, maybe with slant toward being a discount market. The thing that did stand out, though: Where it's decided to set up here.

The Ideal Food Basket is going in to the former Save-A-Lot space at 100 Broadway in Menands. That spot is notable because it's located near areas in North Albany and Arbor Hill that are designated as "food deserts" by the federal government. What's that mean? Well, in the simplest sense, it means there isn't a supermarket within a 1-mile (or half-mile) radius of those neighborhoods (the whole definition is a bit more involved). A map we created last year about Capital Region supermarket geographic distribution might make it clearer.

The chain's parent organization has apparently decided to focus in part on opening stores in such areas. Said the company's CEO to the Times Union: "We get into areas where most organizations don't go into ... We go into underserved areas. We hire only from the neighborhood." Just this past month it opened a store in Nassau County on Long Island that was hailed as bringing a supermarket to an area with a "critical food-access issue." [TU] [Newsday]

For all the booming that's happened on the local supermarket scene in the last few years, the development has almost entirely focused on high-end products (Fresh Market, Whole Foods) and/or areas that already had other supermarket choices (ShopRite). It's interesting to see a company looking at areas not currently served as a business opportunity.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Where the supermarkets are -- and aren't
+ The big box gets smaller
+ Soapbox: Oh, Whole Foods, why Colonie Center?

The Frear Building in Troy is again open for (retail) business

frear building ekologic composite

The clothing design and manufacturing company 'e ko logic is known in the fashion world and sells its pieces in shops from France to Japan.

And it's located right here in the Capital Region -- in Troy -- and has been for the last decade. Though that wasn't necessarily easily to tell. Why? We'll let owner/designer Kathleen Tesnakis explain:

"Before I was in a very funky old building, on the second floor, that you weren't sure you wanted to walk up into." And beyond that funkiness, 'e ko logic didn't have a retail space.

That situation changes starting today when 'e ko logic formally opens its new retail and manufacturing space in the Frear Building. The clothing company's presence there is part of an ongoing transformation of the downtown Troy landmark back towards its roots.

(there's more)

Web developer for an online business?

code editor html screengrabAnonymous emails:

I am looking for an experienced web developer to help me launch an online business, someone who is highly proficient in HTML to hit the ground running on my site.

It sounds like Anonymous is maybe looking for a developer who has experience setting up an online shop or e-commerce system, so that might narrow the range a bit.

And, of course, a developer doesn't necessarily have to be local -- but it's nice to be able to meet up and talk to face-to-face. (We do get the sense Anon is looking for someone in the area.)

Have a web developer or firm to suggest? Please share.

A look at the new Saratoga Northshire, and conversation about the future of bookstores

northshire saratoga exterior

Today's a notable day for Capital Region book nerds because it's the opening of the Saratoga Springs location of the Northshire Bookstore. The 9,000-square-foot store on Broadway in the heart of downtown is just the second location for the much-admired Manchester, Vermont independent.

The last decade or so has been tough on book publishers and bookstores. The big national chain stores have either fallen (Borders) or are teetering (Barnes & Noble). The rise of e-readers has cut into sales of hard-copy books. And Amazon and Apple have been engaged in various attempts to control the pricing of books.

Given all that, we were curious why -- and how -- someone would open a new bookstore. So we stopped by the Saratoga Northshire location on Friday to get a peek at the new store, and talk with co-owner Chris Morrow about why they picked Saratoga Springs, how they made it happen, e-readers, and the future of the bookstore.

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A quick look inside the new Troy Bombers

Bombers Troy exterior

Right off the Green Island Bridge.

The new Bombers in Troy opens this Wednesday. The opening is notable not only because it's an extension of Matt Baumgartner and company's popular local burrito bar brand, but also because it's the chain's first franchise location.

Monday night there was a preview party, so we stopped by to get a look at the new place, and talk with Matt and the owners of the Troy location for a few minutes.

(there's more)

Tech Valley Center of Gravity

tech valley center of gravity interior

At the corner of 4th and Fulton in downtown Troy, in what was formerly an OTB space on the ground floor of a parking garage, is now a workshop with metal and wood working machinery, racks of tools and parts, 3-D scanners and printers, and biotech equipment.

The new Tech Valley Center of Gravity is a makerspace -- a place for hackers, crafters, artists, geeks to build stuff, take things apart, hack new things to together, and to learn from each other.

But organizers see it as part of something even bigger.

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The Confectionery in Troy planning expansion

confectionery proposed rear entrance

The proposed renovation to the rear of the Confectionery -- it would make make use of additional space on an adjacent property.

Thoroughly updated at 1 pm

The owners of the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery in Troy have bought an adjacent building -- 207 Broadway -- and are planning to expand the wine bar.

Vic Christopher -- who owns The Confectionery with his wife, Heather LaVine -- says they plan to turn a small building in the back of the 207 Broadway property into a private party space, along with another bathroom and a garden. It would also provide a second entrance for the "landlocked" Confectionery building. The goal is to have the expansion finished by mid summer.

Christopher says they've been turning down large groups because the just didn't have the space for them. The expansion will allow them to host groups of 20-50 people without compromising the cozy feel of the current space.

The Confectionery expansion is part of a larger plan for 207 Broadway.

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"The rise and rise of Vicarious Visions"

Over at the video game industry site Polygon there's a long backstory on Vicarious Visions, the game studio in Menands that's now part of the giant Activision. The story has a bunch of interesting bits, including this one about a precarious point in the company's development:

At RPI's incubator, the [Guha and Karthik Bala] met with then-CEO of MapInfo, Mike Marvin. The executive was a star in the region, having led a company that made millions of dollars in revenue -- a number that seemed impossibly large to the brothers at the time.
Marvin liked the Balas and saw potential in a video game business. He agreed to work with them on one condition: they keep the business near Albany.
A video game developer in Albany? Albany lacked both a talent pool and a customer base, and it wasn't an area anyone would associate with video games. But at that point, what other option did they have? Besides, the city had grown on them.
They agreed to Marvin's deal.

There's also a bit about Tony Hawk colliding with complex math.

[via @mstyne]

A Shatner app... developed... in Troy

shatoetry screenshots

Heh: 1st Playable -- a video game studio in Troy -- helped develop a new iPhone app released today: Shatoetry.

That's Shat as in William Shatner, and oetry as in poetry. Of course.

From the app's blurbage:

Shatoetry is an iPhone app that lets you arrange words - into statements, comments, messages, sentences, phrases, haiku, poetry, or even just random words... with this amazing payoff: whatever you arrange, you'll be able to hear William Shatner perform it for you.

And, of course, because it's William Shatner, there is the opportunity... for dramatic... pauses:

Though the dramatic pause has been a part of human communication for eternity, who else has mastered it like the man himself?
For more dramatic delivery to your Shatism, Shatoetry lets you add pauses between words with Space Bubbles.
Drop a Space Bubble into the Compose Field by simply giving the "Space" button a tap.
Drag it to wherever you want the pause to be... unheard ;)

1st Playable CEO Tobi Saulnier tells the Biz Review the app is part of her company experimenting with the iPhone app market. (1st Playable has done a lot of work developing games for platforms like the Nintendo DS.)

Oh, and his take on the app: it's "as different and as unique as a sunrise." [LAT]

The app is $2.99.

By the way: 1st Playable's office in Troy is gorgeous -- definitely worth a gawk if you ever have the chance.

Earlier on AOA: Kick Buttowski, launched from Troy

Startup contest update: The Radix Center

The Radix Center 2012

A lot can happen in a year.

That's something we were reminded of recently when we paid another visit to The Radix Center.

You might remember that the urban sustainability center won the AOA/Sunmark Startup contest in 2011. They used the $1,500 prize toward building an aquaculture system, in which they raise fish, watercress, and water lettuce.

Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew created the The Radix Center as an educational tool, to show people how to create a more sustainable urban environment by doing things like collecting rainwater, composting, reclaiming soil, and even operating their own greenhouses or aquacultures.

Last year we saw how things were just starting out in their 40 foot greenhouse in Albany's South End. This past Friday we stopped by again and -- well -- we'll let the pictures tell the story.

(there's more)

A look inside the new Sciortino's, and talking with Matt Baumgartner about Albany's potential

Frank Sciortino's grandson, Matt.

At first glance, the old diner car still looks like the Miss Albany -- well, a scrubbed and polished version of the Miss Albany. The booths are the same - the classic diner floors, counters and tile. But the walls are the first give-away that you're not in the Miss Albany anymore.

The famous signs warning patrons about unruly children have been replaced by classic old photos. They're from the families of Matt Baumgartner and his business partners, Jimmy and Demetra Vann. Sciortino's is named for Baumgartner's mother's family -- specifically for his grandparents, Frank and Rachel Sciortino, whose pictures occupy a prominent space behind the front counter.

The latest in Baumgartner's string of Capital Region business ventures -- and his continuing effort to bring life into to Albany's warehouse district -- opens on Wednesday.

Here's a look inside...

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On a boat...

adirondack ii sailboat

Erik emails:

On a [recent] trip to Newport I learned that one of the most popular touring and charter boats in Newport, RI is the 80-foot schooner, Adirondack II [above], built by Scarano Boat Building of Albany.
Over the last 35 years Scarano has built dozens of classic sailing and power vessels right on the Hudson on the southern tip of the port of Albany. They are perhaps most famous for the three mast 178 foot Friendship of Salem that was built for the National Park Service.
They seem to be pretty well respected in the field and their boats can be found all over the country, including New York, Newport, Boston, Key West, Orcas Island, and the Chesapeake Bay.
My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of going out the Adirondack II. The captain, as expected, gave a little bit of history on the boat, and while doing so was quoted as saying "The boat was made in Albany, NY of all places!"

We're weren't familiar with Scarano, so we headed to their website to have a look. And then we promptly lost track of time while gawking at all the beautiful boats.

It's Friday afternoon...

(Thanks, Erik!)

A giant check for 3 Chicks and a P

3 Chicks and a big check

Everybody say hummus: Sunmark president/CEO Bruce Beaudette; Matthew Paniccia and daughter Sophia; Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia and daughter Olivia; and Susan Siegel, a Sunmark senior vice president.

Let's hear it for giant checks and hummus!

Yesterday the winner of this year's AOA/Sunmark Startup Grant -- 3 Chicks and a P, a small business in Rotterdam that makes hummus, bean dips, and tapenades -- got its prize money from the people at Sunmark.

Sunmark_3Chicks2.jpgThe giant check came with $1,500 actual dollars (in a smaller check via direct deposit) that 3 Chicks owner Jennifer Ritner-Paniccia and her husband Matthew say they'll use for nutritional labeling for some of their newer flavors. They're hoping the labeling will help get their products onto supermarket shelves. 3 Chicks currently sells at local farmers' markets and co-ops.

Everyone celebrated the giant check with broccoli and hummus.

We'll be checking back with 3 Chicks and a P in a few months to see how they're doing.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Three Chicks and a P Sunmark Startup Grant entry
+ A giant check for the Radix Center (last year's winner)
+ Sunmark Startup update: The Radix Center

Closing the "reassurance gap" in downtown Albany

north pearl street 2012-08-08

Yesterday Jerry Jennings and a group of downtown Albany business people stood in Albany City Hall to reassure everyone that the Pearl Street area is on the edge of a major change that will turn the city's downtown into a 24/7 community.

You probably know the reason for this affirmation session: the comment from Ralph Spillenger -- the owner of the Bayou Cafe and the soon-to-be-closed Jillian's -- that his business had failed, in part, because people are afraid to go downtown because of crime.

So, who's right? This situation is complicated because so much of it depends on perception.

But there are ways to make it clearer.

(there's more)

Is St. Joseph's Church a brewery in its next life?

st joseph's church interior 2010

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church during an art exhibition in 2010.

The Historic Albany Foundation has been looking for a use for the former St. Joseph's Church in Albany's Arbor Hill neighborhood since the organization took over the building in 2003.

HAF Executive Director, Susan Holland says they've been pitched everything from a Christian recording company to a goth club -- but, for various reasons, the ideas didn't work out.

Then, not long ago, she heard from a company called Ravens Head Brewing. Its pitch: to turn the old Gothic church into the flagship location for its brewery, and a restaurant/events venue.

(there's more)

The Dark Sky app is now available

dark sky in use

The weather wasn't exactly exciting at this moment. Here's the outlook for a place that was a bit more interesting (meteorologically) at the time.

The Dark Sky weather app -- from Troy-based developers Adam Grossman and Jack Turner (Jackadam) -- is now available in the iTunes Store. The app aims to provide people with very specific weather forecasts for the near future based on location.

The question Dark Sky tries to answer is not "Will it rain tomorrow?" but rather "Will it be raining here during the next hour?" It can help determine if there's enough time for a quick bike ride before a thunderstorm, or how long you have might have wait before you can walk from your office to your car without an umbrella. It can also just satisfy the curiosity of bored meteorology nerds.

Speaking of meteorology nerds, we've been playing around with the app for the last day or so, and it's been kind of fun -- if not always accurate. The radar pictures are super clear and easy to read. And it shows whether the precipitation expected will be heavy, medium or mild. The no-precipitation predictions have been pretty good, and it did signal accurately a few times that rain was approaching. It failed to predict one light sprinkling of rain. (To be fair, we were in a moving car -- and Adam Grossman says that kind of light precipitation can be difficult to detect. And in general, this kind of stuff is harder than it looks.)

If the weather isn't interesting where you are, you can watch storms anywhere in the country.

Dark Sky is available for newer versions of the iPhone (4 and 4s), iPod Touch, and iPad. It's $3.99.

Jackadam funded the development of DarkSky in part by raising more than $39k on Kickstarter back in November. In the process, the app snagged a bunch of media attention (example).

We're looking forward to playing with it more.

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MerchNow

shelves of shirts at MerchNow.jpg

Inside MerchNow's Fuller Road factory

By Siobhan Connally

It's quiet inside the Fuller Road t-shirt factory, but the place is busy. Machines
are carouseling black, long-sleeved sweatshirts as workers oversee the printing and folding and stacking. Thirteen thousand shirts were printed and shipped before the first week of March had ended.

MerchNow makes shirts that bands sell to support themselves on tour. Owners Kate and Steve Reddy employ 95 people, offering a lunch program supplied from local farms and health insurance completely paid for by the company. Their mission is to create a business that sustains people and not just the bottom line.

Merch Now, and its sister enterprises Equal Vision Records and Mantralogy were born out of the punk rock scene and Bhakti yogic practice.

Yes, punk rock and yoga.

(there's more)

The new All Good Bakers location

AGB Britin and Nick.jpg

All Good Bakers Britin and Nick Foster at their new Delaware Avenue location

All Good Bakers is ensconced in its new DelSo home and ready to open its doors.

Nick and Britin Foster and their team will start serving up breads, soups, salads, sandwiches and other goodies starting this Wednesday morning at 8 am.

Here's a peek inside the new place...

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Inside Etsy Hudson

Etsy Hudson. Yep, you want to work there.

By Siobhan Connally

Inside a sprawling, former cannonball factory in Hudson, 17 deeply creative souls mill about quietly creating magic.

Their daily mission? To make Etsy safe for humanity. Well, that and hula-hooping.

Working at Etsy Hudson may be as close to internet superherodom as mere mortals can come.

It also might just be the best job on the planet.

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Albany Distilling Company

albany distilling founders John Curtin and Matthew Jager

John Curtin and Matthew Jager, founders of the new Albany Distilling Company.

Almost every guy thinks about it at one time or another, says Matthew Jager. The "manly dream" of owning a bar. And that's how it all started out.

Matthew, who teaches at The College of Saint Rose's business school, and his buddy John Curtin, a leadership trainer and former English teacher, were hanging out at the Albany Pump Station, having a couple of drinks, when one of them said, "Hey, you know what we should do? We should open a bar!" And the other one said, "Yeah!"

Eighteen months and $300,000 later, they do not own a bar.

Instead, they own a distillery -- The Albany Distilling Company -- in a building right next door to the Albany Pump Station. A few months from now they're hoping to put their white whiskey on the shelves of bars and restaurants around the region.

Have they ever made whiskey before? No. But this little hitch doesn't seem to worry them.

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Is there a happy ending to the story for the Book House and other indie book stores?

book house exterior

If Borders can't make it, can the indies?

When is the last time you bought a book at a bookstore?

Not a virtual bookstore -- an actual, brick and mortar, physical space where you browse and read and walk around and maybe even talk with clerks or other readers bookstore? A place like Market Block, or The Book House --- or heck, even Barnes & Noble.

With Borders shutting down, the ubiquity of Amazon and the rise of the e-reader, we've been curious about -- OK, baffled by-- how independent bookstores manage to keep going.

Susan Novotny, owner of The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza and Market Block Books in Troy gets asked about this all the time.

And some of her answers kind of surprised us.

(there's more)

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I ride every day to work, and also after work for exercise. I love the concept of being a person who happens to ride a bike. There's a level of bike riding, with the high performance gear and sleek clothing, that makes riding seem like its not for everyone. I try to avoid markers like that, and always wear regular clothing/shoes/backpack with dumpy-looking bike. One concession is bike gloves.

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