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Zaida’s Touch, Body by Bellydance
Zaida Morales
505-4604

At some point in life, everyone asks themselves the same question: “What do I want to do when I grow up?” After trying everything under the career moon—from retail management to debt collections to medical-claims insurance adjustor—I asked myself the same question. Doing nails was something I had always enjoyed. I’d done my own since I was 11, so off to cosmetology school I went for my license. However, something was still missing. How about belly dancing?! It is mysterious and sexy—not boring like other dances. Three months later, I found myself fanatical about the dance, and realized that my life was just about complete. I felt positive about myself and my career choice, and I was losing weight as well!

Have you ever noticed how many more women there are in the world than men? Tell me: Why do we allow ourselves to be treated the way we do? In the years I’ve been dancing, I have noticed that belly dancers are so full of love and respect for themselves, others and life. The circle of respect and admiration begins here and is eternal.

Now I feel complete, and I wish to share it with you. Whether it is with a relaxing pedicure, a make-up tip or helping you find the feminine side you always knew you had, call me—we’ll talk. Zaida.

Elissa Halloran Designs
Elissa Halloran
225 Lark St., Albany, 432-7090, www.ehdesigns.com

As I enter my third year of business on Lark Street, I want to say “thank you” to all of my customers for their support.

Having the store has allowed me the good fortune to sell my jewelry to Soledad O’Brien of NBC’s Weekend Today. This is a direct result of word-of-mouth advertising through my customers. I feel very lucky to have someone of her stature appreciate my designs. I have recently launched my Web site, www.ehdesigns.com, where I am selling some designs on a limited basis. I have also been expanding my jewelry line and experimenting with mobile designs. I’m always looking forward to new possibilities.

Precision Tattoo
Christopher Robertson
1571 Central Ave., Colonie, 869-4869

I began tattooing three years ago while I was attending a “stuffy” art school in Iceland, my second home. I’ve always been interested in fine art and painting. One day, during the school year when I was flipping through a tattoo magazine in a local bookstore, I was blown away. I thought what they were doing on skin was only possible on canvas with paints or pencils. The skin became my canvas, and the story begins for Precision Tattoo.

Tattooing has made leaps and bounds since its introduction to America in the early 1900s. From tattooed freaks at carnivals in the ‘20s and ‘30s, tattooing has come a long way. Presently, it is respected more as a legitimate art form. This is largely due to early tattooing talent—the late Paul Rogers, Sailon Jerry and Cliff Raven.

My early influences are Deano Look and Aaron Bell; however, you can find many others in my work as well. All are great artists. I’ve even met some personally at conventions.

We do quality original art here. If that is what you are looking for, Precision Tattoo is for you. So come in, look around and get tattooed! It’s an American tradition.

Stasky Studios
Andrew and Alice Stasky
476 N. Greenbush Road #7, Rensselaer, 283-9325

Stasky Studios offers custom large-format printing on a large selection of media—including wallpaper, fabric, vinyl and canvas. Let us take your favorite photo, piece of artwork or advertisement and reproduce it as a full-color panoramic wall cover, a banner, flag or trade-show visual. We can also reproduce any image as a tile mural for the home or commercial environment.

Stasky Studios offers other services, including giclee printing, artwork and photo enlarging, as well as photograph restorations. We can also reproduce any image on ceramic mugs, shirts, mouse pads and coasters. Don’t have the right photo? Stasky Studios offers full photographic services. We continue to develop alliances with other area businesses in an effort to offer a full-range of printing capabilities. We invite you to “give us your best shot.” Since our business results in some offsite time, we recommend a phone call prior to visiting. All calls are forwarded to our current locations.

El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant I and II
Patty Bermejo-Bhola and Marco Bermejo
144 Washington Ave., Albany, 465-2568, 289 Hamilton At., Albany, 432-7580

We began our family business in the Capital Region almost seven years ago. We are from the city of Pueblo, just south of Mexico. I (Patty Bermejo-Bhola) come from a family of five brothers who all have been in the restaurant business in New York City for nearly 20 years. With the strong family tradition that our parents taught us, we managed to start up an authentic Mexican Restaurant in the Capital Region. We now run two locations in the downtown Albany area. Recently we moved El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant I, from 62 Central Ave. to 144 Washington Ave. At the 289 Hamilton Street location, we put into practice my brother’s expertise in Spanish cuisine, adding the paella dishes and other traditional seafood dishes from Southern Spain.

Here at El Mariachi, our menu typifies the foods from our hometown and other Mexican states. Our recipes have been handed down from generation to generation, starting with our great-grandmothers. Some of our favorite dishes include Pollo San Marco, Mole Poblano (an authentic dish from Puebla), Cochinita Pibil and the seafood Paella dishes. The Cochinita Pibil has been selected as “Dish of the Year” (Times Union) and our tequila selection (over 100 choices) and special house-flavor margaritas are among our customers’ favorites. I want to thank all of our loyal customers for voting us No. 1, six years in a row, and to my family who stand together to keep our family business growing.

Bel Tesoro

Philip Palmieri, Scott McIntosh
126 Central Ave., Albany, 463-2991, www.beltesoro.com

Bel Tesoro is leading the renaissance on Central Avenue with our stunning array of beautiful Italian treasures for gifts and the home. Whether it is Venetian glass jewelry made by today’s leading glass artisans or Deruta ceramics (hand-painted ceramics employing centuries-old techniques), every piece has a story—and we love telling them!

The essence of these pieces is the “Dolce Vita”—the “Sweet of Life.” Why would you settle for drab, mundane and ordinary when you can surround yourself with extraordinary, interesting and inspired? We believe we have created an extraordinary little slice of Dolce Vita right here on Central Avenue in our fully restored brownstone. So, whether you want luxurious linens, sumptuous lotions and perfumes, fun and funky kitchenware, or a unique and memorable gift, join us at Bel Tesoro and bring a little sweetness to your life.

Mensroom Barbershop
Ryan Peterson, Jerry Crouch
54 Columbia St., Albany, 449-1400

My partner and I have been cutting hair since middle school. We met in the business world 10 years later while working at a barbershop together. As he is from Averill Park and I am from Rotterdam, we decided to meet halfway and set up shop in downtown Albany. We recognized a growing city with many professional men and women that had several salons that catered to women exclusively. We saw an opportunity to develop a barbershop by men, for men.

At the Mensroom Barbershop, we concentrate on recreating that traditional barbershop feeling. A man of any age can get a classic cut or a modern hairstyle, while feeling confident that he will leave with the perfect cut. Additionally, we offer the quality, consistency and convenience of a master barber at your service. Call or stop by today to experience the Mensroom.

Gem Farms Buffalo Trading Post and Gift Shop
Gerry and George Mosick
1333 Van Hosen Road, South Schodack, 732-7452, www.gemfarmbuffalo.com

Who would think you could find live buffalo roaming in fields only 10 miles south of Albany? It was a dream that George and I acted on when we bought our first three buffalo in 1974; we now boast more than 200 head of buffalo.

Buffalo have non-marbled, low-fat, low-cholesterol red meat. Our customers, many of whom are unable to eat red meat, love our buffalo meat. Heart patients are referred to our buffalo meat, as well as others on special diets. Others want to enjoy the benefits of red meat with no chemicals, hormones or antibiotics.

Buffalo meat tastes like beef, only a bit sweeter. You are getting more protein per ounce with buffalo, because there is no fat.

George and I have been on the farm for more than 52 years. It is a family affair, with our eldest son in partnership with the dairy business. He has a son, Sam, who is anxious to help carry on the family business, as well. Our goal is to coordinate David’s vegetables—which normally go to farmers’ markets—with David’s wife, Melody’s greenhouse vegetable plants and flowers, our sweet corn and our buffalo business. Visitors stop at our Gem Farms Buffalo Trading Post and Gift Shop for more than just meat: We sell a selection ranging from bleached skulls, buffalo robes, mounted buffalo heads, mugs, T-shirts, Leanin’ Tree cards, and even buffalo bones for dogs, for your one-stop shopping adventure!

Earthworld Comics
JC Glindmyer
537 Central Ave., Albany, 459-2400

Comic books are an original American art form, created during the Depression era as affordable entertainment for the masses. In the years since, comics’ unique blend of words and pictures have matured and changed with the times, while providing us with some of the most enduring characters and stories in our popular culture. Thanks to films like Road to Perdition, X-Men 2 and Spider Man, plus television shows like Smallville, comics have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.

Earthworld is Albany’s preeminent comic store. This year, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary! Our wide selection of books, toys and anime will satisfy every collector. Additionally, our knowledgeable staff is there to help as needed. Ranging in subject matter from superhero adventures to slice of life to crime noir to humor, there’s a comic out there for everyone.

If it has been years since you have read a comic, we invite you to come see us on Saturday, May 3, when we will be celebrating with 2,000 other comic stores worldwide for Free Comic Book Day 2! When you visit on May 3, you will find a great variety of free comics. There are comics for children, families and adults, and especially for people who think they would never read a comic book. Come by on May 3 and let us change your mind—free!

Super Video
Lisa and Terry Field
1839 Central Ave., Albany, 869-6292, www.super-video.com

We love movie lovers! And after spending nearly $2 million over the past 16 years, Super Video has a huge library that movie lovers will love. With more than 8,000 DVDs and 30,000 movies, plus games and audio books to rent, Super Video is the Capital region’s largest independent video store. It has been voted “Best Video Store” by both Metroland and the Times Union.

Besides our huge selection, I think people will enjoy our great customer service. Longtime staffers like Steve, Matt, Tim, Jon, Barb, Carrie, Rachel and Julie give the store a friendly, knowledgeable atmosphere that makes movie renting fun.

In keeping with our service-oriented philosophy, Super Video has created an informative Web site where customers can learn about the latest new movies and games each week. Check it out at, www.super-video.com, and be sure to visit our Super Video soon!

Furniture Theatre
Ed and Tom Caro
2785 Route 9, Malta, 587-9420 (Furniture Theatre), 587-6077 (Malta Drive-In), www.maltadrivein.com
Pictured: Ed Caro, Michelle Davis and Tom Caro

We’ve realized our dream of combining viewing movies on the big screen and adding comfort to people’s homes with stylish furniture and accessories between our two businesses, Furniture Theatre and Malta Drive-In.

The legacy of drive-in movies has been kept alive with our ownership of the classic Malta Drive-In Theatre since 1988. Malta Drive-In is one of a few upstate New York drive-ins still in operation today. Complete with speakers that pipe-in movie dialogue, and snack choices from hamburgers to popcorn, today’s popular movies can be seen from the comfort of your own car.

At Furniture Theatre, we wanted to bring that feeling of comfort and style to your home by offering distinctive furnishings, such as Adirondack lodge-style, at affordable prices. So we built an award-designed furniture store in September 2001. Furniture Theatre gives a cozy feel with groupings of comfy couches and music piped into all areas through vintage drive-in speakers. Come in and browse in our relaxing atmosphere.

El Loco
Marcia Tolive
465 Madison Ave., Albany, 436-1855
Pictured: Jen, Jennifer, Pam, Michael and Marcia

Has it really been 20 years? This October, for El Loco, it will be! The Lark Street area has flip-flopped a few times since 1983, but here at El Loco, we keep doing what we do best. El Loco provides a fun, convenient meeting place, serving tasty and healthy Mexican and Southwestern fare, great margaritas, Mexican beers and homemade sangria; all complemented by a competent service staff in a richly decorated “South of the Border” environment.

People and a sense of community are what makes small, privately owned restaurants and shops the heart of the American landscape. We’re planning a big benefit bash for El Loco’s 20th birthday. It will feature a gathering of past and present employees and customers—so many of whom have contributed to the craziness over the years! We hope you can all attend our benefit party come October 2003. Thanks again for the years of support and good vibes.

M. Tolive

Diamond Eight Billiards
Irene Skawinski
9 Johnson Road, Latham, 789-848, www.diamondeight.com

Have a party at Diamond Eight! Sure, every night is reason to celebrate at Diamond Eight, but we can also help you make your parties, from birthdays to holidays, something to remember! With 17 full-sized pool tables, a billiard table, a raised 35-foot full-service bar, electronic darts, foosball and video games, Diamond Eight Billiards is the ideal place for your special event. Ask to see our party menu and discounted table time rates.

Sunday, July 13th, we are sponsoring the 3rd Annual Edward M. Skawinski Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Capital Region. Golf will be played at the Fairways of Halfmoon with the “19th Hole” party held at Diamond Eight. This year will feature many great raffle prizes, all for a great cause! Please see our Web site, www.diamondeight.com, for more information.

Join us every Monday for karaoke with Mark “The Shark,” and Tuesdays for our weekly 9-Ball Tournament. Ask about our daily drink specials! See you soon!

Tipperary at Tara
Thomas and Nancy McGrath
3956 NY2-Brunswick Road, Troy, 279-8272, www.tipperarytrading.com

The McGrath family is proud of their reputation for service and friendly atmosphere. We have provided customers with the widest choice imaginable in authentic Irish jewelry and fine gifts since 1979. Tom has served as a fine-arts judge on several occasions, by invitation of Crafts Council Ireland. Nancy has recently presented at a small business forum in Dublin.

Find the largest display of Belleek China in the region, authentic Irish sweaters, clothing, religious goods, Irish crystal, Celtic music, books, baby gifts and christening outfits. The Blackthorn Gallery has framed prints, original paintings, bronzes, pottery and Celtic rugs from Dublin; the gallery is a must for those interested in acquiring fine art from Ireland.

Tara’s jewelry department features Ireland’s most noted designers. Wedding bands, claddagh rings, commitment rings, pins, pendants and bracelets make up the region’s most comprehensive selection of authentic Irish-made jewelry. Our customers deserve the best and we strive to provide it for them every day!

Eyedentity Eyewear LLC
Marie Coluccio and Loretta Ackerman
1315 Central Ave., Albany, 459-2638

Celebrating the start of our fourth year of business, Marie Coluccio and I (Loretta Ackerman), invite you to stop in and see what thousands of people have already discovered: an upscale, trendy optical boutique in the heart of the Capital Region.

Visit our beautiful showroom in Colonie and browse through unique eyewear lines generally reserved for optical boutiques in large metropolitan areas.

Kickback and relax on our overstuffed chairs while enjoying a cup of cappuccino. Marie and I will be happy to show you frames from European designers and discuss the latest, state-of-the-art technology in lens design.

Whether your goal is to update your eyewear look, or you are trying to get that Buddy Holly or Elton John image, you’ll find you can create your own identity at Eyedentity. Eyedentity Eyewear—it is what sets you apart!

*Voted Best Optical by Metroland 2002
**Small Business Admissions Excellence in Business Award 2001

Natural Order Stained Glass and Antique Showroom
Candace Blodgett
165 River St., Troy, 272-5666, natord@nycap.rr.com

Natural Order Stained Glass Studio and Antique Showroom began two years ago when I downsized my life, sold most of what I owned, closed my real estate appraisal business and moved to Troy. I needed to define my life closer to my heart and creative energies. I rented a small shop and opened the stained-glass studio. Before long, the shop windows began filling with glass designs and folks began to notice. As people came into the studio, someone approached a grouping of furniture I had arranged to sit down and design work. Next thing I knew, these items began to sell in addition to the stained glass. Suddenly, Natural Order Antiques and Showroom was born. I stayed in my little shop for a year while business and the antique district were steadily growing in Troy. Last June, I moved into the 2,000 square-foot studio and showroom on River Street.

I feature local, regional and personally imported (from Europe) antique furniture and accessories. There is a large assortment of vintage and new stained-glass panels, lamps and custom-design work made in the studio. I love what I do!

Profile Hair Design
Theresa Spinelli
1830 Western Ave., Albany, 218-0587

Profile Hair Design moved to its Guilderland location almost four years ago. It has gradually become a boutique that carries the works of over 30 artists, both local and nationwide. Among our many items, you will find hand-crafted jewelry, clothing (including FLAX, Salaam and Fat Hat), kiln-fired glass coasters and soap dishes, hand-made paper frames, lotions, soaps and candles, silk ties, handbags by Maruca and more.

The time and effort that I have spent transitioning the salon into a salon/boutique has been rewarded many times over by the compliments of a satisfied clientele. I have received much positive feedback from referrals and people who tell me they prefer the relaxed and intimate atmosphere of my boutique, compared to the chaos of a mall.

One of my goals is to continue to provide my clientele with outstanding service and products made with quality craftsmanship.

We invite you to come in and check it out. There is always a lot of great new stuff!

Mexican Connection
Johanna and Jason Friedman
41 Nelson Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4466, www.mexconx.com

Every night is a fiesta at the Mexican Connection Restaurant and Cantina! Join us for great food and fantastic margaritas in a fun, casual setting located across the street from the racetrack. Everything on our menu is homemade-to-order by Donna (our chef for the past 15 years). Our entire menu is available for take-out.

We have a full bar featuring 50 types of 100 percent blue agave tequila, the area’s largest selection of premium sipping tequila. Additionally, we have a large selection of imported and domestic beer, including 10 kinds from Mexico.

We recently purchased the restaurant after working there for the past two years, and just revamped the bar area with the help of local designer Flora Garrett. Also, a beautiful mural was painted by local artist Miguel Hoyos. Please come in and enjoy great food and drink in a warm, friendly atmosphere. Viva la tequila!

Compliments to the Chef
Andrea and Dave LaFrance
488 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 226-4477

Compliments to the Chef opened with a bang July 4th. We have since strived hard to offer our customers a wide array of common cooking items, as well as the not-so-common. We are a complete kitchen store, featuring Wusthof and Henckle cutlery, Viking and All-Clad cookware, and Le Crueset and Emile Henry bakeware. If you do not see what you are looking for, just ask and we would be happy to find your item and special-order it for you. Our goal is to keep you cooking by providing you with the right tools at an affordable price, and exceptional service.

We look forward to your visit!

Dave and Andrea LaFrance

Hattie’s Restaurant
Beth and Jasper Alexander
45 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 584-4790, www.hattiesrestaurant.com

Hattie’s remains one of Saratoga’s historic landmarks, specializing in Southern and Louisiana cuisine since 1938. In our two years of ownership, we have enjoyed two successful Mardi Gras parties and are looking forward to our second annual Kentucky Derby Party, an authentic crawfish boil and of course, the upcoming track season.

Hattie’s has always been known for its fried chicken and fresh biscuits. Not wanting to change a formula that has worked for over 60 years, chef Jasper kept the same menu and added new specials such as chicken and dumplings, Jasper’s famous macaroni and cheese and daily fresh fish specials. We have also designed a wine list to include diverse and exciting wines to compliment our cuisine. We also offer takeout, catering and box lunches for the track or SPAC.

In the spring and summer months, come dine New Orleans-style in our magical covered courtyard, or stop by our late-night bar for a mojito or orange martini. Our main dining room is open all year and remains timeless in its charm. Whether you’re looking for a traditional Southern dinner or some good old-fashioned soul food, Hattie’s is the place to be! We are proud to carry on such a wonderful Saratoga tradition and hope you’ll stop by soon to see what all the hype is about!

Cerasun Video
Ian McGaughey
Saratoga Springs, 316-1613, www.cerasun.com/business

It is hard to beat the power of marketing with video. Whether on tape, DVD, or on the Web, video is a terrific way to reach customers, generate interest and train employees.

Cerasun Video is a full-service video production company serving the Capital Region and beyond with affordable, professional video production for businesses, schools and organizations.

I (Ian McGaughey) founded Cerasun Video in 1997. Ian is an award-winning videographer and 10-year veteran of professional broadcast television. He has done work for NBC, ABC, ESPN, CNN, Oprah and Inside Edition, to name a few.

From promotional and informational videos to company profiles and commercials, Cerasun Video can create a high-end product designed to meet your specific goals—on time and for less than you may think.

Contact Ian today to discover how Cerasun Video can help your business, school or organization grow.

Ray Supply, Inc.
Mike Timko, Keith Zoll and Mark Rogers
871 Route 9, Queensbury, 792-5848, www.rayssupply.com

For 69 years, Ray Supply has offered the finest in photo and electronic products as well as service and installation. The best people, products and prices have helped our business grow every year. Although our photographic department, the largest in upstate New York, and our TV/audio/home theater product sales have been great, the place we have experienced the most growth is our home commercial installation. Our attitude—no job is too small or large—combined with quality, dependable service all at unbeatable prices, has us working from the Northern Adirondacks to the Capital District.

Home theater, whole-house audio systems and residential projection, plasma and LCD TVs have become important additions to homes. Sound and video are part of our business. Our customers tell us, because of our competitive prices, the best brands in the business and unsurpassed service, they will not shop anywhere else. Come see us, you’ll be glad you did.

Hair Loss Restoration and Removal Services
Walter D. Frasier and Linda LaBarge
1710 Central Ave., Colonie, 456-7775 or (800) 872-0790, www.hairloss.com

HRS is an ever-expanding salon for the private and undetectable treatment of any and all hair-loss problems. After 20 years in the business and 15 years as a nurse, I have assembled the most knowledgeable and recognized salon for the topical restoration of hair loss in the Albany area. We serve satisfied clients from Florida to California.

I take great pride in my work and I’m always searching for better ways to do our job. Product education and training is very important to me.

Two years ago, HRS expanded into the field of permanent hair removal with the purchase of a “transcutaneous” hair removal machine. This machine enables the technician to remove hair from 12 two-by-four inch areas at one time. The machine is painless, non-invasive, comfortable and effective. Scarring and infections are a thing of the past.

My staff and I invite you to stop in and see our salon. We will talk about your hair loss or hair removal problem.

Focus on Fitness
Josh Khachadourian
Clifton Park Center, Clifton Park, 723-2222
301 Dix Ave., Queensbury, 745-1111, www.focusonfitness.net

Now in its fourth year of operation, Focus on Fitness continues to offer quality fitness equipment for use in home or commercial settings, all at great prices. Our vision at Focus on Fitness: We want our customers to get into their best shape, feel great and enjoy life. I love it when people tell us how much younger they feel and how much better they look since they first stopped in. It is a great feeling to improve the quality of life for our customers.

The niche we have created is not only to help people choose what equipment is right for them, but also to develop individual programs that help them achieve their specific fitness goals. Our entire staff truly educates beginners as well as help advanced fitness enthusiasts.

If you have not seen us lately, we have some new models in our line of elliptical machines and bikes, in addition to updated versions of our already strong line of treadmills. If it is strength training you are looking for, check out our individual strength pieces as well as our attractive multi-station gyms that I think you will find surprisingly affordable.

Whatever your fitness needs may be, we look forward to helping you find your best fit!

Pinnacle Behavioral Health
Laura A. Hunt
1 Pinnacle Behavioral Place, Albany, 689-0244
Pictured: Deborah Sweeny, Laura A. Hunt and Sherrie Szoke

Pinnacle Behavioral Health is an outpatient behavioral healthcare company providing ambulatory, non-hospital psychiatric treatment to those experiencing emotional or behavioral disorders. In this practice a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or social worker provides treatment, whether individually or as a team. I (Laura Hunt), ACSW-R, am the founder and sole owner of Pinnacle Behavioral Health, located in Albany.

The vision for Pinnacle Behavioral Health is to create an atmosphere of respect and caring for the dignity of each and every client that is in need of our service. In contrast to many mental health programs, we have designed a treatment milieu that is warm and inviting, helping to de-stigmatize mental health treatment.

What enables us to be unique is the specialized programs we offer to adolescents and adults. We are able to provide crisis care within 48 hours, for counseling and medication management.

We accept most insurance plans, so please call to schedule an appointment.

Vanilla Bean Baking Company
Debbie and Carl Alberino
216 Fourth St., Troy, 272-8605, 573 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 489-3216
521 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, 782-2326
(Pictured: Chefs Gerardo and Kate Tona, Will McDonough, Jason Pixley and Jim Patricelle)

Celebrating our fifth year in Latham, the Vanilla Bean Bakery Café proudly showcases our culinary team.

We have three California Culinary Academy (CCA) graduates on staff from San Francisco, one homegrown family member and one Boston Culinary School graduate. Together they have created a wonderful dining experience in our café, for your pleasure.

Please try us; whether it is your first visit or you have tried us before, we are so proud of our culinary team.

We have the popular favorites and daily breakfast, lunch and dinner specials. We now serve wine and beer to enjoy in our café. Our service is attentive and friendly. We stay open seven days a week, 7 AM to 9 PM (10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays). Do not miss our full-line bakery with award-winning pastries and cakes.

Clayton’s
Olive and Evril Clayton
244 Washington Ave., Albany, 426-4360
Pictured: Olive Clayton

Evril and I (Olive Clayton) were living in Westchester County and dreaming of opening a Caribbean restaurant. There were so many Caribbean restaurants in the New York City area that it did not seem like a good idea to open a restaurant there. Our nephew was a student at SUNY Albany, and told us about this area. We paid Albany a visit, saw this location and thought it was perfect. Clayton’s was established in 1995.

Clayton’s is a family-run restaurant serving authentic, homemade Caribbean and Spanish food. Our chef from Santo Domingo prepares our Spanish fare. The most popular dish is the Jamaican jerk chicken; we also feature an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Metroland, five years in a row, has awarded us Best Caribbean Food in the Capital Region. We serve generous portions at reasonable prices. Our goal is to accommodate all our customers’ needs and make everyone feel welcome.

In the future we would like to expand the catering business and add a banquet room to the restaurant.

The Counties of Ireland
Robin McDonough
13 Second St., Troy, 687-0054

Located in historic downtown Troy, The Counties of Ireland offers a unique line of Irish clothing, accessories and giftware. All of our lines, except for two that are made in the U.S.A., are manufactured and imported from Ireland. Authenticity is very important to me.

Since opening in June 2000, The Counties of Ireland has explored a contemporary look in traditional Irish clothing, jewelry, giftware, etc. Of course, we still offer the traditional lines. We just want people to know that there are different options out there besides the traditional, white Aran knit sweaters.

No matter what nationality or age you are, The Counties of Ireland invites you to visit our shop. Have a mug of tea and experience a bit of Ireland.

Shades of Green
Nieves Gonzales-Montejano and Dennis Luke Phayre
187 Lark Street, Albany, 434-1830

Husband and wife owners, Dennis and I (Nieves), began Shades of Green—a gourmet, vegetarian restaurant voted Metroland’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant from 1995 through 2002—shortly after we met twelve years ago in the old Honest Weight Food Coop on Quail Street. I am a native of Spain and my husband is a Bronx-born Irishman. Together we have created a very unique and popular downtown eatery that serves a wide variety of delicious and healthy foods.

We originally began our business as a very small take-out shop with three stools and no experience. Essentially we learned it the hard way. Everything was made fresh daily. Our rapidly growing popularity quickly outpaced our ability to produce enough food.

But success also came, in part, from our inexperience. We knew how to create delicious, healthy foods for ourselves, so when it came time to make it for everyone else, that is how we made it: We make it like we were making it for ourselves. We do not skimp on any of our ingredients and do not use any second-rate products as well. Quality is always first, and always has come first for us. That is what has accounted for our success more than anything else.

SinglesOnly
Bill Herzog (Chief Technology Officer), John Rudick (Chief Marketing Officer), Jim Bard (President)
www.SinglesOnly.net

Formed in late 2002, SinglesOnly is the first online matchmaking company to integrate Web-based dating services with face-to-face interaction for its members. They are also the first to bring “speed-dating” to the Capital District, which is a “round-robin” style of meeting many people in one night through a series of mini-dates. SinglesOnly is preparing to revolutionize the dating scene for the local population of busy professionals who are disillusioned with blind dates and the drab singles scene.

The rapid-fire sequence of speed-dating allows singles an opportunity to meet 11 other singles for seven-minute dates in the course of one thrilling evening. The fast-paced cycles of quick dates will be set in local restaurants, taverns, museums and shops. Finally there is a fun and exhilarating way of meeting potential love interests, in a safe and supervised environment.

SinglesOnly’s fully interactive Web site, www.SinglesOnly.net, provides a place to register for events and will eventually host a fully integrated private e-mail system to allow members of its community to the resource center for local, single individuals to go for articles on dating, upcoming events, etc.

Saso’s Japanese Noodle House
Yasuo and Kathy Saso
218 Central Ave., Albany, 436-7789, www.sasos.com

Yasuo and I met while working together at a Japanese restaurant in 1990. Our love of the restaurant business, Japanese cuisine and each other, led us to marriage and the dream of someday opening our own small restaurant. On May 30, 1996, that dream came true with the opening of Saso’s Japanese Noodle House, a cozy place with great food and service.

Chef Saso started as a young apprentice in a sushi restaurant in Chiba, Japan. He became a skilled sushi chef and earned his Japanese license in 1975. In addition to sushi, his cooking experiences in Japan include traditional Japanese cuisine and the specialized, exquisite cooking and art form called Kaiseki Ryori.

As chef-owner, Saso has the opportunity to combine his skills and creatively produce and serve the highest quality Japanese cuisine in the area, using the freshest ingredients available. Since opening, Saso’s has been chosen Best Japanese and Best Sushi (by Metroland), and Best Soup (by Times Union) in the Capital Region.

The Art of Belly Dancing Instruction & Performance
Habiba (Donna Marie Floyd)
436-9333, www.bellydanceny.com/p_habiba.html

I had been a belly dancer for several years. I began my teaching career after being approached several times by people wanting to learn the dance from me.

Belly dancing is a celebration of femininity, with movements natural to the body: Undulating, almost meditative, soul-stirring, rhythmic and energizing, providing a low-impact workout for the entire body.

In choosing an instructor, potential students should ask for credentials. For those desiring more in-depth study, I possess the skills necessary to guide and inspire you to discover your own unique style.

I have performed at wedding receptions, children’s parties, anniversaries, etc., for diverse audiences. Some past appearances include Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Manhattan’s Ibis Supper Club, and the Organization of African Unity to the United Nations.

I offer beginner and continuing level classes and private coaching. Even beginning students can enjoy learning simple choreographies, finger-cymbals and dancing with silk veils. For the dedicated student, performance opportunities are also available with my ensemble. The dance can be enjoyed by women and girls of all ages and fitness levels.

In Albany you can always try your first class for free. Call to register and receive a brochure. Troy classes begin on April 22.

Sanctuary B. Salon
Bettina Mamone
116 Wolf Road, Albany, 482-8884

Sanctuary B. is all about our clients. My goal was to open a salon that made clients feel special and pampered.

Starting with the upscale physical setting, we have made every effort to provide state-of-the-art services in a private, comfortable and congenial environment.

Our staff prides themselves on developing a professional, personal relationship with each client; questions about new styles, products and services are answered with their particular needs in mind. Continuing education for staff, including participation in demonstrations, attending classes and meeting with product representatives allow the staff to provide innovative, upbeat services, all in a timely fashion.

The response has been gratifying. We were awarded “Salon of the Year” in 2000 by Modern Salon Magazine and “Best of 2001” by Metroland. Additionally, our stylists have worked with Channel Co. News, ABC Sports and various media personalities.

If you want to be treated special and look great, call Sanctuary B. for an appointment.

Saratoga National Golf Club
Tom Newkirk, Bob Howard, Tony Malatino and Scot Thomas
458 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-4653, www.golfsratoga.com
Pictured: Addy Waldie (Director of Sales), Peter Tavares (Director of Golf), Larry Schepici (Executive Chef)

Normally, when a foursome makes plans to play golf, they reserve a tee time, set their alarms, and off they go. These guys? They built their own golf course!

The four joined forces several years ago to create 18 holes of championship golf and a four-star dining destination in Saratoga Springs. When they started, none of them had any serious background in the business of golf. What they did share was a love of the game and a dream to create a place where everyone could experience golf at its best.

So they enlisted the help of famed golf course architect, Roger Rulewich, who designed a challenging course with classic features. Then, they built a grand Victorian-style clubhouse that caters to golfers, diners and events alike.

The result is an upscale, luxurious experience that is accessible to everyone. Even that casual foursome set the alarm and go!

C & V Distributing (A Division of Payless Beverage)
Michael Vinci, owner, and Frank Crisafulli, general sales manager
1021 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, 713-2033
Pictured: Tino Santoro, Ray Kirby, Frank Crisafull, Lucia and Mike Vinci

Having been in the beer business for more than 14 years, Frank Crisafulli and I (Michael Vinci) saw a niche that needed to be filled. The consolidation of beer distributors by big breweries and the downsizing of the variety of beers carried by these distributors have left retailers fewer options in where to purchase their products and what they can offer consumers. I have owned and operated Delmar, Weigel and Payless Beverage for many years and decided to join forces with Crisafulli to fulfill this niche. The result is C & V Distributing: a specialty beer distributor looking to cater to the needs of retailers, bars and restaurants that want an alternative to the “big boys.” Frank Crisafulli’s family has operated Westmere and Oliver’s Beverage for many years and recently owned Albany Craft Beer Distributors, sold in 2000. Carrying American microbrews such as Dogfish Head, Shipyard, Grant’s, Dixie Voodoo and more, we are certainly accomplishing our goals.

If you own a bar or restaurant and are looking for something different to offer your customers, or you want to offer the kind of service a small local distributor can provide, please give us a call. Retail customers should be sure to stop into one of our many local beverage centers to see the variety of beers we offer.

Oak Hill
Victoria Crosby
15 Cresant Drive, Castleton, 732-4675

I recently opened this full-service recording and photo studio for vocalists, instrumentalists, bands, DJs and models, dubbed Oak Hill Productions, in Castleton, New York. You can record your demo in a professional atmosphere in our comfortable studio. Immediately after recording, you will receive a CD, and if you so choose, a DVD, cassette and VHS tape, in a portfolio with photos. Our models also receive a portfolio with 8” by 10” photos immediately after the photo shoot. Our rates are competitive and reasonable. Customers will enjoy the relaxed settings. Our goal is to provide our customers with a high quality product. Customer satisfaction is our motto!

State of Grace
Grace Liney
11 Second St., Troy, 272-1055

What to do, what to do? That was the question I faced last fall when the company I worked for relocated out of the Capital District. The answer . . . State of Grace! To own a clothing and gift shop has always been a dream and since I opened last December, I have never looked back. My goal was to create a store with unique clothing and gifts that you will not find over and over again in the mall. I also wanted to be sure that people felt welcome to stop in and just browse, say hello and feel that there was not any pressure to buy. I hope that my goal is a reality for everyone who stops by State of Grace.


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