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You know what they say about plans: Man plans and God laughs.

Bensonhurst resident Tina Panariello knows this better than most. She just wanted to be an actress, and set out to realize that dream. But, instead, she embarked on a life journey that took her from stage, to home-business owner, to struggling mom, to acclaimed artist. And now she begins a new life as author and mentor, telling her personal story of career evolution, and the trials and tribulations of living life, owning businesses in New York City, and how an obsessed hobbyist turned pro by mere happenstance – all in her autobiography, Polished: Filing Away At Life’s Truths.

Panariello was 11 years old when her mother chose to move her from her Manhattan home near the East River to Brooklyn, settling down in the Marlboro Projects in 1957. She attended Lafayette High School while she worked as an executive secretary. Eventually, Panariello moved on to get a two-year degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Panariello had a career in acting sparked after landing the lead role in Cabaret at Staten Island Community College. Her love of the stage eventually swayed Panariello to go into acting full-time, and she auditioned for roles both on- and off-Broadway. She owned her own children’s theater group and joined the Narrows Community Theater (NCT) for a time, during which she got pregnant with her son, Wayne.

Getting into the nail art industry was something that happened naturally for Panariello. When their son was young, she and her husband had a home jewelry business. Panariello spent her spare time dabbling with the small-canvas art of painting nails, and eventually her jewelry customers noticed the art on her own fingertips and wanted it for themselves. It started out small with several clients who she’d visit in their homes. From there, her business grew. Eventually Panariello decided to open a store called Nail Artistry by Tina, then located on 20th Avenue.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the store. During the late 80’s, the economy crashed, leaving Panariello with a struggling business.

“I almost lost my business. It was horrible. So, I had to make a decision. I had to go find a job,” Panariello said. “Between the salon and the job in Manhattan I was able to put food on the table for my son. That is how I did it. There was no other way.”

Panariello bounced back and eventually moved her business to another store at 2344 86th Street and has been there ever since.

Panariello has accomplished much in her 33 years of nail artistry, including being a nail art educator for OPI, a leading nail polish manufacturer and distributor. She has won several awards for her hand-painted nail art and has gone on to judge competitions.

The job has taken her to some exotic locations.

When Panariello was working in the city, for example, she met a woman who was impressed with her work and offered her an opportunity to teach a class in Puerto Rico. Panariello was flown to San Juan where she did several events, including television appearances. Panariello describes the trip as “the greatest part of her career.”

Panariello didn’t choose to write an autobiography. Originally, she wanted to make an art book and had contacted a publisher about that. When they responded, the publisher wanted something different then what Panariello had originally planned on making. They wanted her to write a story about her life.

Two years later and her book is ready to be released nationwide on July 2, 2013.

After accomplishing so much, Panariello is moving on to the next chapter of her life: mentoring. She has already been to a Brooklyn school to do just that and is planning to go to several other schools as well.

“I want to mentor. I want to speak to people of all ages and inspire them to go after their dreams because I did it and at the time I didn’t realize that everybody you meet in life mentors you whether you know it or not,” Panariello said.

Paraniello will have a book signing this Thursday, May 2, at St. Athanasius Elementry School, located at 6120 Bay Parkway, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

To learn more about Tina Paraniello, visit her website here.

A new store called Home Textile has opened on 6816 18th Avenue between 69th Street and 68th Street.

The store displays an eye-catching banner announcing it’s grand-opening and the 65 percent off sale.

Home Textile stands where J&A Gift Shop once was.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

Kohl’s Is Open!


The day devoted Kohl’s lovers have been waiting for has finally arrived. Kohl’s is open!

The Ceasar’s Bay Kohl’s, located at 8973 Bay Parkway, opened on Sunday, April 7, and welcomed back a large crowd of eager shoppers.

The parking lot was filled to a point that is far from common, with the store not being any less crowded. In fact, the line to pay was so long that it went around the inside of the store. Of course, that still didn’t stop me from knocking the dust off of my Kohl’s charge card and racking up some debt.

The Ceasar’s Bay Kohl’s was closed after Superstorm Sandy hit last fall. Other stores in the shopping complex suffered as well, including Toys ‘R’ Us, but Kohl’s was the latest to re-open.

A large group of people gathered to observe a parade that passed 18th Avenue and 68th Street last Friday evening. The parade was held to celebrate Good Friday and is seen in the video above which was posted on Youtube by usaruscom.

According to Home Reporter, the procession was led by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. They write:

The annual event is organized by the parishes of St. Athanasius, St. Bernadette, St. Dominic, St. Finbar, St. Frances Cabrini, St. Mary Mother of Jesus, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Rosalia/Regina Pacis and Sts. Simon & Jude, along with the Knights of Columbus, and wends its way from 16th Avenue and 65th Street throughout the area, ending at Regina Pacis church at 65th Street and 12th Avenue.

Photo by Erica Sherman

City Councilman David Greenfield believes that the lack of proper knowledge on laws and codes is the reason many small businesses are getting “gotcha” tickets and has proposed a bill to stop this.

The bill would make it so that businesses have to be provided with a guide of the laws and codes that apply to them. The bill would would have agencies sending out guides four times a year to businesses as well as posting the guide online and making updates to any changes.

Greenfield states in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

This legislation would make it much easier for business owners of all types to understand exactly what rules they need to abide by to keep the public safe and to avoid receiving fines. I have heard from so many frustrated business owners about how difficult and expensive it is to operate in New York City, so I will continue to fight on their behalf to make it fairer for all sides

According to the article, while the president of the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, Jim Clarke, believes the bill is a good idea, he also feels sending out all the notices will be costly to the city and suggests the be done through e-mail to save money.

Bensonhurst has a new addition to its deli family with the opening of Not Only Bagels on 7821 17th Avenue, between 78th Street and 79th Street.

The store now stands in what was once Palermitana Bakery.

As the name not-so-subtly advertises, the shop serves more than just bagels, dishing out a whole smörgåsbord of food from breakfast favorites to tacos and tortas.

So if you’re in the area, stop by the place and tell us if it’s worth going to more than once.

After Sandy, Toys’R’Us installed a temporary warehouse in time for the holiday season. Kohl’s wasn’t able to, and missed out on the holidays. They’ll return April 7. (Photo: Elle Spektor)

After the damage Superstorm Sandy caused to the Ceasar’s Bay Kohl’s, locals, like me, have felt a void in their hearts without the store. Their Kohl’s charge cards have collected dust. The ads on TV were a cruel reminder of what was no more.

Luckily, Kohl’s lovers everywhere can rejoice! The store, located at 8973 Bay Parkway, is reopening on April 7 for all to enjoy.

Kohl’s was one of the worst hit by Sandy in late October, shortly after completing a renovation to much of the store. The storm caused damage to several other stores, including Toys’R’Us, which has moved into a different building in Ceasar’s Bay.

After months of waiting the beloved store will open its doors to a community that welcomes it back with open arms.

The busy 86th Street has a new addition to its family. Closeout Heaven, located on 2215 86th Street between Bay Parkway and 23rd Avenue, opened up two months ago in the place of Bay Gifts.

The store features clothing from designer labels such as Adidas and Puma as well as household items such as linens. Due to its grand opening, the store is having a large sale on its items.

Neighbors and school community members came together Sunday at New Utrecht High School (1601 80th Street) to celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year.

The school’s auditorium was filled to the max with people of all different age who came to support the performers and celebrate the holiday. The atmosphere was fun and lively, with food available.

Young children shared the stage with active adults, performing a blend of modern dances such as the Gangnam Style Dance and more traditional dances like the Xin Jaing Tambourine Dance.

State Senator Marty Golden hosted the event. Here are some more photos of the festivities:

The Checkmate, Cancer! team.

Karafin at the 2005 PCF Walkathon

Childhood cancer is the number one cause of non-accidental deaths among children, with 12,000 diagnoses each year. Elona Karafin, a 19-year-old Bensonhurst native, has started ”Checkmate, Cancer!”, a team participating in the annual Pediatric Cancer Foundation (PCF) walkathon, in the hopes of ending this deadly disease.

When Karafin was 10 years old, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. For two years, she suffered through chemotherapy and countless surgeries, but she refused to let the disease win. Since then she has been involved with various charities to help the cause.

“As a cancer survivor, I want to dedicate a portion of my life giving back to the people and institutions that save children’s lives every day,” said Karafin.

Karafin has participated on a number of PCF teams over the years, but decided to start her own, “Checkmate, Cancer!”

The team is mostly made up of college students working hard to reach their goal of at least $2,000 to donate to the PCF by late April, as well as raising awareness of the cause. So if people aren’t able to donate money then Karafin urges them to like and share their Fundly.com page on Facebook. It’s a small step that can make a big difference, Karafin said.

The Baruch College student is encouraging people to join her team to walk in the 19th annual Pediatric Center Foundation Walkathon, April 28 in Riverside Park. The event is a fun and healthy way to spend the day, with entertainment, food and lots more. Plus, it’s for a great cause to help sick kids.

The PCF is a non-profit charity with the goal to cure childhood cancer and raise money for research, equipment and patient care.

”The PCF walk made me realize how many people are out there to do good for others, not just by collecting money, but by really creating a comfortable and happy environment for young patients and their families. I may have been young, but I remember like it was yesterday how hard it was to feel comfortable in public being bald and stick thin.” Karafin said.

Karafin is also hosting a fundraising luncheon this April.

To learn more about ”Checkmate, Cancer!” and how to be a part of it click here.

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