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Archive for the tag 'businesses'


A new Russian restaurant, Restaurant Lazzat, is set to open soon at 1969 Bath Avenue. Elle Spektor, our roaming reporter, writes in:

Noticed this on my way home yesterday and thought it was interesting. There’s a new venue, “Restaurant Lazzat” starting construction on Bath Avenue and 20th Avenue. The place was formerly a Middle-Eastern cafe. It’s the first Russian eatery being built in this neighborhood in quite some time – probably the past few years.

The storefront was previously Al-Falah Restaurant and Sweets, serving South Asian and Arabic cuisine.


A new bubble tea vendor is headed to the area, with ViVi Bubble Tea slated to open soon at 6731 Bay Parkway.

Reader Neil A. tipped us off to the opening, sharing the photo above. The site, previously a bodega on the corner of West 9th Street, is still under construction.

ViVi is a small franchise with several other locations in New York City, including one in Brooklyn on Eighth Avenue. This will be its second location in the borough.

Fun fact: despite the sanitized history often given for the name “bubble tea,” the “bubble” is actually anglicized from “boba” – Chinese slang for large breasts. Whoa, knowledge bomb.


Pastosa, located on 75th Street and New Utrecht Avenue, is producing Italian food on a large enough scale to satisfy national demand. Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Sitting on 75th Street and New Utrecht Avenue there is a store, Pastosa, that looks like a relic of the old Bensonhurst, when Italians dominated the neighborhood. But everything about this business bucks assumptions and trends. While the neighborhood’s Italian clientele has been diminished by demographic changes, their operations have expanded to a national level.

“What started as a real local corner store where the local Italians can get a traditional meal has evolved,” one of Pastosa’s owners, Joseph Ajello, said.

Not long ago, businesses like Pastosa, which sells anything and everything Italian from ravioli to mozzarella, catered to local Italians in Bensonhurst. But as the demographics of the neighborhood have changed over the years, Pastosa’s owners have had to find new sources of income as well as appealing to a new wave of diverse Bensonhurst residents. According to data from the American Community Survey from 2012, Asians accounted for 38 percent of the population in Bensonhurst – now the largest ethnic block in the neighborhood, supplanting Italian immigrants.

This flagship store produces all the dough necessary to make the 25 to 30 different ravioli varieties and the 50 different kinds of pasta the company cooks up. Once the dough has been fully mixed, a worker will cut a handful of it and put it into the mouth of Italian-made machines bearing the names Toresani and Italpast. The machine also has another mouth where the cheese filling necessary for ravioli is added. The ricotta cheese filling is one of the few ingredients that aren’t made on site. But it still goes through a rigorous process to meet Pastosa’s requirements.

“It’s made by an expert, old world cheese making company that manufactures this product by our specifications on a daily basis,” Ajello said. He didn’t want to share the name of the cheese manufacturer.

Once the cheese and dough go into two separate mouths, the machine intertwines the two and out comes a tray of ravioli. Once it has been dried enough, workers then put it into boxes.


The Ravioli seen here comes out of an Italian-made machine.
Photo by: Eric Jankiewicz

A box of Ravioli’s final destination is a wild card. It can be kept in the flagship store, shipped off to one of the eight other locations or delivered to an independent buyer like DiCarlo, a food service distributor based in eastern Long Island. There was also a shipment being prepared that day for a restaurant in Hudson, Florida. That’s just one of several states the company regularly ships to.

Pastosa is quietly helping lead a borough trend that sees manufacturing revived, and turns the city’s largest borough into a global supplier of goods.

In a period where the rest of New York City – and much of the nation – has lost many manufacturing jobs, Brooklyn has actually added manufacturing jobs. According to the Center for an Urban Future, a NYC- based think-tank, manufacturing jobs in Brooklyn between 2010-2012 are up 0.2 percent. Which led them to ask, “Is Brooklyn in a new age of entrepreneurial manufacturing?” These numbers are often credited to Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, where entrepreneurs, according to the New York Times, are doing things like making “coffee tables with magnetized cubes, an artist was boxing up woodcuts that, when held to the ear, sounded like a forest.”

But in Southern Brooklyn Ajello is keeping it simple: make delicious food, and building on its artisanal legacy.


Once complete, the Ravioli will either be served in the flagship store or, like seen here, it will be prepared for shipment to somewhere in America.

Ajello’s grandfather first opened Pastosa in 1967 on East 53rd Street and Avenue N. They moved to the 7425 New Utrecht Avenue location soon after, in 1971. Since then, the business has grown to include nine locations and an online shop where businesses across the state can order Pastosa’s products.

From the front of the store, the place looks deceptively small. But Ajello allowed Bensonhurst Bean to take a look in the back, revealing a labyrinth of pasta machines with more than 30 workers producing enough Italian food – mainly pasta – to feed a small Italian army.  The effect is something like an old world version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

“We’ve got a little manufacturing center in the back and then the retail store in the front,” Ajello said.

But while it may now be an industrial hub, it’s also very much still a neighborhood store.

The day’s responsibilities kept Ajello constantly active, running to the back to monitor a shipment preparation and then scurrying back to answer a phone call. But throughout it all he would stop every few minutes to go to the front, where the tempo slows down and customers stroll through the aisles, looking for ingredients. There, Ajello would chat with customers and serve them smoked mozzarella – which is also made on-site – or ask them about their day.

This personal touch is part of the reason Ajello chose to make Pastosa a licensed company and not just a franchise that hands out the name of their company to anyone with enough money.

“This [retail] is where we started so I don’t mind stopping everything to help people in the front,” Ajello said.


It’s several months later than expected, but at least part of the new 7-Eleven coming to Cropsey Avenue and 20th Avenue is now open.

Our Elle Spektor filled us in that the gas station portion of the operation is now open to customers. Work at the site stopped or slowed for several months, but Spektor reports to Bean that workers were inside the store yesterday and construction is moving forward.

We first announced plans to bring the franchise convenience store to the area way back in July 2013, where it replaces a Shell gas station.

In late September, we revisited the site and noted the soon-to-open A-Plus/Sunoco on 19th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue. Those working on construction at the 7-Eleven told us at the time that it would be open within a week.

The future site of 7-Eleven

The 7-Eleven site in September, when workers told the Bean that they would be open in one week.

Source: Mike Licht,

In the face of ongoing complaints about the regulatory burdens placed on New York City’s small businesses, the city government has released a short guide to avoiding the most common violations affecting small business owners.

The two-page guide shows how to comply with rules that account for more than 30 percent of small business violations. It was released in December, but we only caught wind of it in an e-mail newsletter earlier this week, and couldn’t find a link to it on any of the related city websites – so we figured it was worth sharing.

The guide is an initiative of NYC Business, the new online destination that hopes to be a portal for all small business owners. Their site launched in late 2013, with basic information about starting a business and overviews of various regulations. The site is meant to be a hub that brings together the services of various agencies, including Small Business Services the NYC Business Acceleration team.

Plans for the NYC Business portal include expanding the services offered, with a permit, license and inspection status tracker, and increasing the number of  permits and licenses one can apply and pay for online.

The two-page guide lives online at But, in a groan-inducing display of ironic inconvenience, that URL just forwards you to a .pdf of the pamphlet. So to make it easier, we’ve posted it below. Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge


Store manager Tom Valerakis with Assemblyman William Colton.

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman William Colton. We might have done an original article on it, but no one offered us any cake.

On Saturday Februrary 15, Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn, New York) attended the 110th anniversary celebration of Waldbaum’s Supermarket at one of the chain’s local stores, located at 83rd Street and 18th Avenue in Bensonurst.

While the Waldbaum’s company celebrated 110 years of serving quality products at inexpensive prices, the local supermarket on 18th Avenue, which is officially store #296, has been serving the neighborhood for over thirty years.  The store also employs dozens of local residents.

Assemblyman Colton celebrated the anniversary with store manager Tom Valerakis. Colton cut the anniversary cake at the celebration, and the cake was then given out to customers with cups of apple juice.

At the celebration, the Assemblyman stressed, “Neighborhood supermarkets are a vital part of our community in that they employ neighborhood people and provide affordable shopping for neighborhood families, especially seniors. Local supermarkets are at the heart of our communities, providing services and products familes need at prices which are inexpensive. It is important that we recognize our neighborhood businesses and their hardworking employees.”


Gourmet M & U Pizza has opened up at 7502 18th Avenue, replacing a previous pie tosser, Vittorio Pizzeria.

The news comes in via, which writes that the “menu highlights Tin crust Pizza, Hero Sandwiches, Specialties, Salads and Soups such as Cheese Steak, Pepper and Onions Sandwiches, Calzon, Spinach Roll, House Salad, regular Pizza” and more.

Looking at the menu, we also see some of those Italian staples like, uh, “taco pizza.”

Has anyone been there yet? Has there been a change in the food?

Coney Island Brewing Co.'s new taps are modeled after the Parachute Jump.

Coney Island Brewing Co.’s new taps are modeled after the Parachute Jump. (Source: CI Brewing Co.)

My fellow boozies, rejoice! Southern Brooklyn is getting its first full-scale beer brewery in many generations.

Under new ownership, the Coney Island Brewing Company will open a brewery somewhere near the amusement zone, reports Brooklyn Paper, marking the first time since the line’s launch in 2007 that the beer will be made on a large scale within 150 miles of its namesake neighborhood.

A bottle of Mermaid Pilsner donning the old logo next to the Mermaid line's new logo. (Source: CI Brewing Co.)

A bottle of Mermaid Pilsner donning the old logo next to the Mermaid line’s new logo. (Source: CI Brewing Co.)

According to the report:

A source at craft-brewer Alchemy — a subsidiary of Boston Brewery, which produces Sam Adams — said that plans are underway to start mixing the barley malt and hops at an as-yet undecided spot near the world-famous amusement district. The insider said the fermenting facility should be making suds by summer, in time to quench the crowds thronging the beach and the rides.

The news comes on the heels of an August 2013 sale from the line’s original founders, the San Francisco-based Shmaltz Brewing Company, to Alchemy & Science, the craft beer incubator owned by The Boston Beer Company, which also produces Sam Adams. The sale was reported to be worth $2.9 million.

At the time of the deal, Alchemy’s president Alan Newman said one of his first orders of business would be to build a brick and mortar facility with “at least a 10-barrel brewhouse” in the Coney Island area. But before the dust settled, Newman was telling people he might be forced to consider other neighborhoods.

The entire Coney Island craft beer line got an overhaul after the sale, too. Much of the freak show imagery is now gone, instead focusing on the amusement district as a whole.

“The goal is to broaden out the brand so it represents more than just the freak show and isn’t so scary,” Newman said at the time of the sale. “We want to celebrate the amusement park, the beach, the boardwalk, the hot dogs and all of the things that make Coney Island interesting.”


Thew company’s new logo abandons the freakshow theme for something a little more generic. (Source: CI Brewing Co.)

The new look debuted in November, and the launch was covered extensively by Amusing the Zillion. The company also announced the launch of a new beer – Seas the Day Indie Pale Lager – to hit shelves this month.

While the beer has never been brewed on a large scale in Coney Island, it did operate “the world’s smallest brewery” in a storefront attached to the Coney Island Freak Show. The brewery was wiped out during Superstorm Sandy.

Currently, the beer is still being brewed at Shmaltz’s Clifton Park, New York, facility.


A Planet Fitness location will soon come to Bensonhurst in the latest expansion of the New York-based franchise.

The news was first announced by The New York Post, stating that the location will be 2007 86th Street, with 14,000-square-feet on the first floor and a 4,000-square-foot mezzanine.

Planet Fitness signed a 15-year lease. It replaces a Rite Aid at that location.

[via The Real Deal]


A new independently operated real estate firm is now open at 6702 20th Avenue.

The brokerage, JC Real Estate, opened this week, according to owner Jean-Claude “JC” Ho.

The firm will offer both rental properties as well as properties for sale, and they have agents speaking a variety of languages to reach the neighborhood’s different populations.

The location was previously the site of a cash register supplier.

Welcome to the neighborhood, JC Real Estate!

Know of a business that just opened or is set to open soon? Know of one that recently closed? Let your neighbors know by e-mailing nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

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