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Category: Business Review

Firepit Quality Meats offers take-home BBQ & lots more

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

NORTH ARLINGTON – 

John Patoilo, owner of Firepit Barbecue, says over the years, his customers have asked him how they can get their hands on the meats and oils and sauces he uses at his restaurants. And because of that, he’s wanted, for the longest time, to open a butcher shop of his own.

Over that time, he tried and tried and tried to convince his friend, and now partner, Jose Almeida, owner of Simoes and Almeida in Kearny, to join him in opening up a modern meat store.

Finally, after years of discussions and coaxing, Almeida agreed — and now, Firepit Quality Meats has finally opened at 617 Ridge Road, North Arlington. And all those great tastes customers are accustomed to at the barbecue can now be taken home for dinner, parties and then some.

“I’d been chasing Ze (Jose) for two years,” Patoilo said. “I would tell him that I’d love to be his partner. Eventually, he asked me what my vision was and when I explained it to him, it clicked. And at that point, he said, ‘sign me up.’ That was around June — and now, just a few weeks ago, we had our grand opening and we’re up, running and enjoying every second of it.”

So just what could one expect to find at Firepit Quality Meats? Well, for starters, clearly, meats.

“There are all sorts of meats available — and not just what you’d find at the barbecue,” Patoilo said. “For starters, we have Boar’s Head cold cuts. You’ll also find smoked sausages, pork loins, other kinds of pork, chicken, angus supreme beef, steaks, short ribs, fresh turkey and American veal.”

But there’s much more than the great meats.

“We also have Portuguese olive oils, cheeses from Portugal, Norwegian cod and breads from Teixeira’s Bakery delivered each day,” Patoilo said.

So in addition to the store being a great stop for meats, you can also pop in for a sandwich. In essence, Firepit Quality Meats is a butcher shop and a deli all in one.

And it’s not just Portuguese food available for sale.

“You’ll also find your milk and dairy products, eggs, and things of that nature as well,” Patoilo said. “We have pastas, canned fish, tuna, sardines, incredible jumbo shrimp, tilapia. The fish is high quality, so we hope people will come in to see the incredible variety we have to offer.”

Some of Almeida’s noted products are available, too, including an array of marinated meats.

But the bottom line, Patoilo says, is that if you want to take the taste of Firepit Barbecue home with you, you’ll have plenty of choices.

“Sometimes, people prefer to entertain at home instead of going out,” he said. “So if you’re having 40 people over at the house for a party, you can have that great-tasting food at home for your big crowd. We love this approach and think it will be very successful.”

Firepit Quality Meats is located at 617 Ridge Road, North Arlington. Reach them by phone at 201-991- 6379. Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ease your pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture in Harrison

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON – 

There’s an epidemic in this country — and sadly, it involves millions of people who suffer from chronic pain. To treat the unbearable pain — caused by a myriad of complications from Sciatica to simple work-place accidents — many people have no other choice but to use very strong pain medication.

And often enough, that use of pain pills leads to outright addiction.

But there are alternatives to using pain meds — and one of those alternatives is right in your backyard in Harrison.

Dr. Weiping Li runs the Lee Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Center in town — and she’s got another office on Grove Street in Downtown Jersey City. Li is a licensed acupuncturist in New Jersey and New York and also earned a diploma in acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine more than 20 years ago. She’s specially trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and western medicine.

Li recently sat down with The Observer to discuss the beneficial uses of acupuncture — and some of those uses might be surprising.

“We specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, but have many other ways we serve patients,” Li said. “From Chinese herbs, to teas to massage to foot reflexology, we use all different kinds of methods to alleviate all kinds of pain.”

Li says most of her patients come to her complaining of chronic back pain, muscle pain, knee and elbow issues, Carpal Tunnel syndrome, Sciatica and muscle spasms.

Her methods also help people with allergies, asthma, stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

But it’s women with fertility issues who she says benefit greatly from her work.

“Most people don’t know that infertile women can be helped by acupuncture,” Li said. “Of late, gynecologists recommend acupuncture to women who have trouble getting pregnant. The treatments can balance hormone levels, give women more confidence and make irregular periods more regular.”

The treatments for women with fertility issues, she says, help to relieve poor circulation of blood in the pelvic area, a common cause of infertility, and can boost the percentage of women who have had trouble getting pregnant.

“Not so long ago, a patient of mine, who was an oncologist, came to us after trying 10 times to get pregnant with in-vetro fertilization,” she said. “She was frustrated and ready to give up, but then her gynecologist suggested she try acupuncture. So that is what she did — she came to us for a few months of treatment.

“The 11th time she tried in-vetro fertilization, she got pregnant. It was a great story. And it can happen to others in a similar situation.”

Li also says acupuncture and TCM can also help people who are overweight and who want to stop smoking.

“In Chinese medicine, we say the body doesn’t get enough balance when people are overweight,” Li said. “Sometimes, people are overweight and they don’t even eat a lot of bad food. It’s a slow process — many months maybe — but after and during acupuncture treatment, there’s more of a balance. The fat doesn’t stay just around the belly. It balances better to all parts of the body and slowly, people see the weight go down.

“It really helps the digestive function.”

Of course, patients also have to commit to a more healthy diet, regardless of how they’ve eaten in the past.

“No sweets!” she said, laughing. As for smoking, Li says there are special points in the human body that control addiction. With acupuncture treatment, cravings for nicotine and other drugs can subside.

“It has helped people quit smoking and other drugs,” she said. “And for others, it’s controlled the desire for the drugs.”

To experience what Li has to offer, you don’t need insurance, and treatments are reasonably priced. She says most insurance plans don’t cover acupuncture, but if yours does, it’s accepted. T

he Harrison Lee TCM Health Center is located at 215 N. Second St., and the Jersey City center is at 293 Grove St. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and weekends, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For additional information, to see a menu of services and costs, or to make an appointment, call the center in Harrison at 973-482-1530, or the center in Jersey City at 201- 915-0710 or visit www.leetcmhealthcenter.com.

You won’t go away hungry at Mama Angelo’s

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 

NORTH ARLINGTON – 

Some restaurants claim everything they make is from scratch. Eventually, you learn it’s not all really homemade. But the truth is, at Mama Angelo’s, everything served really is made from scratch — even the pasta — says owner Larry Angelo, a lifelong Kearny resident.

“Everything is fresh. Everything is made from scratch each day,” Angelo said. “I have a pasta maker, also, and we make sure the pasta is fresh each day too. Nothing frozen. Nothing processed. Nothing pre-cooked. Only the best ingredients.”

Angelo and hs family opened up the Italian-American restaurant in 2010. And ever since, he says he’s been thrilled to share his family’s love for cooking and food with the public.

“Every single recipe we have is a family recipe,” Angelo said. “They’re all from my mom, my dad and others in the family.”

At Mama Angelo’s, Larry says customers should expect big portions at moderate prices. And, he says they should expect to be treated as if they were guests at his family’s home.

“If you’re looking for a quick five-minute experience, like to grab a sandwich and run, you won’t get that here,” he said. “We want everyone to feel like they’re a guest at our home. It’s all about the family atmosphere here.”

Angelo and his family take the commitment to providing a family atmosphere so seriously that every single dish served must first pass a quality check by him or a member of the Angelo clan.

“It’s not leaving the kitchen unless I check it first or my mom, or dad — someone in the family,” he said. “We want to be certain everything we serve is as it should be. This sets us apart from many other places. We’re always here to ensure our customers get the very best. Most other places, the owners don’t even show up.”

Among the many dishes available at Mama Angelo’s that Larry says they’re most noted for are all their pastas, fresh meatballs and Giambotta pork chops.

In fact, if you go to Mama Angelo’s, there’s a contest for anyone to try.

Eat two of the huge Giambotta pork chops in 18 minutes, and you’ll get $18 plus a gift card from the restaurant. They’re that big — and that good — he says.

“No one has completed the task yet,” he said. “Not even close. Some have tried, but it really is a challenge.”

Mama Angelo’s is also noted for its thin-crust, brick-oven pizza. “If you really want Italianstyle pizza, this is it,” he said. Mama Angelo’s is a BOYB establishment. But that hardly matters, given the kind of experience you’ll go through at the place if you give it a try. There’s seating for 65 inside the restaurant, but if you prefer to dine alfresco, there’s also 20 seats outside on the patio.

“People come hungry and always leave satisfied,” he said. “What you get here is true old-world dining — and if people haven’t given us a try yet, we think they’ll enjoy what they see.”

Mama Angelo’s, at 440 Ridge Road, North Arlington, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. They’re closed Mondays. For additional information, menus and testimonials, visit www.theoriginalmamaangelos.com or call 201-997-0577. Takeout and delivery from Harrison north to Wood-Ridge is available for free.

Sushi Samba is worth the trip to the West Village

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 

NEW YORK CITY – 

If you’re a fan of sushi — but don’t like being limited to just sushi when you go out to eat — Sushi Samba in New York City’s West Village is the place to go. Better yet, if you like a mix of Brazilian and Peruvian food, you’re going to fall in love with Sushi Samba quicker than you could imagine.

The first Sushi Samba opened in New York City in 2000, when one of the owners, a frequent visitor to Sao Paolo, Brazil learned that Sao Paolo had the largest concentration of Japanese people outside Japan, according to the restaurant’s general manager Joe Ofmani. Back then, the owner decided he wanted to fuse a love for sushi with the incredible cuisines of Brazil and Peru.

And from there, things took off.

There are now other locations in London, Las Vegas, South Beach Miami and Coral Gables, Fla. (home to the University of Miami).

Dining at any of the locations, but most notably in New York, is like nothing you’ll experience elsewhere, Ofmani says.

 

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“And that’s because we like people to really enjoy the whole experience at Sushi Samba,” Ofmani said. “We want our guests to experience the menu and the atmosphere. We ask our guests what they like and don’t like. So what ultimately happens is our diners will enjoy sushi and hot food together.”

Ofmani says the concept at Sushi Samba is to “share a little of a lot of food.”

“It’s family style,” he said. “And our patrons really enjoy it that way.”

But it’s hardly just the food that contributes to the whole experience at Sushi Samba. Every Friday and Saturday night, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., there’s a DJ on hand to play what Ofmani calls “Samba House” music.

“There’s a lot of drum and bass sounds,” Ofmani said. “It really contributes to a great atmosphere.”

That atmosphere is spread over two entire floors, as well.

There’s a huge dining area that includes an incredibly big bar (see above photos). And, the second floor includes a completely outdoor dining experience with New York City views.

“If the weather is good, it’s a great way to experience Sushi Samba,” Ofmani said.

Ofmani says there are two happy hours at Sushi Samba every day of the week except Saturdays. The first is from 4 to 7 p.m., and the second is from 11 p.m. until closing. There are a lot of drink specials — and that includes the city’s largest selection of the Japanese drink sake.

Sake is made from fermented rice, Ofmani says, and its creation process is similar to the preparation of beer.

“We pair it with the types of food people decide to order,” Ofmani said. “It’s a lot like how wine is paired with different foods. There are many kinds to choose from.”

So just how good is Sushi Samba?

Lots of celebrities have dined there over the years.

You never know if you’ll bump into former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, or Jamie Foxx, Alyssa Milano, Willow Smith, Lindsay Lohan — or a host of others who have repeatedly returned to the restaurant.

And, not too long ago, chefs from the restaurant appeared on “Good Day New York” with Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto.

So if you’re looking for a great meal and want the entire New York City experience, give Sushi Samba a try. Chances are by the time you get home, you’ll be stuffed and planning another visit to the place in the not-too-distant future.

In this economy, local businesses need advertising to survive

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By Ryan Sloan 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

Some economic experts say we’re well on the road to recovering from the Great Recession of a few years ago. Others say we’re nowhere near recovered.

Regardless, one thing has stood the test of time for more than 125 years — through the Great Depression, numerous recessions and all sorts of other economic issues — and that is The Observer newspaper as a place where local business owners can showcase themselves to attract maximum exposure and the clientele needed for survival.

The Observer newspaper boasts a robust print circulation of more than 30,000 newspapers a week with around 100,000 estimated readers in West Hudson, South Bergen and part of Essex County.

But the newspaper’s reach goes well beyond the tri-county area with our e-Edition, which is an exact replica of the print edition — and with www.TheObserver.com.

The website is read, each week, on average, by some 30,000 people not just locally, but in Jersey City, Newark, New York City, many cities in Florida (where locals have gone to retire) other places in North America — and across the globe, with heavy readership in England, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, Brazil and other countries in Europe and South America.

And for our advertisers, the e-Edition is an added bonus. Each week, an estimated 12,000 people across the country and globe read the e-Edition. And what’s more, there is no additional charge for ads bring run in the e-Edition.

Businesses that advertise with The Observer — especially new businesses — are more likely to succeed in the long run, according to Bob Pezzolla, who has been The Observer’s general manager since 2002. In his experience, he says ones that commit succeed — and ones that don’t are much less likely to succeed.

To achieve that success, Pezzolla estimates that new business must budget at least 10% of start-up capital for advertising.

“Too many times over the years, I’ve seen so many great people start a business that folds after six months,” Pezzolla said. “What happens is they have great intentions, have a few customers, but don’t understand that, without getting the word out that they’re there, they’re likely not going to succeed. So I’d definitely say 10% of the kick-off capital has to be for advertising.”

Meanwhile, business can opt to advertise on www.TheObserver. com alone. Presently, attorney Anthony Riposta, Better Homes and Gardens | Coccia Realty, Mid-Realty, Brady, Brady & Reilly and the Kearny Family Health Center all have prominent ads on The Observer’s website.

Each ad includes a direct link to each business’ website.

“While many other publications have refused to embrace the online versions of newspapers, we’ve embraced it,” Pezzolla said. “And considering how many people visit our site each week, our advertisers are able to showcase their businesses not just locally, but across the country and the globe. There aren’t many weekly newspapers that can boast that as we can.”

Lastly, businesses that have remained with The Observer for a long period of time are featured in this space regularly — The Business Review section. It’s here that a member of the newspaper’s staff writes a complete, one-page review on the advertisers. Additionally, a banner ad is placed along with the editorial. It’s one of many ways The Observer gives back to those who have been loyal.

And of course, if you’re a new business owner — or have never advertised before — The Observer’s professional art staff will create and design an ad for you, completely as you want it to appear.

So what are you waiting for? Contact a member of the sales staff today by calling 201-991-1600, by sending an email to advertising@theobserver. com or by stopping by our office at 39 Seeley Ave., Kearny, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. As The Observer continues to grow, let us help your business grow with us.

Make the call today!

Keypoint Mortgage eases process of getting a mortgage, refinancing

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By Ryan Sloan

Observer Correspondent 

NORTH ARLINGTON — 

Though the rules have significantly changed since the sub-prime loan crisis of 2009, one thing has remained consistent: Keypoint Mortgage is still there for mortgage-seekers, or for those seeking to refinance, without the hassle of having to deal with largescale banks.

And perhaps best of all, Keypoint deals with more than 20 different lenders throughout the country, so the chances of successfully securing a loan are much greater with Keypoint than they are with a single bank, thanks to the variety of choices out there.

Mortgage broker Rob Pezzolla has owned and operated Keypoint Mortgage since 2003. When he first opened the business in North Arlington — there’s now also a branch office in Summit — he did so to make the home-loan process easier for clients.

“When you deal with a bank, you’re dealt with what they have to offer,” Pezzolla said. “When you’re with us, we make the process painless and have considerably more options when it comes to potential lenders.”

Indeed, Keypoint does.

But because of the changes to borrowing guidelines that were instituted after the subprime crisis five years ago, while it’s still easier and more convenient to get a mortgage through his Mortgage Broker, it might not be as easy as it was before the crisis hit.

“That’s because there was a time where people were getting mortgages without any documentation,” Pezzolla said. “Places were approving mortgages without a paystub, or without any paperwork, from borrowers. It doesn’t work that way anymore, but as a broker, we offer the flexibility that a large bank can’t offer.

“We deal with 20 or so banks, they underwrite the file and we present the best deal offered.”

Perhaps the best part of dealing with a broker like Pezzolla — there’s no upfront cost to the consumer. Now, just because the rules have changed, that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting decent mortgages anymore. That’s where Keypoint comes in.

Before contacting any lenders, Pezzolla and Keypoint work with individual clients to set reasonable expectations. He’ll conduct what’s called pre-purchase counseling with anyone seeking a mortgage — where he offers sound advice based on the consumer’s income, assets and equity.

If a customer has no shot at a mortgage, he’ll let the person know.

If he can pull off a spectacularly low interest rate, he’ll let the customer know.

You still may be able to refinance a high rate mortgage.

Saving a bad mortgage

One of the most critical things Pezzolla wants people to know about what he does as a broker actually concerns the refinancing of what might be considered predatory loans.

He says to this very day — and this could very well include you — there are 800,000 Americans who have loans with interest rates at 6% or more that can still be refinanced based on the 2009 market meltdown.

There are two main requirements: The loan had to be issued on or before May 31, 2009 — and the loan has to have come from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

“Not only can mortgage holders refinance under those circumstances, we can often get them from interest rates at 6% or more down to as low as 4.25%,” Pezzolla said. “There’s a myth out there that if you’ve got one of these loans, you’re stuck with it and can’t refinance. That’s not the case at all, and I hope people do realize if they’re in this category, not only can we help, we can make it happen.

“And it doesn’t matter if the consumer is under water. It doesn’t matter if the home’s value has dropped. Regardless of equity, the opportunity is there — and we hope more people will take advantage of the opportunities we can offer them.”

The bottom line, however, in dealing with Keypoint is simple. If you want a mortgage or to refinance — and you qualify — the convenience of Keypoint will truly make what could otherwise be an awful process a much easier and comfortable one.

“We’re the neighborhood guys,” Pezzolla said. “We’re not the ‘no-face banks’ people often deal with. We’re not the correspondent lender in Illinois where you’ll never meet the people in person you’re dealing with. We’re local, we give our clients the time and attention they deserve. And we’ll always be honest and up-front right from the beginning.

“You just don’t get that with large-scale banks, and never will.”

Think you might want to refinance a higher rate mortgage? Looking for a new mortgage? Contact Pezzolla by calling him on his mobile phone at 201-805-4999, by sending him an email to rob@keypointmortgage.com or by visiting www.keypointmortgage.com online.

Schuyler Savings Bank: big-time banking in an intimate setting

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By Ryan Sloan

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

If you’re looking for big time banking, but in a smaller setting — where everyone gets to know your name and your needs (go ahead, break into song with the theme to “Cheers”) — you needn’t look further than right here in West Hudson at Schuyler Savings Bank.

That’s because for decades, they’ve been offering customers all the amenities large-scale banks offer and then some without the hassle of having to deal with a huge corporation and the red tape that often comes with it.

The main Kearny office at 24 Davis Ave. first opened in 1924 — and just a few years ago, Schuyler Savings opened a branch office at 203-205 Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard in Harrison. In all those years, the bank’s President and CEO George Halski says one thing has never changed: a commitment to offering personal service to every single customer.

“What sets us apart, as well, is that we have had generations of customers,” Halski said. “We have customers whose grandparent and parents were also customers — and now their own children are our customers. We’re able to bring that personal touch and service in ways bigger banks just cannot.”

So how does Schuyler Savings achieve that?

It’s pretty simple, Halski says.

“What you’ll find here, year after year, is that it’s the same people behind the window or at the counter who offer that personal touch,” Halski said. “We rarely have turnover here. So our customers take pride in coming in and seeing the same people week after week after week.

“Our employees take pride in developing relationships with the customers, and we know the customers appreciate that as well.”

Halski says it’s never more evident than when customers pop into the bank having no business to conduct.

“Occasionally, people will come in to share stories … how their vacation was … or they’ll want to know how one of our vacations went,” he said. “That rarely happens in larger-scale facilities.”

Halski also says referral business has kept Schuyler Savings competitive in a fierce banking market.

“We pride ourselves on that. Our customers love to refer new business to us,” Halski said. “There have been so many instances where our customers have told family friends to go see so and so — he’ll take good care of you. That’s unbeatable.”

Indeed it is.

And remember, just because Schuyler Savings is smaller in size, it doesn’t mean the perks of big-time banking aren’t there, either.

The bank offers all of the usual banking services — from mortgages, to auto loans, to checking and savings accounts with debit cards and more. And they do so with a modern flare. Electronic banking is available, as is phone banking. So if it’s 2 a.m. and you need to check your account balance, you can do so with ease with the company’s modern platforms.

“The younger people often prefer to do their banking at 11 p.m. in their pajamas in front of the computer screen,” Halski said. “And that’s just fine — we offer all the tools to do just that.”

Lastly, Halski says he takes pride that Schuyler Savings is consistently rated a five-star bank by Bauer Financial, a financial-services industryrating organization.

“Their rating lets our customers know we’re one of the strongest banks in the country,” Halski said. “We’ve been able to, over the years, keep that rating because we treat the money we have with respect. I personally would never do anything with anyone else’s money that I wouldn’t do with my own.

“That philosophy, along with our strong board of directors, has kept us successful, even in the years when the economy wasn’t strong.”

To contact Schuyler Savings Bank, call 201-991-0001 or visit www.schuylersavings.com to find out all of the services the bank offers beyond what’s already been mentioned.

The Harrison branch can be reached at 973-412-1266.

Hours of operation at both offices are:

Banking: Monday to Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Loan-Department: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those who need the loan department after 6 p.m. may call 201-991-6078 to schedule an after-hours appointment.

Walk-up window: Monday to Saturday, 8 to 9 a.m.; and Monday to Wednesday, 3 to 6 p.m.

Drive-through: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

EcuAmerica Car Service will get you where you need to go

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

NEWARK – At one point or another in your life, you’ve probably needed to hire a car service, whether it’s to get you to an important meeting, or to Newark Liberty International Airport — or various other locations.

But it’s never an easy process deciding which service to use.

You want the best price and the best service, but with so many choices out there, it’s almost impossible to make the final decision on which company to use. But that decision shouldn’t be so hard anymore, because EcuAmerica Car Service, located in the Ironbound section of Newark, is ready to take you wherever you’ve got to go at the most reasonable prices in the area.

The company has been in its current setup since 2011, but has served the area much longer than that under different management and ownership. Now, they have a fleet of 70 cars, ranging from Lincoln Town Cars to Crown Victorias to minivans to Toyotas that will take you anywhere in the country.

They’ll pick you up at home and take you to any airport — including Newark- Liberty, LaGuardia and JFK. They’ll take you anywhere you might need to go in the tri-state area. And they’ll go well beyond that, according to EcuAmerica’s Business Manager Jajaira Colon.

“We do service the entire tri-state area, but that’s not all,” Colon said. “We’ve taken people to many different places — and had a trip recently to Massachusetts. So if you need to get somewhere, we’ll get you there.”

And while there are, indeed, many choices locally for car service, Colon says there are a few reasons why EcuAmerica stands out above the competition. First, she says, are EcuAmerica’s rates.

“You will find that our rates are the best out there,” Colon said. “Few, if any, can top what we offer price-wise.”

If you book with EcuAmerica, you won’t need cash, necessarily, either. The company accepts all major credit cards for payment before making a trip. They also offer corporate monthly accounts for customers who rely on car service for more than just a trip or two.

“We have numerous accounts for customers or corporations that use us on a regular basis,” Colon said. “And the best part is we’ll work with everyone on the rates and payment arrangements. We want the overall experience to be a positive one.”

To ensure that positive experience, Colon says customers will find the entire process for hiring a car a pleasant one, from the initial reservation phone call to the actual journey itself.

“We pride ourselves on making the entire experience a good one,” Colon said. “Whether it’s when one of the ladies who answer the phones to take the initial reservation — or with the driver — it’s always enjoyable. We ensure everyone pays close attention to the needs of the customers, whether it’s taking baggage and putting it into the car for them, or anything else. Our goal is to help the customers because we want them to come back.”

And it appears they do come back.

Many of the customers serviced by EcuAmerica are repeats, so their customer service model appears to be paying off.

“That’s why we’re here,” Colon said. “We know we have to do what’s best for the customers. We’re here to serve them — and that’s just one of the reasons why we are as successful as we are.”

To make a reservation, or for a price quote, call EcuAmerica at 973-344-0555 or visit www.ecuamericataxinj.com. Reservations and car services are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, including all major holidays. Most office workers and most drivers speak or understand Portuguese as well as English.

High-quality, bilingual talent at Coccia

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

If you’ve driven along Kearny Ave., you’ve no doubt seen the Coccia Realty office. And no matter where you go in town, you’ve seen its neat-looking signs on lawns of homes for sale.

And it’s not just in Kearny. There’s a big reason why Coccia signs are seen so often — it’s because for more than 50 years, since 1961, when Joseph Coccia Jr. first opened the agency to this day under the ownership and leadership of John “Jan” Kwapniewski — Coccia has always represented the very best there is in real estate.

Kwapniewski first got his real-estate license in 1985 — and then, just four short years later, he bought Coccia Realty and became its president.

Since that time, he’s opened four more offices — in Lyndhurst, Rutherford, Madison and Montville — and has expanded what was once a single-office entity into a real-estate powerhouse that employs more than 100 agents. And, by April 2015, there will be two more offices: one in Secaucus and another in Clifton.

Many of the agents speak more than one language, too, and that’s critical in today’s world. Speakers of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Polish will find an agent who can speak in their native tongue to make the home buying or selling process that much easier.

So just what is it that makes Coccia stand out from the rest? Well, for starters, Kwapniewski has never forgotten what it’s like to be new to the business, and as such, he imparts his experience and knowledge to his team as a mentor and coach. He does everything in his power to ensure all of his employees are the best-trained and most knowledgeable in the industry.

And because of Coccia’s connection to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, that training is the best in the business, he says.

“The training Better Homes and Gardens offers is outstanding,” Kwapniewski said. “And it’s constant. They offer our agents live training, live webinars, pre-recorded seminars and weekly training on issues in the industry that are that are critical.”

Because of his style of leadership, and because of the topnotch training available to his agents, Kwapniewski says he’s always been able to attract the highest-quality talent to come to work for him.

“My goal always has been and always will be not to have the largest quantity of agents, but the strongest quality,” he said. “I don’t just hire anyone — and I am not afraid to let someone go if they’re not willing to work with our standards. But when there are people who can focus on our mission — people who are committed to learning, those are the people I want working with us.”

Kwapniewski says it’s also important to note that some of the best agents are those who have been well mentored. He says each new agent is managed and mentored by a superior.

“To be really good agent, you’ve got to mentored and nurtured,” he said. “And it takes about two years, in reality, for that mentorship to develop into something special.”

Why hook up with Better Homes?

While Kwapniewski has the statistics to prove he’s got the most sales and volume in our readership area, he says he wanted something more for the business. He really didn’t need to rebrand Coccia as most already know the Coccia brand and name. But he opted to rebrand to reinvent what he’s already succeeded at.

“They were after me for at least three years,” Kwapniewski said of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “Their business model was fresh and put together by some of the brightest minds in the industry. And with the power and support of their branding, overall, it’s better for the consumer — and a win-win for the agents because of the aforementioned training.”

In-house marketing and advertising

One of the other major areas where Kwapniewski says Coccia is different from the rest is that agents are not asked to perform social media or advertising on their own. He’s got a full-time social media expert on staff who does all the Tweeting and Facebook work. And, the company pays for all advertising.

Many other agencies demand agents pay for their own advertising and require them to do their own social media branding.

“Not with us,” Kwapniewski said. “Our agents’ job is customer service and to negotiate deals. We’ve got our own back office that does the brokerage, marketing, advertising and promotion. We don’t ask our agents to spend their own money. Others do, and in many cases, the agents don’t have the money to be spending. If it’s between putting food on the table or marketing your house, you know the choices they have to make.

“That is never the case with us. We do it all for them. And it benefits our people and our consumers.”

To get in touch with Kwapniewski, call him at Coccia’s Kearny office at 201-997-7000 or stop in at 636 Kearny Ave., or visit www.cocciarealty.com.

Have a workers’ comp case? John Pinho’s the man you want representing you

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON – 

If there’s one thing that makes our area special, it’s that there are numerous attorneys you can turn to for whatever the reason. And when it comes to workers’ compensation cases, right in our backyards is one of the state’s most noted workers comp attorneys.

John Pinho has had a presence in West Hudson for 17 years. During that time, he specialized in many different kinds of cases, including municipal court matters and much more.

But now, after operating a private practice in Harrison, Pinho has moved on to where it all began for him before he opened his practice — at the law firm of Javerbaum, Wurgaft, Hicks, Kahn, Wikstrom & Sinins, which has five offices in New Jersey — in Springfield, Newark, Freehold, Jersey City and Elizabeth — and one in New York City.

So why did Pinho opt to return to the first firm he’d ever worked for after 17 highly successful years in private practice, where he was his own boss?

It was an easy choice, he says. Read more »