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Category: Business Review

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 »

Business Review: New practice, same personality for Lyndhurst doctor

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By Anthony Machchinski
Observer Correspondent

In April 2012, The Observer featured an article about Dr. Maria Domingues, a young and energetic optometrist beginning her practice at Lyndhurst, her second office.

Nearly two years later, the ever-jovial and kind-hearted Domingues continues to expand her business while still maintaining her attentiveness towards each individual patient.

“I want to be able to still offer that one-to-one service (to my patients) and have the ability to talk with them on a personal level,” Domingues said.

While Domingues is passionate about her career, her path to optometry was not conventional. Read more »

Have a wedding, lunch or dinner at one of Bergen County’s best, Il Villaggio

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

CARLSTADT – 

For years, it’s been known as one of the finest Italian restaurants in all of Bergen County. But there’s a little-known secret that Il Villaggio has also sported a banquet hall for weddings and special events for the last six years.

And owner Ralph Magliocchetti hopes people realize that whether it’s a fine lunch, dinner or special event — it can all happen at the ristorante he’s owned for the last 35 years.

“We do lunch during the week and dinner every night but Sunday,” he said.

So what sets him apart from other Italian restaurants? It’s the service and his staff he says.

“I have some waiters who have been with me for 25 … 30 years,” he said. “I have bartenders who have been with me 25 to 30 years. So when people come here, they know the people who will serve them. And the service is unmatched anywhere.”

That in and of itself is quite extraordinary, considering how in so many other establishments, there’s immense turnover. But there’s even more, he says.

“We’re most noted for our fish,” he said. “We use only the freshest and top-quality ingredients — and that certainly sets us apart from the rest.”

Beyond lunch, served weekdays from 11:30 a.m., and dinner, served weeknights from 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m., Il Villaggio’s banquet halls, which opened six years ago, offer the perfect spot for a wedding, a prom, corporate events or any other type of large-scale event requiring catering.

There are rooms of varying sizes, including one that can hold more than 200 people. There are special packages for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and sweet 16s. There is a buffet menu — or there is a five- and six-course menu to choose from.

The buffet can include anything from a fruit display to a salad station to a carving station with London broil, Vermont turkey, glazed honey ham, boneless loin of pork to a pasta station with penne ala vodka, prosciutto and fennel, tortellini alla panna, cavatelli with broccoli, garlic and oil or farfalle pasta primavera. And then some.

There are also assorted veal and chicken dishes and an assortment of desserts.

All of these offerings are also available at the restaurant, also.

So if you’re looking for a spot for a wedding, a religious event, a corporate event — or if you’re simply craving a fine Italian meal without having to travel into Manhattan, give Il Villaggio a try — you simply won’t be disappointed.

“We were there just a few weeks and had a spectacular dinner,” said Ceil Cologne, 62, of Belleville, who dined at Il Villaggio with her husband and two dear friends last month. “And we just cannot wait to go back. Everything was tremendous from the start of the meal to the very end. And the atmosphere — oh, the elegance is just wonderful. We just love it there. “

And the best part is it’s all in our backyard — we don’t have to go all the way to the city for a classy dinner.”

Il Villaggio is located at 651 Rt. 17 N., Carlstadt. For additional information, call 201-935-7733 or visit www.ilvillaggio.com where you’ll find more photos and menus and where you’ll also be able to make a reservation.

Breathtaking Manhattan views prevail at Battello Restaurant & Catering

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

JERSEY CITY – 

The views at Battello are stunning. In fact, on three sides of the restaurant, you’ll have a direct look at the New York City skyline, including the soon-to-be-completed 1 World Trade Center (formerly known as the Freedom Tower). You’ll also be surrounded by some of the most beautiful yachts and boats you’ll ever see.

And if you’re looking for a great meal — or a venue for a wedding or corporate event … or even a prom — it’s tough to look at Battello and think of anywhere else, frankly.

It’s been open since April.

And General Manager Fia Berisha says business has taken off beyond what anyone, including owner Cory Checket, could have dreamed.

“It’s been just amazing so far,” Berisha said. “Our owner lives in Jersey City and owns another bar in Hoboken. One day, he saw what was going on here and he wanted to buy it immediately. He fell in love with the space, found investors — and did just that – he bought it. And it’s been wonderful since.”

Indeed it has.

Two weekends ago, Battello hosted its first-ever wedding.

“Imagine having a wedding with a view of the Freedom Tower?” Berisha said. “It just never gets old. We have about eight more weddings booked the rest of the year, and we’re hoping to be able to book even more as we get closer to 2015.”

What separates Battello from other restaurants, Berisha says, is the staff, the menu and the location. Almost everyone on staff is younger than 35, the head chef is a top-25 rated chef in New Jersey and the overall team works brilliantly together.

“We’re open seven days a week, and we’re doing about 300 dinners a night and 200 lunches or brunches a day,” Berisha said. “We spent a lot of time putting the menu and cocktail list together. We actually used a mixologist for the cocktails and the offerings are amazing.”

Since the Newport section of Jersey City continues to grow as a hotspot — especially for young professionals — Berisha says she hopes, one day soon, the area is seen as similar to what’s happening in parts of Brooklyn.

“And we hope to attract tourists,” she said. “With the Westin and Marriot hotels so close, we want them here. We want the Montclair foodies to come here as they would elsewhere. And we’re certain they’ll like what they see.”

The menu at Battello is mostly Italian with a seafood flare. But there are also daily specials that allow the chefs to “think outside the box,” Berisha says.

“It’s another thing that helps us to stand apart from the rest,” she said. “Each day, we give the chefs a chance to come with something new, something different. And they appreciate being able to prepare outside the box. Not every restaurant gives that opportunity to its chefs. We do.”

Aside from an outstanding menu, which you can find at www.battellojc.com, there’s an acoustic happy hour every Thursday from 5 p.m. on. The music is mellow enough that bar-goers enjoy it — as do those who are dining.

And then, Berisha says, every Friday and Saturday, the lounge stays open from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“And we hope more and more people come to eat first, and then make their way to the lounge,” she said. “We’ve got live music — and I hope we’re soon able to bring in more bands for the weekends.

“We really want to have a City Winery feel — and I think we’ve accomplished that on this side of the river. And in the future, we hope to include more dinner and a show events other nights of the week. We’re truly doing our best to show that we are, indeed, the best.”

Battello is located at 502 Washington Boulevard, in the Newport section of Jersey City on the Hudson River waterfront. Visit them online at www.battellojc.com for hours of operation, to make reservations or to see photos of the facilities. Call 201-798-1798.

Brother’s Bakery is on a roll – and it takes the cake!

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

If you’ve ever driven past Brother’s Quality Bakery- Deli late at night, chances are you’ve smelled that incredible scent coming from the ovens. If you pause for a second right now, you can probably recall just how great an aroma it is.

And if you’ve ordered a sandwich of any kind — especially that Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich — you’ve probably had it on a roll made at Brother’s.

And yet, in a real sense, Brother’s Bakery is so much more than just its bread. And it’s been that way for close to 40 years now.

“We offer some of the finest French and Italian breads available,” said Brother’s general manager Jackie Diaz. “We also offer cakes for any occasion, custom-made cakes, 3-D cakes and more — and we always use the freshest ingredients. Never anything frozen.”

Brother’s is also known for distributing its well-loved bread throughout the region.

“We distribute all over,” Diaz said. “We have customers in Scotch Plains, customers in New York City — all over really.”

Brother’s also recently made the decision to reopen its deli.

“We had had a deli before but stopped,” Diaz said. “But our customers told us they wanted the deli back. They always use our breads for their sandwiches, so it made sense that if they came here, they could do it all in one stop. And we love our customers for it.

“Many people come in, start off with a cup of coffee, then get a sandwich — and then finish things off with dessert.”

Diaz says customers can get all kinds of sandwiches made, including paninis and wraps.

Thomas Gencarelli and his family have owned Brother’s since the day its doors opened in 1976. It was Tommy, Nick and Frank Gencarelli who started the business. And now Tommy runs the bakery with Diaz.

Diaz says she and Tommy are grateful for their loyal customers who keep coming back, day in and day out, year in and year out.

“We really do appreciate our customers’ support,” she said. “We always try our best to provide the best quality products — and it’s our hope we continue to do so for many years to come.”

Considering how many people across the country ask on Facebook about having bread delivered to them — including many in Florida — it makes sense Brother’s will continue to be one of Kearny’s greatest and longest- standing businesses for a long time to come.

Said one Facebook fan: “Good morning Brother’s Bakery. I would like to recommend that you ship your hard rolls out of state to Florida by prepaid special request.”

Brother’s Bakery is located at 365 Kearny Ave., at Liberty St., Kearny. For information, call 201-991-4364 or find them on Facebook at www.facebook. com/BrothersQuality- BakeryNJ. Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday; and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Frank’s GMC: 84 years selling vehicles

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 

Frank Pezzolla Sr. probably never thought that when he opened his business around 1930 with just a handful of employees, that decades later, what was once a mechanic’s garage would turn into one of the most successful GMC dealerships in America with in excess of 100 employees.

But that’s precisely what has happened — and now, some 84 years later — the Lyndhurst-based business continues to thrive, and people from all over the area have chosen Frank’s GMC as their dealership of choice when the time comes for a new vehicle.

For the first seven years of operation, Frank’s was just a garage. But everything changed when in 1937, Pezzolla was granted a GMC franchise. As the business grew, so did the need for space — and in 1978, the Pezzolla family moved the dealership from its original Ridge Road location to where it’s been ever since — on Orient Way.

But what separates Frank’s from many other GMC dealers is that Frank’s has a strong focus on trucks. You’ll notice that the moment you arrive at the showroom.

And while much has changed over the years, there are a few constants that very few businesses can claim: It’s still owned by the Pezzolla family and their commitment to customers is unparalleled.

General Manager Frank “Frankie” Pezzolla has been part of the family business for more than four decades. He started working there while he was in high school, sweeping floors and stocking parts. And now, as the general manager, he oversees a business that has thrived despite GM’s tough economic times that hit several years ago when the entire auto industry nearly collapsed.

“I’ve been in sales, at least part-time, since 1978,” Pezzolla said. “Back then I went to my uncle (current Observer General Manager) Bobby (Pezzolla) and told him I wanted to sell. And over that time, I’d like to think we’ve done it right. While much of the rest of the industry suffered, we were still doing well.”

Indeed they were. And still are.

But how did they do it? 

It’s pretty simple, Pezzolla said.

“We treat everyone like family,” he said. “When you do that, you succeed. I’ve got a lot of employees who have been here with me for 40 years or more, including one of my sales managers, Chris (Koumoulis). I couldn’t do this without him or the rest of my family.”

There are quite a few other Pezzollas still working at Frank’s, including Frankie’s dad Frank Pezzolla Jr., the company’s president; and Frankie’s brothers Michael, who is in charge of the parts department, and Joseph, the service manager.

“And my dad is still involved almost every day,” Pezzolla said. “He’s comes in almost every day and still has a very active role in what we do here.”

More than what you see 

If you’ve ever driven along Orient Way, and have seen Frank’s, chances are you’ve noticed the inventory of personal trucks and vehicles sitting out front or inside the newly remodeled showroom. But what you don’t readily see are the commercial trucks Frank’s also sells that are out back and away from the public eye.

“So in essence, we have two businesses — the vehicles people see, and a commercial side,” Pezzolla said. “People don’t see all the big trucks, like the ones you see going in and out of New York City. But we absolutely have a freight line. We sell Hinos and Isuzu trucks — and that’s known as Frank’s Truck Center.”

Pezzolla says the commercial end of the business played a huge role in the company staying afloat during the economic downturn.

“It kept us going,” he said. “They were really our bread and butter. And what is great is that often, the people who come in to buy our commercial trucks often buy from us for their personal vehicle needs. Everyone needs a personal vehicle, right? Sometimes, we see five GMCs sitting in their driveways — and we love that.”

Pezzolla credits his father, his brothers and his uncle Bobby for really giving him the impetus for success at Frank’s. And he hopes it continues for many years down the line.

“Bobby was probably the best salesman I’ve ever seen, and he taught me so much,” Pezzolla said. “And dad taught me so much too. We’ve been very fortunate. And I know I am grateful.”

Frank’s GMC and Frank’s Truck Center is located at 325 Orient Way, Lyndhurst. For additional information, call 201- 806-1466 for sales, 201-806-1464 for service or visit them online at www.FranksGMC.net.

Showroom hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays. Frank’s is closed on Sundays. Service hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays. Parts are open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays.

For more information about Frank’s Truck Center, call 877-469-6304.

 

East Side Fitness will bring ‘hometown’ feel to workout

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent

For years, it was a video store — and then it sat idly, without a tenant, for many more years. It was certainly what most would consider an eyesore. But now, finally, the property at 495 Kearny Ave. has gotten a much-needed makeover, and East Side Fitness is ready to make the location a go-to spot.

Brandon Zaleski, one of four co-owners of the new gym (there’s another in Maplewood) says he and his partners selected Kearny for the new workout locale because there really weren’t any alternatives in the town.

“My family is originally from Harrison,” Zaleski said. “And I knew that for local residents, there wasn’t much of a choice for a gym in the immediate area. So we found the property, hired a contractor to renovate the place and bring it back to life. And now, we’re really excited about bringing East Side Fitness to Kearny.”

Because of its size — about 6,000 square feet — Zaleski says gym-goers can expect an intimate atmosphere where everyone from the most inexperienced to hardcore athletes will all feel at home. Read more »

At Bellavia, it’s all about the customer

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent 

Bellavia Chevrolet Buick has finished construction of its all-new facility, now open at 199 Rt. 17 South in East Rutherford — and customers should really like what they see.

Kevin Holdorf, the general manager of Bellavia Chevrolet Buick, says that with the completion of the new facility, the dealership believes it has raised an already-famous customer service to new heights.

Holdorf says from the dealership’s inception in 1972, the Bellavia family made customer service more than a priority — they made it a way of life. The family’s philosophy: “Treat people the way you want to be treated, and do it on a daily basis.”

Bellavia's new, state-of-the-art showroom.

Bellavia’s new, state-of-the-art showroom.

This approach to customer service at Bellavia Chevrolet Buick means, among other things, that the dealership’s sales and service personnel are empowered to deal with customer issues right away, before they become serious problems.

As a result of this environment, a bond of loyalty exists between the store, its customers and its employees, many of whom have been with the dealership for 20 years or more, Holdorf says. Read more »

For nearly 95 years, Bogle Agency Insurance has been there for the community

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent

 LYNDHURST —

These days, when a new business opens up — it really doesn’t matter what kind of business it is — the chances of seeing it still open a year later are slim. And yet there’s one local business that has bucked that trend for almost a century — and for nearly 95 years, it has served Lyndhurst and surrounding towns in ways few others have been able to.

Bogle Agency Insurance first opened its doors in 1919, under the direction of Horace R. Bogle. And now, four generations later. it continues to offer top-notch insurance services — but in ways modern insurance companies simply can’t.

Erica Patrk, the office manager of Bogle’s Lyndhurst office, says it’s the human contact — and one-on-one service — that sets Bogle apart from the others. Read more »