Interthread Embroidery Makes Pieces Pop

Terri Ehrman places a piece of fabric in the hoop of the embroidery machine at her business, Interthread Embroidery.

Terri Ehrman places a piece of fabric in the hoop of the embroidery machine at her business, Interthread Embroidery.

By Sophia Ricco

Experts in the art of embroidery, Interthread Embroidery can take any name, logo or vision and turn it into a wearable piece that stands out.
The Huntington business started with humble beginnings over 23 years ago, out of the basement of owner Maryann DeSimone. Each year, Interthread has grown and gained more customers allowing DeSimone to setup a full studio that serves any embroidery or screen printing needs.

“It’s just been growing every year,” DeSimone said. “Last year, I grew over 20 percent. It’s a great business and I’ve loved doing it all these years.”

DeSimone worked as a salesperson for embroidery equipment for three years, giving her an opportunity to learn the industry inside and out. Ready to start a  business of her own, she leased a machine, taking orders from local organizations and schools.

DeSimone’s husband designed the logo, representing her family with five points of a star. Beginning at a time when the internet was just developing, Interthread represents the advancement of technology.

“I know for me when I started my business it was a big thing to choose the name and logo that matches up to my vision,” DeSimone said. “This is important to people. When they choose to embroider and wear this, it’s a representation of who they are and the business they’ve built.”

Interthread caters to a variety of industries from non-profits to local businesses. As long as an item can be “hooped,” meaning it fits in a clamp that holds it in the machine, it can be embroidered, so the possibilities are endless. Those looking to place an order are invited to stop by the studio to get a glimpse of Interthread’s operations. A rendering of the finished product will be created to ensure it meets the customer’s wishes.

“I feel when someone comes here, we can walk them through the process and show them the embroidery machine,” DeSimone said. “Many are amazed by the technology. We can show them exactly how a name will look in a particular font.”

If a business has a distinct logo, it can be immortalized through digitization. DeSimone works with a digitizing company that converts the logo into a code the machinery will understand.

“The digitizing is very important,” DeSimone said. “It will start as a blank canvas, then the machine knows to sew the red down first, then green on top and so on. It looks like a blob of colors, but then details emerge and black is usually last to outline them.”

To help customers reduce costs, Interthread offers an assortment of pre-digitized designs.

“People think embroidery is really expensive, but it doesn’t have to be,” DeSimone said. “We have 30-40 fonts and access to thousands of stock designs. So if someone wants a rainbow and name, we can find that and it doesn’t have to get sent for digitizing.”

Interthread does not set a minimum order size, taking on one piece or bulk orders. DeSimone does not believe in saying no. If her business has the ability to get it done, she gets it done.

To broaden services, Interthread brought in a heat-press machine that will silk screen and make large prints. A particular design can be converted into a screen or assembled with stock images.

“The prints I would say are used for larger space, like a full front or back of a t-shirt,” DeSimone said. “To do embroidery on a t-shirt that size would be expensive, since it’s based on stitch, and just heavy to wear. If there’s a lot of colors or big quantity, it’s a better option.”

DeSimone has rolled out a baby line that has been cherished by customers. Everything from baby blankets to stuffed animals can bear the initials and date of birth of a child.

DeSimone has expanded to monogramming jackets and bags.

“I’ve had customers from years ago, that have bought stuff for their child and say, ‘The only thing I put away from when Joey was a baby is the bathrobe from you.’ I love this, because when he grows up and pulls it out one day, he will know it was his,” DeSimone said.


Interthread Embroidery
Call for appointment

They’re On A Mission To Fix Your Nutrition

Brothers Anthony and Chris Giordano founded Mission Nutrition to share their passion for healthy eating.

Brothers Anthony and Chris Giordano founded Mission Nutrition to share their passion for healthy eating.

By Sophia Ricco

Mission Nutrition hopes to simplify the ever-changing health world by making beneficial choices abundant, and education a staple of every customer’s experience.

The Huntington village health store stocks a wide variety of diet-conscious goods, vitamins and CBD products. Owners and brothers Anthony and Chris Giordano opened Mission Nutrition to share their passion for eating healthy and maintaining one’s body. Initially sellers of vitamins and supplements through Amazon, the brothers felt they could offer more to customers with in-person interactions.

After opening their first store in Hicksville to remarkable success, the brothers brought Mission Nutrition to Huntington, adding a bar for health-conscious drinks.

“We figured why not take a chance and create an experience,” Chris said. “A place where people can come, learn, discover, and interact with supplements and lifestyle changes.”

With an expansive selection for the keto and paleo lifestyle, plant-based protein, natural protein, sports nutrition, personal and beauty care, herbs, herbal tea, vitamins, and supplements, Mission Nutrition stocks the latest products chosen by the Giordanos.

“We’re very passionate about health, the food we eat and our lifestyle,” Chris said. “We live the life.”

The brothers admit they ate plenty of junk food before making the switch to clean eating a few years ago. Once they observed a change in how their bodies felt day to day, they craved more energy and healthier food.

“Running the e-commerce took a lot. It was 12 hour days, six days a week,” Anthony said. “I was always tired. Then I read about different ways to eat and began incorporating them. I felt better and realized there might be something to this. Just to have that extra energy was awesome.”

Giordano wants people of all ages, genders and body types to feel comfortable shopping at Mission Nutrition. When a person visits the store, they may be asked about what they hope to achieve, their eating habits and health needs, before they are steered in the right direction. Giordano never wants anyone to feel pressured, but hopes suggestions simplify a shopping experience.

With no two bodies being the same, every recommendation is personalized, he added.
“We are a supplement and food store, but everything we believe starts with food,” Chris said. “Whether it’s digestion, auto-immune disease, inflammation or obesity, a lot of it stems from what you have been eating your whole life. If we can understand that, then we can help you take a path that changes those eating habits and puts you in a healthier place.”

Mission Nutrition wants to make eating healthy easy, by providing alternatives to people’s favorite snacks, that don’t lack in flavor. As the business has grown, the health market has bloomed and different lifestyles have become more accessible.

“What most people don’t realize is that there are options for everything and this store has it,” Anthony said. “Whether it’s bagels, ice cream, waffles, we are so far ahead of where we have been. It’s amazing, you can have all these treats, that were seen as bad but are now made with whole food ingredients and are delicious.”

They don’t expect people to completely change how they eat in a day, but find small adjustments like taking out gluten or dairy lead to results that motivate.

“It’s a gradual process and a lot of learning,” Chris said. “It’s exploring your body, pulling something out and putting in back in, then seeing how you feel.”

Mission Nutrition advocates for lifestyle changes, as opposed to following a diet. They hope to provide food choices that make it easy for people to sustain these lifestyles for years.

“It’s about making sure it’s the right food, not watching how much or restricting yourself,” Anthony said. “People will crash and burn when they’re not eating enough. They don’t want to be famished, they want to be fed with the right fuel.”

The Giordanos are always on the hunt for new products and feel their selection sets them apart from others. They typically work with innovator companies who push the boundaries on flavor and ingredients.

“We do due diligence with companies: where their products are made and sourced, their insurances, how they’re made,” Chris said. “Mine and Anthony’s experience and backgrounds come from that, so we’re able to scout those products.”

The bar at Mission Nutrition is a hub for discussion where regulars share tips and techniques for eating and lifestyle while enjoying a smoothie or shake. Those following the paleo or keto lifestyle can enjoy bulletproof coffee that is high-fat, low-carb. Or improve the elasticity of hair, skin and nails with the Bad to the Bone smoothie made from chicken bone broth protein that is full of collagen.

“It’s start with what you eat – that’s first – then exercising,” Anthony said. “I tell people, you could do this at age 50, 60 or 70. You could still be doing all the same things but you have to make the change now. It’s all about putting the right things in your body and quality of life getting better.”

307 Main St, Huntington

Enter The World Of Elysian Hair Spa

Stylist Colleen Moran completes a “curly cut” that has clients wear their curls naturally for two customized cuts.  Long islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

Stylist Colleen Moran completes a “curly cut” that has clients wear their curls naturally for two customized cuts. Long islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

By Sophia Ricco

Step into Elysian Hair Spa in Huntington village and find yourself immersed in a world of beauty, with naturally-derived elements and experienced stylists.

All of your glamorous wishes can be granted, whether it’s a new cut or color to adorn your locks, a fresh face of make-up with shaped eyebrows, or refreshment for the pores with healing facials. Owner Josephine Pearsall has worked diligently to craft a complete beauty affair for anyone who walks in the door. A warm welcome greets guests who are given a list of libations that can be enjoyed during the venture.

“All we’re about is customer service. It’s number one,” Pearsall said. “We are always friendly and welcoming. We want the entire experience to be better than anywhere.”

After working at the Haven, the salon that previously occupied the Main Street storefront,  Pearsall took over the business in 2016. She spruced up the salon, brought in a new color scheme and styling chairs and worked to improve her stylists’ knowledge.

“I just felt the industry was not where it should be,” Pearsall said. “I always felt it could be more. I want stylists to be respected.”

Pearsall and her staff are capable of achieving just about any hair desires, whether it’s an intricate up-do or flowing extensions. They offer a multitude of dye colors from natural highlights to bright pinks and purples, though they tend to stay on the natural end of the spectrum.

“I feel we attract clientele who want natural looking hair,” Pearsall said. “We don’t see a lot of the fashion colors but we do have a few young girls who love it.”

For the summer, Elysian is “face framing” with highlights in the front strands to create the illusion of “sun-lightened” hair. A signature at Elysian, the “curly cut” lets curls flourish and bounce.

“We cut it curl by curl, then they shampoo and dry it under the ‘curly cut dryer,’ and then we go over it one more time,” Pearsall said. “This dries their hair in the natural way their curls fall. It’s more customizable because one area could be more or less curly.”

But it’s not just hair that gets the special treatment at Elysian. The salon has two floors making it possible to host bridal or birthday parties. there is a spray tan booth and a private healing room for facials.

A top priority for Pearsall is ensuring her staff is educated on techniques and equipped with the best tools. She requires stylists to attend monthly classes to brush up on skills and pick up new ones.

Elysian uses Eufora products that contain organic aloe, natural plant extracts and essential oils to give clients wonderful color and shine.

Elysian uses Eufora products that contain organic aloe, natural plant extracts and essential oils to give clients wonderful color and shine.

 “I’ve been doing hair for 18 years and I still go to classes,” Pearsall said. “You may think you there isn’t anything left to learn, but I’m still surprised about what I’m learning.”

In the transition to Elysian, only one stylist remained at the salon giving Pearsall the opportunity to choose her staff of stylists. Before allowing them on the floor, Pearsall trained each through weekly classes.

“I like to train stylists as assistants, then move them up,” Pearsall said. “I feel this way they are trained knowing the standards and don’t have any bad habits.”

Elysian uses Eufora products exclusively. From shampoo to hair dye to deep conditioner, all of the blends contain organic aloe and other natural plant extracts and essential oils. Pearsall feels these ingredients produce great color and shine.

“They are eco-friendly,” Pearsall said. “Many of their products have aloe in them, which is great for sensitive or dry scalp.”

In case of an allergy to aloe or beeswax, Elysian carries an alternative dye brand, but for most, Elysian stylist’s can tailor Eufora’s variety of products to a person’s hair care needs, Pearsall said.

“Eufora is the only product line that doesn’t have water in it,” Pearsall said. “Water is just a filler, so they don’t put anything that’s not needed in their products. It’s very concentrated and full of all the good things, so people get a lot out of them.”

Over time, Elysian has garnered a clientele of regulars of all ages and genders. Even men immerse themselves in the experience, getting a sophisticated style while learning how to maintain their mane.

“With scissors we can give them more of a styled cut,” Pearsall said. “I always hear men say that at barbershops, they don’t like to use scissors. So we can style it, then talk to them about how to do their hair.”


Elysian Hair Spa
294 Main St, Huntington

The ‘Slow’ Movement Comes To The Flower Trade

Jaclyn Rutigliano and Marc Iervolino deliver and sell flowers from the back of their pickup truck “Baby Blue.”  Long Islander News Photo/Sophia Ricco

Jaclyn Rutigliano and Marc Iervolino deliver and sell flowers from the back of their pickup truck “Baby Blue.” Long Islander News Photo/Sophia Ricco

By Sophia Ricco

Hometown Flowers Co. is turning the floral world on its head by introducing Long Island’s first mobile and digital flower shop that only sources from local growers.

Look out for a 1976 Ford pickup truck called “Baby Blue” for it’s striking color, Hometown Flowers Co. delivers and sells floral arrangements across the Island. Flowers are sourced from Long Island and Queens farms.

Coming from two generations of florists, Jaclyn Rutigliano of Woodbury was never interested in the floral industry until one of her marketing clients acquainted her with the “slow flower process.”

“I didn’t realize it was a movement,” Rutigliano said. “She opened my eyes to the dark side of the flower industry. When they are imported, they are basically put to sleep and pumped with chemicals. It’s really commoditized.”

Rutigliano learned that prior to a trade deal with Latin America, 80 percent of flowers in America were U.S.A. grown. Now it is only 20 percent. She realized this was why she never connected to mass-produced flowers, despite utilizing floral design as stress relief.

“I would take the flowers home from people’s weddings and always take them apart and redesign them,” Rutigliano said. “Or I would prune our or my parent’s backyard and make thirteen arrangements in a row. I finally realized, I really like this and maybe I’ve got something here.

As she began reaching out to local farms and researching growing seasons, Rutigliano and her husband, Marc Iervolino knew they wanted to launch by this spring.

“I really want to focus on local because as I was talking to these farmers, I realized there’s a huge agricultural revitalization happening on Long Island,” Rutigliano said.“There are these badass farmers growing gorgeous things, all with amazing stories.”

The couple looked into a brick and mortar store until the “aha moment” hit to make it a mobile shop. This allows Hometown Flowers Co. to bring the best of western and east end farms to the entire Island.

“We are trying to form a connection, where people just feel that sense of hometown pride, as they have with their food,” Rutigliano said.

The “kitchen sink” is Hometown Flower Co.’s largest arrangement with 30 stems.  Photo/Sydney Leavitt

The “kitchen sink” is Hometown Flower Co.’s largest arrangement with 30 stems. Photo/Sydney Leavitt

Hometown Flowers Co. uses the florals in season to create arrangements that feature uncommon varieties and “embrace nature,” Freshness is key; flowers are delivered between 24-36 hours after they’re cut.

“We are mother nature dependent,” Rutigliano said. “It’s basically community-supported agriculture for flowers. You don’t know what will be delivered until it arrives. This is because we don’t know what we’re going to get until we go to the farmers. It’s whatever is fresh at the time of cutting.”

Hometown Flowers Co. offers subscriptions, as well as its pop-ups. One can brighten a business or home with a floral subscription that can be tailored to monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly and feature an eclectic mix of blossoms in sizes from 10 to 30 stems.

“I am someone who really doesn’t like your typical arrangement,” Rutigliano said. “I seek out the unusual and beautiful varieties growing nearby. I don’t want to do what everyone else is designing. Something I learned about myself is I cannot copy or recreate. I don’t know what I’m designing until I just do it.”

Hometown Flowers Co. loads up “Baby Blue” for festivals, markets and fairs where they sell bunches of flowers and arrangements out of the bed of the truck. This summer they will NE at the Babylon and Roslyn Farmers Markets on Sundays and Wednesdays.

“Our tagline is ‘embrace your roots,’” Rutigliano said. “It has multiple meanings, of embracing your own physical roots, embracing our hometown roots, and embracing roots that grow naturally.”

They will give back to those roots by donating a portion of subscription proceeds to the Peconic Land Trust in Southampton.

“It just felt like the perfect synergy,” Rutigliano said. “We want to increase awareness and demand for local flowers, because with more demand, we can get more flowers from farmers. Then they are able to expand their operations.”

Rutigliano is looking forward to future growing seasons, and excited to incorporate seasonal buds and vines in bouquets.

“I love embracing what’s available, so even in the winter, I will be working with evergreens, berries and branches,” Rutigliano said. “I just think this creates a dynamic, interesting arrangement.”

Hometown Flowers Co. hopes to bring a fresh feeling with every delivery. Each  comes wrapped in a paper bag with a sack of flower food.

“Flowers connect you back to nature,” Rutigliano said. “In this digitally-connected, fast-paced world we live in, this gives you a moment to just breathe in the smell and brighten your home.”


Hometown Flowers Co.
Long Island

Spreading Happiness Two Socks At A Time

John Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, leads the business John’s Crazy Socks. Packages are personalized with John’s face, a thank you note and candy, making them a “package of happiness.”  Long Islander News photo/Sophia Ricco

John Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, leads the business John’s Crazy Socks. Packages are personalized with John’s face, a thank you note and candy, making them a “package of happiness.” Long Islander News photo/Sophia Ricco

By Sophia Ricco

Socks say a lot about a person. They are not only a vehicle for our feet but can spread a message of happiness and inclusion as John’s Crazy Socks has proven.

The Melville-based sock business was started by father and son Mark and John Cronin in 2016. Born with Down syndrome, John has played an instrumental role in developing and leading the business. During his last year attending Huntington High School and Wilson Tech where he studied retail and customer service, John began to ponder what the future would hold.

“He was trying to figure out what he would do when school is done,” Mark said. “But the reality is, there aren’t many good job options for people with differing abilities. In many ways, John is a natural entrepreneur. If he didn’t see what he wanted, he would create it himself.”

Inspired by his love for wearing “crazy socks,” John pitched the idea of selling snazzy socks to his father.

“I love crazy socks because they’re fun, colorful and creative,” John said. “They let me be me.”

His love for wacky socks and making people with smile made John’s Crazy Socks’ mission simple, spreading happiness. They execute this in a multitude of ways, from donating five percent of earnings to the Special Olympics to personalizing deliveries to creating “awareness” socks.

“Everything we do is designed to spread happiness,” Mark said. “We have a different business model. It’s a social enterprise. So we have a social and business mission. They’re indivisible.”

The missions work together, each helping propel the other forward. At first launched with a “lean startup” to see what could happen, John’s Crazy Socks found a few suppliers and posted videos to Facebook of John introducing the business and their mission.

“I talked about socks in the video,” John said. “Then came up with the catchphrase: ‘socks, socks and more socks.’”

The videos got traction and when John’s Crazy Socks opened on December 9, there was an outpouring of support and in-pouring of orders from the community.

“Most of our initial orders were local, which makes sense because we live in Huntington and are involved in the community,” Mark said. “John went to Huntington schools and he’s active in the Chamber of Commerce.”

To make the first orders special, John personally delivered the socks to local homes. With a commitment, to make things personal, John’s Crazy Socks packages every order with care. As a pick-and-pack warehouse, “Sock Wranglers” find the socks, that are assembled in a red box by “Happiness Packers,” the job titles given by John.

“We have stickers, with their names and pictures on them,” Mark said. “You get a package with John’s smiling face on it. You open it up and get your socks, a thank you note from John with our story on the flipside, two discount cards, candy and the pictures of the people who put your order together. You’re not just getting socks, it’s a package of happiness.”

They have ensured anyone will find socks that make them smile, stocking over 2,300 varieties from 27 suppliers.

“We are now the world’s largest sock store, in terms of choice,” Mark said. “We are the one-stop shop for sock’s for everyone.”

Although they don’t design all of their socks, John’s Crazy Socks has created multiple “awareness” socks for Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s and other organizations, with a portion of proceeds donated. In two years they have donated over $280,000 to charity partners, Mark said.

For a sock surprise, they offer a Sock of the Month Club, and themed-packages coveriong everything from cats to sports.

“When we look at products to carry, the criteria we look at is, does it spread happiness,” Mark said. “And can John get excited about it? Our socks we sell let people express their personality, since we have such diversity, anyone can find something they love.”

John’s Crazy Socks stands as a symbol for hope and inspiration. In the first month, they shipped 452 orders and continue to grow. John as the leader and face of the business exemplifies what a person with differing abilities can accomplish when given the opportunity.

“People want to buy socks,” Mark said. “And people want to buy socks from John, because they relate to him with those personal videos. Many people found John inspirational, particularly from families who had children with Down Syndrome or Autism, because it showed the possibilities.”

They create a unified workplace, by employing 23 people with differing abilities, out of a workforce of 39. John highlights what he and his fellow employees achieve, by speaking throughout the country and hosting school tours, work groups and social service agencies at the warehouse.

“We’re a little company, all we want to do is change the world,” Mark said. “We want to show what people with different abilities can do.”

John’s Crazy Socks
40 Republic Road, Melville

Crab Meadow Films Sets The Scene

With over 25 years of experience and numerous screen credits, Joe Livolsi, below, founded Crab Meadow Films in 2006 to concentrate on the lighting aspects of film production.

With over 25 years of experience and numerous screen credits, Joe Livolsi, below, founded Crab Meadow Films in 2006 to concentrate on the lighting aspects of film production.

By Sophia Ricco

In his many years on set, Joe Livolsi has mastered the art of storytelling through lighting and perspective. With countless screen credits and roles in various production companies, Livolsi decided to focus his expertise on a new chapter and founded Crab Meadow Films in 2006. The Northport-based production company can have a variety of duties on a project, from camerawork to lighting to grips and set up. Livolsi finds himself working on films with many directors he had previously trained in the field.

“As the director of photography, I’m in charge of the overall look of the project,” Livolsi said. “As gaffer you are the head lighting technician or director. In my years, I’ve transitioned to more of the lighting director but I still shoot every once and a while.”

When Livolsi is in charge of lighting, there are many variables he takes into account to determine the mood.

Livolsi stores a variety of camera and lighting equipment at his shared studio space in Northport.

Livolsi stores a variety of camera and lighting equipment at his shared studio space in Northport.

 “When you walk into a room, you need to assess, what’s the best direction to be shooting this?,” Livolsi said. “How much power do you have? How high are the ceilings? How much daylight is coming in? Can you use it or get rid of it?”

Before he started Crab Meadow Films Livolsi was part-owner of Lightfoot Grip and Electric. When that business was dissolved, Livolsi took over the lighting company and invested in top-notch equipment. He recently purchased LED lights that are smaller, change colors and don’t burn as hot.

“The newer lights make a bigger difference with how you light a scene and how quickly you can light it,” Livolsi said. “The efficiency is much better, because the amount of power you are drawing is a lot less.”

Livolsi and his colleagues share camera equipment and he shares a studio space with a fellow creator. Although, most of his work is done on location, Livolsi has utilized the studio for shooting.

Lighting and composition are crucial to Livolsi’s work.

Lighting and composition are crucial to Livolsi’s work.

During projects, he finds enjoyment working towards a common goal with the crew.

“As an ex-athlete, I always have liked the team-oriented type of atmosphere and getting used to working with people,” Livolsi said.

Livolsi, who grew up in Glen Cove, was introduced to film and television production during his junior year in high school by his “all-time favorite teacher.”

“I was in the first television class in ‘77, when Glen Cove had just gotten cameras,” Livolsi said. “He was kind enough to let us take the cameras after school and just play with them, go out and do our shticks.”

Livolsi got his start in the production industry with Brockway Broadcasting in Huntington. He began working with audio for the television show “World of Photography” where he met famous still photographers.

“I developed a feel for composition and lighting through working with these photographers,” Livolsi said. “It’s not just about the lighting of it, it’s the composition and how you frame a picture.”

Since then, Livolsi has worked on film, television and corporate projects around the world. He has since narrowed his work geographically to the tri-state region but treasures his time abroad.

“From Cambodia to working in the Philippines a couple times to Mexico, it’s a different culture. Having done that and seeing how other people work has helped me build my brand better since I can do many different things and interact with many cultures.”

Livolsi is in his first year as an adjunct professor at Hofstra University teaching lighting for a television course. He said he wants his students to feel they are working on a set and runs his classroom like a production.

“What I like to say in class is, ‘We paint with light,’” Livolsi said. From a visual standpoint, I may not have a brush or paint, but my palette is what I need to light, whether it’s a room or outside… Lighting is subjective, it’s how you feel.”

For Livolsi, the most exciting part of teaching is witnessing his students grasp the concept of lighting.

“At my first interview, I told a director, ‘I’m young and still learning,’” Livolsi said. “He said something that’s stuck with me, ‘I’m 77 and I’m still learning.’ This has reminded me to keep moving and evolving.”

Southdown Coffee Earns National Recognition

Southdown Coffee owner Mark Boccard brought a third-place trophy home to Huntington from the US Coffee Championships in Kansas City, Mo.

Southdown Coffee owner Mark Boccard brought a third-place trophy home to Huntington from the US Coffee Championships in Kansas City, Mo.

By Sophia Ricco

The signature roasts of Southdown Coffee that bring smiles to sippers’ lips were recently recognized as some of the best in the nation. Owner Mark Boccard recently brought home a third-place trophy for roasting from the 2019 US Coffee Championships held last month in Kansas City, Mo.

Not bad for a five-year-old coffee shop.

Southdown Coffee had a grassroots start with Boccard selling his roasts at farmer’s markets in 2014. He opened Southdown Coffee in Huntington shortly after.

From the start Boccard was eager to share his knowledge of coffee with the community. Customers received it with open arms.

And they continue to; Southdown Coffee opened a second location in Oyster Bay two years ago and will soon reach Glen Cove.

“My motivation was the same then as it is now, to bring top quality coffee to communities on Long Island, hiring and training serious coffee professionals who want to build careers with me or in the industry,” Boccard said. “These days I think just as much about how we’re going to provide enriching jobs with career potential as how we’re going to make good coffee.”

Rich and frothy cafe latte.

Rich and frothy cafe latte.

Don’t just ask him. Ask the judges at the coffee championship where Boccard placed third in the nation. The championship puts roasters to the test by asking them to “green grade” raw coffee beans, make a roast plan and roast it onsite. Boccard was delighted to get “a big thumbs up” from his fellow coffee-enthusiasts.

“I got involved in the competition because I thought it would be a good way to prove to the world that great coffee does exist on Long island,” Boccard said.

Java fans who step into Southdown Coffee are greeted by a giant roaster wafting the rich, aromatic scent throughout the shop. This is how the business currently roasts but Boccard plans to move this operation to the larger space in Glen Cove. At any given time, Southdown Coffee stocks several varieties and blends of coffee, in store and online through wholesale.

“Things we look for when buying coffee: high quality, sustainable farming, transparency of supply chain and how it tastes,” Boccard said.

Southdown Coffee’s espresso menu offers selections ranging from espresso-dominant to milky and frothy beverages. A classic cafe item, the latte ($4.50/5) is light with just enough foam on top, while rich notes of espresso still shine through. Bold flavors are found with the cortado ($4), that puts the espresso center stage. It’s a great pick-me-up.

“Our coffee menu focuses on bringing in a range of unique, high quality coffees from around the world,” Boccard said. “We obsess over roasting and maintaining our brewing standards in the cafes.”

Breakfast tacos with eggs, guacamole and chorizzo are among the menu offerings at Southdown Coffee.

Breakfast tacos with eggs, guacamole and chorizzo are among the menu offerings at Southdown Coffee.

While coffee may be the center of Boccard’s universe, he recognizes his customers don’t exist on caffeine alone. The Huntington location began selling a breakfast menu with a variety of egg sandwiches, burritos, tacos and extras. The breakfast tacos ($8) spice up eggs with chorizo, guacamole, salsa, and crema mexicana to make for a messy but satisfying bite. Handmade corn tortillas give it an authentic taste.

Given a name to match it’s popularity, the famous egg sandwich ($8) has won over the hearts of customers. Homemade tomato butter and bacon add a fresh and savory element.

Boccard admits the shop can get hectic, particularly in the morning. To aid efficiency he’s brought in an additional register, and once roasting operations have moved, more space will be available to sit.

“It’s definitely difficult to maintain standards as we get busy, but our crew does an excellent job. I will admit I never anticipated our food program being so popular so we’ve had to tweak things a lot over the years,” Boccard said.

Mark Boccard roasted his way to a third place trophy atteh U.S. Coffee Championships.

Mark Boccard roasted his way to a third place trophy atteh U.S. Coffee Championships.

Boccard is excited to open Southdown Coffee’s newest location in Glen Cove this May. He hopes to continue to provide quality products and service to customers, who have supported the business over the years.

“We always want to create a welcoming atmosphere,” Boccard said. “The positivity of our customers has always made this really easy too.”


Southdown Coffee
210-B Wall St, Huntington

The Art Of The Headshot With Len Marks

Photographer Len Marks, top right, says a headshot is more than just a picture, but a message conveyed through a person’s expression and body language.  Photos/Len Marks Photography

Photographer Len Marks, top right, says a headshot is more than just a picture, but a message conveyed through a person’s expression and body language. Photos/Len Marks Photography

By Sophia Ricco¶


At times, a picture can say more than words ever could. Photographer Len Marks has learned and experienced this in his over 30-year career.

From a young age, Marks recalls being fascinated by taking pictures. His older brother attended photography school. He started as a photographer in the music industry, and fell in love with the art of storytelling. He opened Len Marks Photography 30 years ago.

“I’ve always been a people-person. I enjoy the interaction of being human,” Marks said. “I enjoy smiling at someone and having them smile back, conveying emotion, passion and energy.”

Len Marks Photography was located in Cold Spring Harbor for 25 years when Marks focused primarily on wedding photographer. But with a desire for a new challenge, he transitioned to commercial, theatrical and business headshots and videos five years ago. As part of the shift, he moved to a studio in Huntington village.

“I came back to my roots, which are music and entertainment photography. Then that led to business portraits,” Marks said. “The internet and advent of social media brought an explosion in the need for professional business headshots. It’s no longer a luxury but a necessity for any business you do. People want to see your face and who you are.”

Marks recommends anyone in business should have a headshot. It gives the public a sense of who they’re working and doing business with.

A professional portrait puts a face to to the business.

A professional portrait puts a face to to the business.

“A great headshot is a very effective way of conveying an emotion quickly,” Marks said. “It’s not just a picture, done properly it conveys your entire message in the blink of an eye.”

A headshot can convey varying messages based on expression and body language. When Marks conducts a session, he engages in conversation about the person’s job or business, giving them a sense of comfort and confidence. Based on a client’s career field, he will look to draw out a particular message. If a client is a doctor or lawyer, he would want them to give off a sense of authority while a yoga teacher or care professional should convey a sense of warmth and welcomeness.

“Headshot photography is 90 percent psychology and 10 percent photography,” Marks said. “Without the people skill, it’s just a picture. Any photographer should be able to create a technically good shot. What sets me apart from others is my ability to get into their mind and soul, to capture what it is they really do.”

When it comes to commercial and theatrical headshots, Marks must pull a wide range of emotions from the actor. He finds it fascinating to watch seasoned actors transform between intense emotions quickly.

“I use what’s called back story,” Marks said. “This is similar to what actors use to motivate their characters. During the portrait process I’m giving them a story that I’m making up and never know what’s going to happen, but I’m giving them scenarios, like ‘you’re a dock worker, but you’re not an honest worker.’”

Meet the photographer… Len Marks.

Meet the photographer… Len Marks.

In addition to photography and video, Len Marks Photography offers professional hair and makeup services that can give the final polish to a look. Marks will discuss this option with clients when setting up an appointment.

“Headshot makeup in the theatrical world is slightly different than what you would wear to work,” Marks said. “You barely know it’s there, but it’s done properly and makes the difference. A headshot is about reality, it’s not like a fashion photo. Makeup is there to enhance, but not overtake.”

Depending on how many looks a person is looking to capture, a session can take an hour to multiple hours. Those taking a business portrait will sit down with Marks afterward to review and edit the photographs. This allows them to leave with the finished product.

For Marks, it’s crucial he photographs genuine emotion. For business people, reality and passion for their business will motivate this, while an actor must emotionally invest into a fictional scenario.

“I don’t take lightly my ability to steer people’s emotions into a certain place,” Marks said. “That’s what headshot photography is. It’s not about cameras, lights and backgrounds, these are constants. It’s about the emotions brought out in sessions.”

Find Your Your New Secret Ingredient Here

Owners, Bob and Mona Rossero, have had remarkable success since opening The Crushed Olive in Huntington over nine years ago, opening four more stores on Long Island.

Owners, Bob and Mona Rossero, have had remarkable success since opening The Crushed Olive in Huntington over nine years ago, opening four more stores on Long Island.

By Sophia Ricco

 It doesn’t take much to spice up a meal or keep skin soft, with the help of nature’s oils and The Crushed Olive in Huntington village.

The store sells over 60 different olive oils and vinegars, that are held to a high standard of quality and freshness. Owners, Mona and Bob Rossero, originally opened The Crushed Olive while living in Hickory, North Carolina, after visiting another oil tasting shop.

“We had no idea what we were doing, but put one foot in front of the other,” Mona said. “We got the store open before Thanksgiving and it was an instant success.”

Both Long Island natives, they decided to bring their business back home and opened their first store in Huntington in 2011. Since then, The Crushed Olive has opened four stores on Long Island, spanning from Babylon to Wading River. They offer a unique shopping experience, allowing customers to sample multiple oils and discover flavors, like blackberry ginger olive oil and passion fruit balsamic vinegar.

“Our real success is that people can try anything they like,” Bob said. “If you’re shopping somewhere, you’ll see a lot of bottles but have no idea what it tastes like. Here you can actually taste it and try it with some bread, then we can fill it fresh for you.”

The Crushed Olive sells over 60 flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrettes, that can all be tasted in the store.

The Crushed Olive sells over 60 flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrettes, that can all be tasted in the store.

Business has boomed at the shops as people become more cognitive of what they are putting into their bodies. Part of food groups on Facebook, Mona has seen members search for healthy options, that tastes good.

“I honestly think people are starting to think more about where their food is coming from and what’s in it,” Mona said. “When I see people looking for salad dressings, all I think is there’s so much junk in it. Where as you could take a teaspoon of olive oil and vinegar and mix it together. There’s no chemicals, no added sugar, it’s like wine, there’s nothing added to it.”

It’s easy to incorporate oils and vinegars while cooking. The Crushed Olive providing recipe cards and inspiration for dishes. Turn a simple boxed brownie mix into a fruity sensation, by substituting canola oil for blood orange olive oil. A favorite with foodies, the tuscan herb olive oil blends classic seasonings together, with sundried tomato and garlic for a punch of Italian zest.

“I think people like the ease, that you can take a plain piece of fish or a bowl of pasta and just add a little bit of olive oil and vinegar, and you’re done,” Mona said. “You don’t have to have herbs on hand, it does all the guesswork for you.”

The Crushed Olive is supplied by a top-notch distributor, who grew up in the business and has extremely high quality standards, supplying the military and U.S. Olympic teams as well. They call her a “Mother Earth”, who has taught them a great deal about oils.

“She travels all over the world and procures these olive oils,” Mona said. “Everytime there is a harvest, which is every six months, she goes to the different estates and tests them, to make sure they are what they say they are.”

During a visit to California, Mona had the opportunity to watch the oil making process. From the farmers shaking the trees and the olives falling right into the hopper to processing, washing and crushing them into a thick paste.

“All of our olive oils are first pressed and cold pressed,” Mona said. “The first press will be the highest in nutrients and if you use warm water, you get a bigger yield but it’s not as high in nutritional value.”

Considered to be the freshest and highest grade, extra virgin olive oil is not treated with chemicals or altered by temperature, giving it many nutritional and health benefits. The Crushed Olive recommends to always check the chemistry of extra virgin, to ensure it is authentic.

“Labs basically take a sample of the olive oil and do a chemistry on it, to make sure it’s fresh, the antioxidants are accurate and the fruit was fresh when harvested,” Mona said.

Extra virgin olive oil should have high levels of oleic acid, low peroxide value, a high polyphenol count and a small percentage of free fatty acids, indicating the fruit was fresh.

Freshness is key. It is essential to use olive oil with a year of purchasing, for maximum flavor. Once a person finishes a bottle, they are encouraged to clean and bring it back for recycling.

“We find that when people first come in, they buy the smaller bottles and as they come back, they get bigger and bigger bottles,” Bob said. “We have five size bottles, so you have the small one to try it, up to the big 750.”


The Crushed Olive

278 Main St, Huntington


Solve A Crime On A Deliciously, Diabolical Tour

By Sophia Ricco

 A crime has been committed in Huntington and it’s up to foodies to follow clues and their appetite to figure out. Food Done It?

This one-of-a-kind food tour experience, Food Done It?, combines the fun of solving a mystery with a sampling of Long Island’s prime restaurants. Founders Elizabeth and Kevin Hindley, wanted to showcase local eats with a fun twist inspired by escape rooms, trivia and the TV show Sherlock. The idea came to Elizabeth in 2017 after a student’s parent asked her about her passion for food.

Elizabeth has a deep appreciation for Huntington’s village full of eateries.

“In Huntington I had grown up going from restaurant to restaurant,” Elizabeth said. “We would never eat at one place. We’d always have a progression. Have a little bit of this and a little of that. We would call it ‘grazing’.”

The Hindleys took the idea of a mystery food tour and ran with it studying towns’ restaurants scenes, crafting characters for the crimes, and creating engaging puzzles for clues. As a grassroots startup, Food Done It? was eager work with other local businesses.

“Our heart and our passion is to celebrate Long Island restaurants with our tour,” Elizabeth said. “These are people who are spending thousand of dollars, have their whole heart in it and have so many moving pieces, we want to showcase that.”

Food Done It? operates in Huntington, Patchogue and Babylon. Each locale has a unique mystery to solve, from an stolen engagement ring to a chili-eating champion found dead in a freezer.

“We’re basically building a fictitious town on Long Island called Mist Reef Hill,” Elizabeth said. “If you say it really fast, it sounds like mystery-ville. We’re trying to set the level really high, so that the people who really do get into it understand these little nuances.”

“Inspectors” for the F.D.I. are equipped with glasses adorned with fake mustaches as they eat their way through the crime at a variety of eateries.

“Every tour has literally and figuratively its own flavor,” Elizabeth said. “Some places bring out a huge platter that you can all dive into, while others have a mini-menu and you can choose your own.”

Those who embark on the “Cupcake Conundrum” in Huntington will enjoy five courses and around four hours of entertainment as they interrogate suspects and solve clues.

“People get tired of routine. We all have a need for comfort, but we also have a need for adventure,” Kevin said. “It hits that mark and helps people relax and have fun.”

Characters come to life with the help of drawings by California artist Jack Kasprzak and Kevin’s thoughtfully-written dialogue that gives each suspect a persona.

“Some people get really into the game and mystery, while other people are just foodies and love to try different things,” Kevin said. “It draws a lot of different kinds of people.”

Inspectors must solve puzzles related to the mystery, to unlock their next restaurant stop. As a teacher, Elizabeth was able to create interactive puzzles with props like wooden ciphers and magnets to simple word scramblers on paper.

“We had to create puzzles that were interactive and just at that sweet spot, where you’re waiting for your food to come and you’re enjoying the puzzle but it’s not too hard or easy,” Elizabeth said.

Living in East Patchogue, the Hindleys began Food Done It? locally, but were eager to bring the tour to other towns. They are hoping to expand and add a new town and mystery soon.

“The first time we went outside of Patchogue, we said it has to be Huntington and we love our Huntington partners,” Kevin said. “We’re really proud to be in Huntington.”

The Hindleys found Huntington has the most exotic cuisine of all the towns, offering inspectors a variety of flavors and atmospheres. Elizabeth feels, there is something about Huntington, that you can’t quite put your finger on, but something is extraordinary about the town. Food Done It? hopes to bring inspectors to hidden gems, that they may have never heard of but will walk away loving.

“We both love to cook and are foodies,” Kevin said. “We put together menus of food that are really high quality, delicious and pretty universal. We try to make it so that by the end of the tour, you feel like you’ve eaten a full meal.”

Food Done It? hosts afternoon and evening tours Tuesday through Thursday, as well as tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Tours cost $60 per person.


Food Done It?

Huntington, Babylon and Patchogue


Pair Brings Shared Working Space With a Killer View

Founders, David Jakubowski and William Cody created Colony Workplaces to bring co-working to Huntington.

Founders, David Jakubowski and William Cody created Colony Workplaces to bring co-working to Huntington.

By Sophia Ricco

Coworking has made its way to Huntington and it’s being led by Colony Workplaces, a collaborative office space that emphasizes community and prosperity.

This new term, “coworking”, means people working together in a shared space to allow creativity and collaboration to take place. Colony founders, David Jakubowski and William Cody witnessed a growing trend of shared work spaces and wanted to bring this outside of the city. They crafted their project for a year, opening Colony at the beginning of November.

“It’s not just a place to rent a desk, we’re creating a community here,” Cody said.

The environment coworking creates is crucial to its success, with a wide variety of businesses and people moving into Colony to work, it is sure to be a dynamic atmosphere. People who are starting or growing their business, will find many of their needs can be met through collaboration with other workers.

“That’s a big part of what coworking is,” Jakubowski said. “The more we can bring everyone together, the more happy and comfortable you are, the more you want to come and be with your colleagues in the office, the longer you’re going to stay.”

Colony goes by the motto, “Thrive at the hive.” This ties into their name and logo, that implies bees working hard for their honey, like those using the space will do. But in order for bees to do their best, they must be happy and work together.

“What we’ve tried to do is have calming colors to the wall, beautiful views, a fire pit outside, nice photos on the wall, good people around you,” Jakubowski said. “We’re creating a calm place to work.”

They plan on hosting fun events for the workers, like barbecues and Thursday Night football, to encourage sociability.

“It’s not all about work, it’s a work-life balance,” Cody said. “You want to be here, you get a lot of work done here but you also like your colleagues.”

For someone who works at home, Colony offers a professional and serene environment, with the benefit of making connections with others.

“They feel they’ve missed out on a lot of the office interaction,” Cody said. “Even though, these people may not be working for the same company, they miss the camaraderie.”

Colony’s expansive space offers common spaces, private offices and conference rooms.

Colony’s expansive space offers common spaces, private offices and conference rooms.

For Cody and Jakubowski, finding the right space to host Colony was critical. They didn’t want to settle for an office building or somewhere in the middle of town, where parking can be a nightmare. When they found this space by the waterfront, they knew it was a home run, with beautiful views, restaurants close by, and a parking lot.

“We wanted a serene setting in an off the beat and path location, where people could still have convenience,” Jakubowski said.

Colony offers common rooms, with spaces for quiet work, socialization, or a cup of coffee on a comfy seat. There are two private offices, giving workers more isolation with the ability to still venture into the common rooms. If someone is hosting a large group, there are two professional conference rooms equipped with TVs.

All of these spaces are adaptable and changeable, based on client needs. A person may only need half an office, so Colony will place another worker in there that has an alternating schedule. This allows them to keep their privacy, in a more cost-effective way.

“Someone asked us to take the meeting room out and put five desks in, we have the flexibility to convert anything… Things are going to evolve as we move along, we’re flexible to that,” Jakubowski said.

Colony offers a variety of packages to fit client’s needs and schedules. If a person works full-time at an office, but is working on a book or business on the side, they will have the off-hours package that allows them access outside of normal business hours.

“We always think creatively, if it works for you, it works for us,” Cody said.

Those interested in testing out the space can get access from Colony for a week to see if it’s the right fit for them. Colony expects to see a variety of businesses join them, from small start-ups to large corporations relocating their employees.

“We cover everything, electricity, internet, coffee, cable/TV, it’s all taken care of,” Jakubowski said. “It decreases your stress, because you just come in and start working, you don’t have to worry.”

Cody and Jakubowski plan to expand Colony to other towns on Long Island, but for now are focusing on their space by the sea.

“The view really is everything,” Cody said. “The way we designed this space is that no matter where you are in the hive, you’re gonna be looking at the harbor.”

Colony Workplaces

133 New York Avenue, Huntington


Camp Alvernia's Tradition of Summertime Fun

Counselors stop to smile for a photo during a busy day at Camp Alvernia.

Counselors stop to smile for a photo during a busy day at Camp Alvernia.

By Sophia Ricco

Camp Alvernia is looking forward to another summer of fun in the sun, with outdoor activities and positive development of children’s life skills.

The eight-week day camp located on Centerport Harbor has hosted adolescents since the 19th century when the land was purchased by the Franciscan Brothers for summer retreats. Brother Isidore Garvey was dedicated to youth education and brought students to the property as an escape from city life. He called it “Alvernia” after Mount LaVerna in Italy.

Camp Alvernia was an all-boys sleepaway camp until the 1970s when demand shifted to a day camp and it was opened to girls.

“Parents are looking for something that their kids can do that’ll be fun, help them build relationships, and get outside,” camp director, Ben Esposito said. “Camp Alvernia, because we’re kind of an old-fashioned, throwback kind of camp, I think we provide this.”

Each summer, Camp Alvernia hosts over 900 boys and girls aged 3-14 for camp days full of engaging activities from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Over the course of the summer, Camp Alvernia hosts four two-week sessions as well as before- and after-camp care, plus a leadership training program for teens. Daily curriculum is tailored to a camper’s age and gender. Campers participate in a variety of sports, water endeavors and environmental discoveries.

“Each two weeks is a complete camp experience” Esposito said. “We will plan a schedule with a good mix of activities so they will do a little bit of everything. New ideas keeps kids coming back and keeps them interested.”

Camp Alvernia’s mission is to grow each of their camper’s “spiritual, moral, and physical advancement” in a safe environment. The camp has a t-shirt with the saying, “Kids need dirt”, that Esposito feels can be taken two ways. In a literal sense, that children should be outside, instead of glued to their screens. But also that kids sometimes need to experience challenges in life, in order to grow.

“These are social situations they must deal with, like trying something out and failing, then figuring out what to do differently,” Esposito said. “Or trying something new and being nervous about it. All of those challenges end up being something that can stimulate a child and help them learn new things.”

Esposito finds children develop a true sense of confidence when they overcome obstacles themselves in a healthy, supportive atmosphere. Camp Alvernia hosts theme days each session, like Pirate Day to Carnival Day. A favorite with campers, the annual Red vs. Blue Day divides the camp in teams to battle it out in a number of athletic challenges.

Camp Alvernia is equipped with the perfect environment to suit their educational programs. Each day campers have eight periods of activities, including a lunch, swim and free time.

“We try to pay attention to preserving that feeling of being in the woods and campers really get a chance to be in nature,” Esposito said. “I believe you respect and appreciate the nature that you grew up with and remember as a child.”

The camp’s access to the water also gives campers an opportunity to find their way on the water through paddle boating, canoeing and sailing. The camp offers a recreational sailing and certified sailing program to older campers.

“If we’re running programs and the kids feel a little bit pushed and challenged, I think that’s a good thing to get them out of their comfort zone,” Esposito said.

As campers get older, the staff recognizes many teens will begin to feel more socially conscious of those around them and instead of rising to a challenge, wait for others to make a move.

“We try to break the ice and get them out of their shell and say, ‘Let’s all be silly together. It’s OK if you don’t know what you’re doing.’ ” Esposito said. “The key is that staff person who acts as a role model and makes a good connection with the kids.”

Counselors at Camp Alvernia are expected to lead their campers with good morals and values, have patience in stressful situations, anticipate and avoid safety concerns, help children navigate conflicts and communicate fully with parents.

“We look for someone who really enjoys making connections with kids, is willing to be on the level with them and enter into their world,” Esposito said. “Everything that we do with youth development begins with trust. You have to respect the children, you have to listen and understand them, you have to care about them.”

Camp Alvernia is currently enrolling campers for four sessions between Jun. 27 - Jul. 5, Jul. 8 - Jul. 19, Jul. 22 - Aug. 2, and Aug. 5 - Aug. 16. Camp Alvernia is open to all religions, races, and national origins.

Camp Alvernia
105 Prospect Rd, Centerport

Martial Arts Works The Mind And Body

A class of 7-9 year-old students graduate to their next belt at Atomic TaeKwondo in Huntington.

A class of 7-9 year-old students graduate to their next belt at Atomic TaeKwondo in Huntington.

By Sophia Ricco

Martial arts students at Atomic Tae Kwon Do are training not just their bodies but their minds as well to be ready for any obstacle life may throw.

The Huntington village martial arts studio, opened by Master Bart Pontecorvo and Dr. Luiza Raab-Pontecorvo in 2006, focuses on teaching life skills through taekwondo and jiu jitsu. After meeting through taekwondo, the couple wanted to blend Pontecorvo’s career in occupational therapy with Raab-Pontecorvo’s creative side. Their massive space hosts an open floor of mats and a “connection” zone, where cell phones are prohibited so parents watch and support their children.

At Atomic, it’s all about creating positive pathways in a student’s brain when they attend class. They become aware that people react and interpret situations based on how their brain is wired. Instead of reprimanding students with “three strikes,” students have “three opportunities to make it better.”

Master Bart Pontecorvo and Dr. Luiza Raab-Pontecorvo teach martial arts as a workout for both the body and the mind.  Long islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

Master Bart Pontecorvo and Dr. Luiza Raab-Pontecorvo teach martial arts as a workout for both the body and the mind. Long islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

 “Just because I’m a master doesn’t mean they have to listen to me,” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “It’s more that if I have a good influence on them, then they will trust me and will learn, because we have good energy.”

Atomic offers five 10-week sessions a year that students can join at any time, and holds belt tests in between. They keep students engaged by holding two classes a week with dynamic lesson plans and over 900 drills for various ages. They play fun games with younger students, so instead of punching a bag, they “throw snowballs.”

“It’s all about creating a story in their mind, if they have a fun story, then they can put themselves in a very optimistic state,” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “When do you learn the best? When you’re in the right state.”

Atomic understands students come after school with varying emotional states and many have been sitting at a desk all day and just want to let loose. To bring tranquility, they begin class with students taking time on the mat to find calmness and stillness through breathing.

“Parents ask us, ‘How do you make them sit and stay still? I can’t even do that at home for two seconds,’” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “It establishes a habit for when they are older and get stressed out. They know to take three breaths before responding to someone.”

Every age group has its own set of life skills students are working to master. Ages 3-4 work on skills like kicking and punching; ages 5-6 focus on teamwork; ages 7-9, courage and perseverance; and ages 10-14, versatility and vision.

“It’s physical, but it’s also very mental,” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “You fight yourself in your mind to find discipline.”

Martial arts functions as a social and individual sport, where students learn to work with one another, while progressing at their own speed. Each class, one skill is taught through drills tailored to practice the skill.

“At 5-6, the teamwork skill is introduced because it’s pre-academic. They’re preparing to go school, so they need to learn how to play nice with others, how not to fight or brag, and how to encourage others,” Pontecorvo said. “Through different physical exercises, we encourage these social skills.”

Raab-Pontecorvo studied the concept of “neuro-linguistic programming” at the Human Communication Institute in Arizona and applies the technique by combining physical activity with mental stimulation.

“Many people have a narrow mindset that martial arts is kicking bags and punching,” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “That’s not what it is at all. The skills we teach are so complex with the moves and that’s when you start increasing memory space, because your brain has to analyze it and your neurotransmitters are firing.”

Once a student masters a skill, he or she receives a stripe on their belt and after receiving eight stripes can move on to the next belt. Each belt color corresponds to a specific character trait, like empathy or perseverance, making each a symbolic accomplishment.

“When you’re growing as a black belt, it’s not because you’re awesome at self-defense, it’s about having these traits within and knowing you have tools to get better,” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “They will face life situations completely different from someone else, who might fall apart in certain situations.”

Atomic also teaches adult classes to students from 16 to 60-plus. Each come to the mat with their own motivation.

“For some it’s just hitting that bag because they’re stressed out and want to release it,” Raab-Pontecorvo said. “Many of them, have found their bodies become stiff with age and want to work on their flexibility. And others come for self-defense, because they want the tools to protect themselves and their families.”

Hit The Refresh On Your Interior

Fresh Design Group founder Sharon Gunther is armed with a tape measure and project plans in the midst of a remodeling project.

Fresh Design Group founder Sharon Gunther is armed with a tape measure and project plans in the midst of a remodeling project.

By Sophia Ricco

Take your dreams for your home and turn them into a reality with the help of Fresh Design Group, a local business beautifying Long Island one house at a time.

Fresh Design was founded in 2008 by interior, kitchen and bath designer Sharon Gunther. She finds great joy in work that stimulates her artistic and scientific sensibilities.

“I started remodeling homes I was living in and I really liked the process. I love that it uses both sides of my brain,” Gunther said. “It’s very mathematical and precise, which I am, but it’s also creative because you get to play with beautiful colors, fabrics and finishes.”

After earning a bachelors degree from Tufts University, Gunther went back to school for a degree in interior design. She became a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and is certified by the American Society of Interior Designers. A combination of her schooling and hands-on experience has given Gunther the expertise for seamless remodels.

“There is so much detail and technical knowledge that goes into remodeling and designing a kitchen,” Gunther said. “It makes the clients’ life a lot easier if you’re well-versed in the technical aspect.”

Precision is key, which is why Gunther measures down to an 1/8th of an inch. She finds the details are what makes designs stand out, from door knob colors to the shape of a kitchen island.

“We pride ourselves on a huge level of detail,” Gunther said. “A lot of clients have said I’m so detailed-oriented, but that’s what makes a project beautiful.”

There will always be bumps in the renovating road, but Gunther works to minimize these bumps for clients. Depending on the size of the project, it can be completed in a month or go several years. Gunther said she has high standards in customer service, so Fresh Design has many repeat clients who are continuously making improvements.

“I obsess about making my clients happy. I know my home has always been important and every detail matters to me,” Gunther said.

There’s symmetry, simplicity and an eye for the detail in this Fresh Designs interior.

There’s symmetry, simplicity and an eye for the detail in this Fresh Designs interior.

The designer is open to working with any vision or style, from contemporary to traditional and everything in between. She welcomes the challenge of variety and figuring out her clients’ different personalities.

“I want to client to feel at home in their own home,” Gunther said. “I go to great length to spend a lot of time with them and get to know them, most of my clients and I become very friendly. I want to figure out what their tastes are.”

When Gunther first meets with a client, they will sit down together and dissect photographs to figure out their likes and dislikes. Gunther then determines which samples and product options to show, while knowing where to push the boundaries.

“I really encourage my clients to think outside the box and I will push them outside their comfort zone at some point,” Gunther said. “If they play it totally safe, it will look like everyone else’s home and they’re going to be disappointed. You have to let the designer take chances, when they learn to trust the designer, that’s when they’re the happiest.”

Fresh Design offers exclusive pieces through the brands they represent, including six kitchen cabinetry brands, sixty different lines of furniture, window treatments and shades, and smart home set-up. Many are customizable, giving Gunther the option to completely design an item.

“They are all sourced – it’s called, ‘to the trade’ — It’s not something you could buy at a showroom,” Gunther said. “It’s always a better-made product than you buy in retail and it gives them a more unique look. But the costs are on par with the showroom, or less.”

Gunther is assisted by an interior designer and kitchen designer. If a client is looking to revamp one part of their home, Fresh Design will create a computer aided design for spacing and sizing. But if further remodels may be in the future, they will create a master plan for the house.

“The most expensive thing you can do in your house is the thing you have to do twice,” Gunther said.

Discover A World Of Fantasy At Haven Gallery

Haven Gallery owner and curator Erica Berkowitz shows and sells art depicting fantasy.  Long Islander News photo/Sophia Ricco

Haven Gallery owner and curator Erica Berkowitz shows and sells art depicting fantasy. Long Islander News photo/Sophia Ricco

By Sophia Ricco

Haven Gallery has meticulously curated a world of wonders that draws intrigues and pushes boundaries on the conventions of art.

The Northport Village gallery features artists from around the world whose work embodies a whimsical, narrative nature. The newest exhibits opening this week are “Enchantress” by Eeva Nikunen, “Sanctuary” by Raúl Guerra, “Enchanted Wanderings” by Jessica Mulholland, “Inner Wilderness” by Nikole Cooney and Music Box IV. An opening reception will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, 6-8 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display until Feb. 17.

Owner and curator Erica Berkowitz cannot classify the artists into one particular genre or style, but finds it crucial that the work stirs her.

“This is how we like to be challenged and motivated, that intellectual, emotional, imaginative stimulation,” Berkowitz said. “We are quite particular with the work we show, that it embodies that.”

Her goal is to display work that “provokes people in a positive way,” causing them to think and feel while forming their own interpretations. She finds art is a tool for communication and prefers to have it speak for itself.

“When you’re looking at a piece, you’re projecting yourself onto that piece and you’re developing memories, emotions, people you might know, a dream you had onto what this artist is creating,” Berkowitz said. “It’s connecting you.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in art history from Stony Brook University and a master’s degree in contemporary art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Berkowitz worked as director of Last Rites Gallery in Manhattan for nearly three years. She desired more freedom in her decisions.

“I felt that under someone else’s authority I was limited and restricted with a genre I had loved before working in galleries,” Berkowitz said. “It was time for me to take the reigns.”

A little fearful, Berkowitz’s husband (and artist) Joseph Weinreb pushed her to take the plunge. Berkowitz, who grew up in Plainview, said there wasn’t enough diversity in art and wanted to bring her vision to Long Island. She now lives in Northport.

Northport artist Joseph Weinreb artistic adaption of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult is featured in the exhibit, Music Box IV.

Northport artist Joseph Weinreb artistic adaption of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult is featured in the exhibit, Music Box IV.

“We wanted to support where we live and bring something new to the area, but also bring more culture and education… This is something completely different, something Long Island has never seen before,” Berkowitz said.

Haven Gallery exhibits change monthly, providing a constant flow of fresh work. One element many of the artists share is precision with a refined touch. Take a glance at the art on the walls and you may think it was digitally rendered, but step closer and find many are paintings or drawings.

“I’m a perfectionist, so high quality work is essential to me and for the gallery,” Berkowitz said.  “The fact that you can’t tell that something is a painting, because it’s smooth, perfect and each detail is so tedious is important.”

Berkowitz selects every artist that will show, drawing from artists she’s worked with previously and those she has followed online for years. It is essential to Berkowitz that she loves an artist’s work before it is on display.

“At the end of the day, it’s our call who comes here,” Berkowitz said. “We are in complete control of that, because our aesthetic is very strict, we don’t like to deviate from what we show.”

For solo exhibitions, Berkowitz leaves everything up to the artist, from the theme to the pieces they choose. This month’s artists feature styles from around the world, Nikunen is from Finland, Guerra from Spain, Mulholland from England, and Cooney from Florida.

“I don’t care where they’re from. I don’t care if they’re just out of college. If they’re really that talented and communicating something I feel is important and we can share, then we will do that,” Berkowitz said.

Artist Julie Filipenko from Tel Aviv brings Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” to life for Haven’s Music Box IV exhibition.

Artist Julie Filipenko from Tel Aviv brings Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” to life for Haven’s Music Box IV exhibition.

Haven Gallery’s annual group show, Music Box IV hosts a variety of artists, who were inspired by a song or lyric and channeled this energy into a piece.

“Hopefully this connects people in a different way, because they’re looking at something visually but then also hearing a song in your head simultaneously, that can invoke the auditory and visual senses,” Berkowitz said.

Take a trip to the gallery and you may find yourself walking out with your own piece of art. Many have become “first-time collectors” at Haven Gallery.

“We’re working with young, mid-career and established artists, so we offer a variety of price points,” Berkowitz said. “We’re quite humble with our approach to selling work, since we offer payment plans. This makes art acquisitions much easier and something that anyone can do. Art shouldn’t be for the rich, it’s for everyone.”

Haven Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:30-6 p.m..

Haven Gallery
155 Main Street, Suite 4, Northport

A World of Experience In A Violin Studio

A former concert violinist, Dr. Joanna Kaczorowska has taught Huntington students for years at her studio, across the street from the Walt Whitman Shops.

A former concert violinist, Dr. Joanna Kaczorowska has taught Huntington students for years at her studio, across the street from the Walt Whitman Shops.

By Sophia Ricco

Find your pitch and never miss a beat while studying at Dr. Joanna Violin and Viola Studio, a private studio that incorporates techniques from around the world.

Founded and taught by Dr. Joanna Kaczorowska, she has integrated her teachings from Poland and the U.S. plus her experience at numerous world-renowned performances to instruct students. She rents a room at the Faust Harrison Piano Store and Studio for one-on-one lessons that range from half an hour to two hours. Kaczorowska takes on talented and inexperienced students alike from ages 6 to 18.

Kaczorowska has the chops. After obtaining her master’s degree in Poland, she was invited by esteemed violinist Charles Treger to study toward her master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She would later earn her doctoral degree from Stony Brook University where she became the Director of Undergraduate Performance and a professor.

“I combine two methods of teaching which are very different and I have been teaching for more than 20 years,” Kaczorowska said. “I have experience that yields great results.”

This year, three of her students made it to the final of the elite Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York Concerto competition. Only eight instrumental players were selected from Long Island and of those, only four are violinists or violists. Three are students of Kaczorowska’s.

Previously, Kaczorowska’s student Victor Jiao won first prize in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York and performed as a soloist in Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole violin concerto.

While she takes the study of violin seriously, “None of it is done through tears and sweat,” she said, “but with good laughter, cheer, enjoyment and encouragement.”

She encourages students to have fun at practice so they will develop a natural love for the instrument. She admits that when she was young, she did not enjoy practicing.

“When my students don’t like to practice, I say, ‘Fine, I’ll get you to love the instrument first then we’ll see if you can find the patience to practice,’” Kaczorowska said.

Kaczorowska encourages students to join an orchestra or band where they can play among other talented musicians.

“My students get very motivated once they join the orchestras. As they see other kids doing exceptionally well, a competitive element kicks in,” Kaczorowska said. “They just suddenly want to be best and show this to the whole school.”

This may start a fire within the student, who is vying for the coveted first chair, a designation of the most talent in their section, that leads them to put in the extra work at home.

“It’s a discipline, it’s a state of mind, it takes time to establish a routine for those students,” Kaczorowska said.

It won’t happen overnight, but in time Kaczorowska finds she doesn’t even have to remind her students to rehearse, it becomes a part of them.

“After a year, once a student has soaked up the environment, observed my other students and learned of their achievements, and start getting good results and feedback from their teacher at school, suddenly just the pride of playing an instrument kicks in,” Kaczorowska said.

Kaczorowska brings an extensive performance background to the table. She has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, the Emerson String Quartet and many others, and played at Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and Beethoven's Haus.

“I not only teach, but I teach how to be an artist, how to go through life as a musician,” Kaczorowska said.

Kaczorowska hosts three to four recitals a year to give students experience playing in the spotlight.

“You can only learn how to perform on stage, by performing on stage,” Kaczorowska said. “One thing is teaching in the safe environment of a studio one-on-one, another thing is experiencing something like NYSSMA, it’s a stressful situation. I do recitals before NYSSMA so they can get nervous with an audience and feel what it's like to perform in a stressful environment, where others are observing you.”

Following a recital, Kaczorowska and her student will review a recording and the students often find they were better than they thought. This preps them for NYSSMA, a musical test, that she said 95 percent of her students have scored a perfect 100.

“Music is located in the same part of the brain as mathematics and linguistics,” Kaczorowska said. “All of my students are fantastic in math and languages, because when they practice, it is strengthening the same area.”


Dr. Joanna Violin and Viola Studio
277 Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station

Small Practice Gets Upgrade With ProHealth

Two dentists with established practices, Israel Brenner, DMD and Richard Rongo, DDS, hope to bring quality care to their hometown with the establishment of the first ProHEALTH dental practice in Suffolk County.     Photos/ProHEALTH Dental

Two dentists with established practices, Israel Brenner, DMD and Richard Rongo, DDS, hope to bring quality care to their hometown with the establishment of the first ProHEALTH dental practice in Suffolk County. Photos/ProHEALTH Dental

By Sophia Ricco

ProHEALTH Dental wants Huntington to smile brighter. The company has opened its first dental practice in Suffolk County in the heart of Huntington village.

The company’s expansion to Suffolk comes with a brand new state-of-the-art office that opened on Dec. 3.

Known in the medical field for its sprawling network of urgent care, patients care and specialized medicine facilities, ProHEALTH is branching into dentistry services. After putting together a model that integrates medical and dental services at their Lake Success location, ProHEALTH Dental felt it was time to bring this care further east.

“We believe that this is the model of the future,” ProHEALTH Dental CEO, Norton Travis said. “It’s time to break down the historical barrier between medicine and dentistry and have these important healthcare professionals work together to improve the oral and overall health of their patients.”

The business came to fruition through collaboration with Huntington native Dr. Richard Rongo, who practiced at Huntington Village Dental for 15 years. Rongo chose to merge his practice with ProHEALTH Dental to “even better serve his patients,” he said. He will be joined by another longtime local practitioner, Dr. Israel Brenner, and by various specialists.

“Although, we are part of a larger health system, we’re still a community dental practice. It’s really important that we give our patients the best care since we live and work here,” Trish Rongo, marketing liaison for ProHEALTH Dental, said.

ProHEALTH Dental’s “pediatric bay” features calming blue colors and fun artwork.

ProHEALTH Dental’s “pediatric bay” features calming blue colors and fun artwork.

Since many people feel nervous or uncomfortable visiting the dentist, ProHEALTH Dental tries to create an atmosphere that is friendly, relaxed and patient-focused.

“The doctors here are very gentle and our hygienists are very experienced. I can tell you from experience, once a person comes in and gets comfortable here, the anxiety goes away,” Trish Rongo said.

ProHEALTH Dental’s expansive office is able to provide a variety of services, from pediatric care to oral surgery to orthodontics. The goal is to allow patients to have all their dental care under one roof. All ages are welcomed; Dr. Rongo’s youngest patient is under a year old and his oldest patient is 99.

“We’ve been taking care of Huntington mouths for many generations,” Rongo said.

ProHEALTH Dental is able to bring these services with advanced equipment that can be found in multiple rooms throughout the large office. There is a special area for children, called “pediatric bay” that has calming blue colors and fun artwork on the walls. They utilize the most advanced sterilization system in the business and capture advanced digital imaging x-rays, that give a full view of the upper and lower jaws, teeth, temporomandibular (the joint connecting the jaw to the skull) joint, and sinuses.

“There is no question that the future of dentistry is to serve the needs of the entire family and access the latest technology which is very difficult to do as a solo practitioner,” Dr. Rongo said. “The partnership with ProHEALTH Dental allows us access to expand our office hours while still offering the personalized care our patients have come to expect from our staff. The merger with ProHEALTH Dental brings us one step closer to recognizing the importance of oral health as an integral part of a patient’s overall wellness.”

By taking their level of patient care, known as the “dental home” approach, and upgrading it to a deluxe office, the dentists can make patients comfortable while using state-of-the-art equipment. But ProHEALTH Dental is hoping that if patients focus on preventative care, they won’t be requiring further services.

“ProHEALTH Dental is trying to merge the gap between medical and dental to give better overall health,” Dr. Rongo said. “You can’t be healthy if your mouth is not healthy.”

ProHEALTH Dental occupies newly renovated space on Gerard Street in Huntington village.

ProHEALTH Dental occupies newly renovated space on Gerard Street in Huntington village.

The dental practitioner works with ProHEALTH doctors to encourage patients to keep up with their oral health and visit the dentist twice a year, an ADA recommendation.

“If you have gum disease, this could allow bacteria to enter your system and this can lead to stroke, Alzheimer’s, it’s been linked to major chronic diseases,” Rongo said. “We want to get ahead of that.”

ProHEALTH Dental promotes good dental health for all and offers a VIP program for patients without dental insurance. For $249 a year, an adult will be provided two oral examinations, cleanings and x-rays, plus 25% off further dental care and $500 off full orthodontic treatment. A child can receive the same benefits plus fluoride every six months for $199 a year.

“We understand that dentistry can be expensive… We’re trying to not make it cost prohibitive,” Rongo said. “You can have anxiety going to the dentist, then there’s the anxiety of the bill at the end. We want to get rid of that anxiety.”

ProHEALTH Dental
35 Gerard St, Huntington

Park Avenue Fine Suits Opens In Mall

Park Avenue Fine Suits opened just in time for the holiday season at Walt Whitman Shops.  Long Islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

Park Avenue Fine Suits opened just in time for the holiday season at Walt Whitman Shops. Long Islander News photos/Sophia Ricco

By Sophia Ricco

 The newest store at the Walt Whitman Shops, Park Ave. Fine Suits offers quality mens’ apparel in a welcoming atmosphere.

The store covers all the bases when it comes to style, stocking suits for men and boys, dress shirts, blazers, sweaters, pants, ties and bowties, shoes, socks, belts and even cufflinks to complete any look. The store was brought to Huntington by the Sayed Khalil and his family; it’s all hands on deck to run this store and their other shop in New Jersey.

The shop opened on Black Friday. The family had been looking to expand to Long Island where they had come from their home in Queens to shop at high end stores. They are now looking to become one of these stores.

Khalil said Park Ave. Fine Suits plans to update their stock each season to bring in new arrivals and stock more designer brands. Right now layered looks are in, and the store carries a variety of velvet pieces and cotton sweaters perfect for dressing suits up or down.

“What I like about our sweaters is that a lot of them are machine washable,” Khalil said. “You can have your cashmere, wool, stuff you wear every once and awhile but you want your wear and tear sweaters. What’s nice about these is they look amazing, you can do a casual look with them or do something more pristine with a tie and collared shirt.”

In addition to mens’ styles, Park Avenue Fine Suits carries a full line of children’s and boys’ sizes.

In addition to mens’ styles, Park Avenue Fine Suits carries a full line of children’s and boys’ sizes.

After working in retail for most of her life, Heba Khalil admits to an obsession with customer service. She likes to go the extra mile, wether it’s holding an item for a customer, gift wrapping and offering simple tailoring. The store’s intimate size gives Khalil an opportunity to engage with all who walk in.

“I think it’s really important that people have a sense of warmth when they walk in, that they feel welcomed and special,” she said.

Since opening, Park Ave. Fine Suits has seen a variety of clientele. Many are men, like doctors, lawyers and professionals who wear suits every day.

“People that wear suits, know they have to wear suits,” Khalil said. “Might as well have it be a nice fit and you feel comfortable buying it.”

With her expertise in retail and her own love for fashion, Khalil said she can be an ally to her clients and help them refresh their style.

“For me, as someone who loves clothes and communicating with people, the appeal is you can wear a lot of this stuff outside of the standard suit style that you would wear for work or church,” Khalil said.

She recommends someone who is looking to do a complete style overhaul, but doesn’t know where to start, pickes out one focus point of their outfit. Once they decide what they want to highlight, they can build their outfits, she said.

“Men who like ties, wear interesting ties,” Khalil said. “It’s just one place, one thing that you want to stand out.”

Dressing in a suit may seem like extra work, but once a man finds his perfect fit and style it is smooth sailing.

“If a guy likes one suit, he is likely to buy two or three more, believe it or not… They know the fit, they know the cut, they like the colors, it’s that simple,” Khalil said.

Simply swap out your dress shirt, tie and shoes to discover a new look.

“What’s nice about suits is it’s actually a really easy way to dress,” Khalil said.


Park Avenue Fine Suits
160 Walt Whitman Road, Huntington

Riding an ‘ah-sah-EE’ Wave To Success

SoBol’s Huntington Village location is the sixth franchise opened by Huntington resident Paul Gucciardo and his partners. The growing chain’s acai bowls are a popular health-conscious alternative to fast food.

SoBol’s Huntington Village location is the sixth franchise opened by Huntington resident Paul Gucciardo and his partners. The growing chain’s acai bowls are a popular health-conscious alternative to fast food.

By Sophia Ricco

It may be hard to pronounce, but açaí – it’s pronounced ah-sah-EE – sure is easy to devour when it comes from SoBol in Huntington Village.

This SoBol on New York Avenue, just south of Main Street, is the sixth opened by the Patchogue based company that has found itself ripe with success since first opening in Sayville in 2014. Specializing in health foods, SoBol has tapped into a growing base of health-conscious consumers. Since franchising, SoBol has 25 shops across the Northeast.

SoBol of Huntington was opened August 2017 and meets an apparent demand for healthy alternatives in the village.

“It’s a food that’s not a trend, but a lifestyle,” said Paul Gucciardo of Huntington, a partner/owner of the store and director of operations for SoBol. “It’s something that’s not just good for you, but tastes great as well.”

The most popular item on the menu is the açaí bowl, a clear favorite for its health benefits and sweet berry taste. A classic bowl will have a blend of frozen açaí berries, strawberries, bananas and a splash of soy milk, topped with granola, bananas, berries, shredded coconut, and drizzled honey. This is the recommended bowl for first-time customers, Gucciardo said.

SoBol’s signature açaí bowl has a blend of frozen açaí berries, strawberries, bananas and a splash of soy milk, topped with granola, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, shredded coconut, and drizzled honey.

SoBol’s signature açaí bowl has a blend of frozen açaí berries, strawberries, bananas and a splash of soy milk, topped with granola, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, shredded coconut, and drizzled honey.

SoBol’s menu is dairy-free, and can be customized to alleviate food allergy concerns.

“If you came in and had a banana allergy, not only would we not put bananas on top, we would make a special blend for you without bananas in it,” Gucciardo said. “If you have a nut allergy, we have nut-free granola and would make the bowl at a separate station.”

SoBol encourages açaí lovers to take their açaí bowls to the next level with specialty toppings like chia seeds and natural almond butter. Take it even further by ordering it on a Belgian Liege waffle. SoBol partnered with Waffatopia to provide hand rolled, vanilla cinnamon waffles made with non-GMO, high-purity pearl sugar to ensure bowls stay healthy.

“This is something new we introduced this year, to add a hot item to our menu,” Gucciardo said.

In October, SoBol launched the green bowl. It has a similar structure to an açaí bowl but instead blends spinach, kale, banana, mango and a splash of almond milk, then tops it with blueberry, strawberry, mango, shredded coconut, and honey. If you’re looking for unique flavor, try the pitaya bowl or drink your nutrients in a smoothie. Rest assured, every ingredient will be high quality.

“We’re very diligent in making sure it’s the right product 100 percent of the time,” Gucciardo said.

SoBol stays attentive to the service their employees provide, setting a high standard for customer relations and interactions.

Employees are expected to take pride in their work.

“When we open new stores, something we tell all the new staff is that customer service is a lost art and we need to focus on that,” Gucciardo said. “When I ask them to give me examples of places with great customer service, few are named. But when I ask about poor customer service, there’s a lot more examples.”

Not only should service be top-notch, but workers must be well-educated on their menus ingredients and health benefits. Açaí is antioxidant-packed, and nutrient-dense, improves cholesterol levels and boosts brain function.

“When a customer comes into a SoBol, they’re assuming that the employee is an authority on açaí,” Gucciardo said.

SoBol sees a broad demographic of customers. People of all ages benefit from eating well. Their location in the village puts them in a tough spot for parking, which is why they introduced curbside pick-up and deliver through Uber Eats.

The business owners emphasize giving back to the community that supports them. In Huntington they have partnered with the YMCA and St. Patrick’s Church on Main Street.

They support local entrepreneurs as well, sourcing local-made coffee, cold brew, kombucha and iced tea.

339 New York Avenue


Yoga Studio Taps The Power Of Music

Soul Kollective owner Natasha Poindexter bring live music into her Cold Spring Harbor yoga studio.  Long Islander News photo/Sophia Ricco

Soul Kollective owner Natasha Poindexter bring live music into her Cold Spring Harbor yoga studio. Long Islander News photo/Sophia Ricco

By Sophia Ricco

The Soul Kollective is on a mission to promote human connection and engagement, both externally and within, with the help of movement, music and reflection.

They have set up home base in Cold Spring Harbor at the former Sukha Yoga studio and hope to bring “new energy” to the town. Led by Natasha Poindexter, the yoga instructor took over two months ago from the previous owner. Poindexter aims to make the studio a place where creative people come together and find new connections.

“Our mission here is connect, trust, thrive,” Poindexter said. “It’s about making connections with others, trusting ourselves more so that we can trust others more and then through that we thrive.”

Poindexter, who grew up in Dix Hills, is excited to bring new styles and experiences to residents. One unique element of her studio is beginning or ending classes with live music. Instructors who are also musicians bring in “earthy” and acoustic instruments, encouraging the entire class to share their voices.

“After you do yoga, it’s great to just come back to the music,” Poindexter said. “A lot of people leave here still feeling that throughout the day. They even say they sing it that day and it makes them feel better.”

Participants feel comfortable enough to lift their voices because Pointdexter works to make it a safe space. A former school teacher, she found her students’ grades improved when she removed desks from her classroom and instead allowed them to free flow on couches. When a person is comfortable, it is easier for them to connect and thrive.

“As humans we’re so connected to our phones and technology, that we’re detached from connection,” Poindexter said. “Music is so powerful, it’s something that connects everyone. If you go to any part of the world, the first thing you notice is their music, their culture comes right through their music.”

Singing in public could leave a participant feeling vulnerable, but once they realize the energy of their voice, it is empowering, Poindexter said.

“Over the past year, I’ve realized the power of the voice. Since we’re not communicating as much, people really feel energy when they share their voice. Some people are finding they have a voice they didn’t even know.”

During class, Poindexter will play the tongue drum, a melodic and calming instrument. Crafted for her by a local artist, it produces a vibration known to heal the body. When singing, Poindexter incorporates mantras with positive affirmations.

“This space is a therapeutic place for yoga,” Poindexter said. “We’re different from your average yoga studio because we’re not just focused on the physical here.”

As a mental health counselor, Poindexter encourages people to take time for self-love. Many people spend their time giving themselves to others, but take little time to care for  themselves, she said.

“It’s the simple things, like inviting sacred practices into your life or just showing up on your mat and not doing anything but creating safe space and time for you,” Poindexter said. “By doing that, you’re providing yourself with love. Then you can share your love with others more freely.”

“Our society is so tense and New York is a challenging place to live,” Poindexter said. “You come here and you’re bombarded by so many things - media, home life, constantly running place to place. So when do you get time to just be?”

Soul Kollective will also function as a place artists can collaborate and thrive. Poindexter plans to host artist meetups in the future.

“This is a space people can come back to and connect with their artistic side,” Poindexter said. “You’ll be a more successful person in your daily life if you dive into your passions.”

Soul Kollective is open seven days a week and the small studio fits around 16 people, so registration the day before is crucial. In this intimate space, instructors are able to personalize participant’s practices.

“This space is so necessary because we need people to keep reminding us to live out our passions,” Poindexter said. “Society doesn’t tell you that, they tell you follow this, do this, get married and get house. But does that make you fully happy?”

Soul Kollective
75 Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor