Solevo Kitchen & Social: Making Family's Dream a Reality in Spa City
Ronnie and Gi Solevo (center) and their team for Solevo Kitchen and Social’s grand opening. Photos provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Sept. 21 Solevo Kitchen and Social celebrated their official opening at the new authentic, old- school Italian restaurant located at 55 Phila St.The Solevo Kitchen and Social space is part of the Caffe Lena renovation and newly constructed Spencer Condominiums built by Bonacio Construction. The restaurant features an open kitchen, 14-seat bar and dining room equipped to seat roughly 50 guests.
Brother and sister Ronald and Giovannina Solevo, Ronnie and Gi for short, are fourth generation Italian-American restaurateurs. Originally from Connecticut, the two have operated restaurants in New Haven, Conn. and New York City. Both Ronnie and Gi were raised in the restaurant kitchens of their parents and grandparents. Ronnie Solevo, chef, said this past summer was his thirty-third summer in Saratoga.
“The dream for our whole family, our grandparents and our parents, was always to have a restaurant in Saratoga. We think that our Italian food fits so well here... Then we saw this opportunity popped up and
we jumped on it. We love this location, we love being on Phila Street downtown,” Solevo said.
According to Solevo, between his grandparents and their siblings there were a dozen restaurants owned by his family in the New Haven, Conn. area.
“This business is in us, having grown up in it. This is the combination of just so much hard work not only for us, but generations before us, to be here,” Solevo said.
Solevo Kitchen and Social is focused on scratch cooking, using the abundance of local and organic ingredients available in upstate New York. All of the pasta is made in-house and the market driven menu will change often to reflect the seasons. The menu will pay homage to the recipes passed down through the Solevo family’s generations of Southern Italian chefs and restaurant owners. Solevo calls them “peasant style” dishes and adds that there will be some Italian-American dishes as well.
Aside from the scratch cooking, both Ronnie and Gi are proud to admit that everything from the interior design to the graphic design of the menus and website, they do themselves as well. The spot’s atmosphere reflects the old-school Italian American social clubs of decades past giving off an 1940’s Art Deco vibe.
“Growing up our parents were always part of local Italian- American social clubs, so we wanted to create that here but not being a place where you have to pay for membership,” Solevo said.
“We’re really happy and proud of what we do, and more that anything else we’re really happy and proud to be doing it in Saratoga,” he added.
Saratoga Hospital Plans to Expands in Queensbury
QUEENSBURY — At a Sept. 18 planning board meeting Columbia Development presented preliminary plans, on behalf of Saratoga Hospital, for medical offices to the Queensbury Planning Board. However, it was noted that Columbia Development and the Queensbury planning board are still only in the discussion stages of this project.
Saratoga Hospital Medical Group, the multi-specialty group practice, has seen patient growth north of the hospital’s main campus. This led to the August 2017 acquisition announcement by Saratoga Hospital of the former Carl R’s Mexican restaurant located at 124 Main St. in Queensbury.
“When the property became available, we decided the convenient location at exit 18 made this an excellent site to explore how we can best provide the medical specialty programs and services to meet the expanding need,” Angelo Calbone, President and CEO of Saratoga Hospital said in the acquisition announcement.
Columbia Development is proposing a 17,000 square-foot medical office building at the intersection of Main Street and Big Boom Road. The site area is 1.16 acres and may include .15 acres to be purchased from the town of Queensbury. Other entities noted in the plan include HCP Architects and BBL Medical Facilities, a contractor, both based out of Albany.
“The board looked at it, they didn’t see anything that was outstanding site plan wise; like the arrangement of the building, the lot, things like that...But other than that it’s really in a discussion stage, ”Laura Moore said,the Land Use Planner for the Town of Queensbury. She said that this is one opportunity the applicant has to go before the board to discuss, conceptually, what they propose for the lot.
Columbia Development would own the property and lease the offices to physicians. While it is not known what kind of physicians would be here, according to Moore, Columbia Development said they will probably not come before the planning board again until a majority of the leases are filled.
See You in a Century: Wilton’s Bicentennial Continues with Time Capsule Burial
Photos by SuperSource Media LLC.
WILTON — On Sept. 20 the Town of Wilton held the bicentennial ribbon cutting and time capsule burial at Wilton Town Hall located at 22 Traver Rd. In attendance were town board members, Todd Shimkus of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Elise Stefanik, Sen. Kathy Marchione and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner.
Some items buried in the time capsule included memorabilia celebrating the event, maps of both the old and new Gavin Park, this year’s Historic Homes Tour brochure, a Saratoga TODAY commemorative magazine, a Parkfest brochure and a documentary titled “Wilton 200” produced by Tim Welch, among many others. Also placed in the time capsule was the obituary of Larry Gordon. Larry Gordon died on Sept. 11, 2018 and was part of the bicentennial committee. Gordon developed the bicentennial postage envelope, which was also placed in the time capsule.
“2018 has been a very special year for the town; it’s been a year of remembrance and celebration as we take pride in its 200th birthday. The bicentennial committee has hosted a series of special events designed to encourage our residents to reflect and remember our history,” Supervisor Art Johnson said in a speech before the ribbon cutting.
He later said “typically the Chamber is doing the ribbon cuttings for the opening of a business but today is a little bit different. The ribbon cutting will be putting a closure to a chapter of our town’s history.”
Impact of Agriculture and Agribusiness Tops $500M Annually in Saratoga County
BALLSTON SPA — On Sept. 19 the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership economic development agency, released the first-ever Saratoga County Agricultural Index, which identifies the agriculture sector as a critical component of the county’s economy, generating more than $500 million in annual economic impact. That figure includes nearly $300 million produced by equine interests, including Saratoga Race Course, and more than $200 million in agricultural products, support services and commodities sold.
At the event that took place at Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa, business leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders gathered for the unveiling of the inaugural index.
“The Saratoga County Agricultural Index paints a vivid picture of the vital role agriculture and agribusiness play in creating a vibrant Saratoga County economy,” said Marty Vanags, President of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.
“We are committed to lending our support to sustain and grow thisimportantsectorbyproviding business and technical resources, enabling access to markets and capital, and promoting collaboration through incentives and marketing campaigns aligned withtheneedsofthefarming community,” he said.
According to the Agricultural Index, Saratoga County ranks third among Capital Region counties in the number of farms, at 583; in annual agricultural output, at $83 million; in annual value of agriculture products and support services, at $125 million;andin market value of agricultural land and buildings, at $378 million. Dairy products represent the top- selling agricultural commodities in Saratoga County, with the $772,000per-farm value of milk produced at 23 dairy farms ranked first in the Capital Region and sixth in New York State. Total direct farm wages in Saratoga County were $27 million in 2017.
Meanwhile, the equine industry is a significant player in the county’s agribusiness sector, according to the index. Saratoga Race Course accounts for 2,600 on-site jobs, generates $101 million in earnings and $237 million in sales. In addition, 64 private horse farms boast a total market value of $59 million.
“The agricultural industry has been an important part of Saratoga County’s economy for many years, and its positive impact is just as vital today,” said Edward Kinowski, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “We are committed to lending our support to ensure our agriculture and agribusiness sector continues to grow and prosper in the years ahead.”
The Saratoga County Agricultural Index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that showed 71 percent of industry leaders and stakeholders described themselves as optimistic about the future of agriculture in Saratoga County. In addition, 94 percent strongly agreed or agreed that providing new incentives or creating mechanisms to support agricultural collaboration were needed, and 70 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the need for new branding concepts or marketing campaigns to sustain agricultural growth.
A panel discussion featuring industry leaders and community stakeholders followed the presentation of the index. Panelists included Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Bill Peck of Welcome Stock Farm and Supervisor, Town of Northumberland; Rachel (Czub) McDermott of Whole Feeds of the Hudson Valley and Z-Hub in Moreau; and Jennifer Koval of Koval Brothers Dairy of Stillwater
Skidmore Alum Brews Teas and Booze
Left to right: Maria Littlefield and Jennie Ripps. Photos provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A Skidmore alum has taken a new twist on spirits and brought it to the national stage. Maria Littlefield, partner and president of Owl’s Brew graduated from Skidmore College in 2009 and by 2013 she and partner Jennie Ripps had already launched their own mixer called Owl’s Brew with the motto “drink wise.” Littlefield has even made it on to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
Littlefield and Ripps began this venture simply by brewing teas and spirits and hosting “adult tea parties” for co-workers. Soon enough the two were being asked to partner with different liquor brands and serve at events like the Sundance Film Festival and New York Fashion week, “which sounds super glamorous except we were fresh brewing tea in buckets for a thousand people,” Littlefield said jokingly.
“Skidmore and Saratoga are obviously near and dear to my heart. I spent a lot of time here, and my friends and I still come up every summer,” Littlefield said. Littlefield is from Connecticut and nowresidesinNewYorkCity.Her grandmother is also a Skidmore alum, “So my whole family really loves Saratoga,”she added.
During her senior year in the Spa City, Littlefield interned at Fingerpaint and even worked on sponsorships for the Polo field.
“Because I lived here I feel like all of the places are really special to me. I have to go to Putnam (Market) every time I come,” Littlefield said.
Owl’s Brew Radler, a beer mixed with tea and botanicals, launched in 2015. Littlefield said since spirit distribution is much more local, the strategy for the Radler was to focus on places both Ripps and Littlefield had a connection with, calling Saratoga a “hoot spot.” Every Thursday, Owl’s Brew is served at trivia night at the Saratoga Winery, and on Sept. 20 at a back-to-school Dress and Sip at Violet’s of Saratoga. Owl’s Brew was also a vendor at the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival that took place on Sept. 8, attended Taste of Saratoga and held a few events with the Brentwood Hotel.
The wise owl gave way to the concept of Owl’s Brew mixer and the Owl’s Brew Radler, “having flavor that gives you function,” Littlefield calls it.
“That’s giving your body back something. Everyone wants to feel good about drinking,” she added.
Ingredients in both Owl’s Brew products are clean and real, brewing the teas themselves in what Littlefield can only describe as huge tea bags.
“We realized there was this whole world of mixing botanicals with spirits made these delicious really unique cocktails that instead of almost covering up a spirit, which a lot of us try to do,it almost enhances the flavor of a spirit but smooths it out,” Littlefield said.
Owl’s Brew can be found at Market 32, Minogues Beverage, Bailey’s Café and more.
6th Annual Pink Bows on Broadway
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The ‘angel army’ of Floyd Warriors is getting ready for breast cancer awareness month this October with the 6th annual month- long celebration of Pink Bows on Broadway. Floyd Warriors founder, Lisa Morahan is a cancer survivor herself and started ‘Pink Bows on Broadway’ as a way to not only celebrate survivors and pay tribute to those that have succumbed to the illness, but also celebrate the caregivers, nurses and physicians who are also affected by the disease.
Morahan was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer in 2009, just eight weeks after her mother passed away because of the same illness. At the time of her diagnosis Morahan had a one- and-half-year-old son.
“I asked my surgeon; he was giving me some resources, support groups and people I could talk to... I was at a point of really being on the front lines. I felt like I was going into war and I had to prepare myself and I just had to focus on what was most needed at the moment,” she said.
“I’m the youngest of six, I had part of my family and I had a lot of friends, so a lot of people were coming forward wanting to help but it was a full time job trying to figure out who could do what when and trying to coordinate things,” she added.
And so began the vision for Floyd Warriors; the theme was to provide real help in the home of people undergoing cancer treatment. Floyd Warrior’s slogan is “helping families cope with cancer, one household at a time,”but the motto is“dinner is done, dishes are clean and the kids are okay.”
"Cancer certainly crushes you, makes you surrender to yourself and to a higher power, then it gives you the ability to rebuild yourself," Morahan said.
According to Morahan much of the angel army that makes up Floyd Warriors are individuals that have undergone cancer treatment as well. The volunteers will help by either connecting the family to a business that can fulfill the service they need, and funding it, or fulfilling the task themselves, whether it is making dinner, yard work or housekeeping.
While pink bows line Broadway during the month of October, names of individuals and businesses will be attached on a personalized tribute card; the donor can specify who the tribute honors. The cost for an individual sponsorship is $50 while the cost for a business sponsorship is $250. All proceeds from the campaign
will benefit floydwarriors.com, a non-profit organization. On Oct. 1 beginning at 9 a.m. Morahan and the angel army will begin putting pink satin bows on Broadway beginning at City Hall.
Big Plans for B'Spa
BALLSTON SPA — Between the news of a new Hannaford and a groundbreaking for a public safety building in the works, Ballston Spa has a lot going on.
As previously reported, a public safety facility will be located adjacent to the Sheriff’s Department/County Correctional Facility at 6010 County Farm Road in Ballston Spa. Groundbreaking is expected within the next two to three weeks according to County Administrator Spencer Helwig. Completion will be sometime in 2020. The new public safety building that will house the 911 dispatcher, public health, emergency services, probation department, public health, and the sheriff’s administrative staff, will be approximately 62,000 square-feet.
The original projected cost of the building was initially $32 million but according to Helwig based on the bids, the contracts the town will be awarded next month and the money that’s already been spent the total project is now at $28,850,000. On Sept. 18 a $24 million bond was approved by the board of supervisors. It is a 15-year bond. The remainder, which is roughly $4 million, will be paid in cash according to Helwig.
The idea to build a new public safety building was conceived 10 years ago and the project progressed through preliminary engineering but was eventually shelved due to growing financial obligations. At that time it was to maintain the County’s nursing home, Maplewood Manor, which has since been sold.
“They’re going to start doing site work this week as soon as contractors start getting the equipment in and try to get as much of, the initial preparation for the building construction in place... They’ll be doing some work depending on how far they get before it gets too cold with the snow. That will dictate the other work that can be done through the winter,” Helwig added.
As for the Hannaford, it is expected to be 38,000-square- feet, and bring between 100 and 110 full- and part-time jobs. Sophia Morruso, Senior Planner for the Town of Ballston said “We have them returning in September so this is the third meeting that we’ll have with regards to the Hannaford site plan review. I think that the planning board has conducted the majority of the basic site plan, layout and design elements review. Where they’re really at, at this point, is navigating the engineering of the project and coordinating other agency approvals.” The next planning board meeting will take place on Sept. 26.
“They’re definitely kind of headed toward the later part of their review process but they’re returning next week, and we anticipate continuing to review some of the details of the plan and also to start working through the engineering comments as well,” Morruso added.
Those traveling on Route 50 in Ballston Spa may notice some roadwork near the planned Hannaford. However according to Morruso, the Hannaford site plan application was for retail use, but it is part of an entire PUDD (planned unit development district), owned by Frank Rossi Sr., that establishes zoning for a larger contiguous area. Part of the plan and part of the PUDD requires the construction of a loop road so that it will immediately be serving Hannaford if and when they get approved.
“They’ve recently done paving to it and are in the process of trying to dedicate the road to the town. We would certainly need the road to be functional in order for the site plan to be developed but in a way it’s a bit independent of that particular tenant; its really more part of that development plan for that whole area,” Marruso said.
Saratoga Sparkling Co. Expands with New Tasting Room
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Sparkling Co. and Galway Rock, two local wine brands with the same owners, spouses Kate and Ryan Taylor, will be opening a tasting room in Ballston Lake this fall. Along with this opening, will be the reveal of a third wine line called Robinia Hill that was made with business partners in Skaneateles with grapes from there.
“We've kind of grown too big for our britches. So we're expanding on a place that can accommodate the winery and a tasting room, a larger vineyard and all that goes with it,” Kate Taylor said. Their first bottled wine was filled in 2014, four years ago.
According to Taylor, the two are closing on the property in the next few days, at the time of our interview. Taylor explains that the expansion is all part of a plan, a year in the making. The two received a microenterprise grant from the town of Ballston, while the land purchased for the vineyard will be put into the American Farmland Trust that ensures the land will always remain farmland.
“It’s going to get a face-lift (the buildings) and then hoping to open sometime this fall. We're going to do a soft opening in the middle of October and then we'll be open for real sometime in November,” Taylor said.
“It's actually two buildings, we're kind of going to be open and letting people experience what’s going on with the construction and harvest, so we'll have the tasting room partially open and once its completed we'll do a big grand opening,” she added.
Galway Rock was the first of the soon-to-be three wine labels, first bottled in 2014. It has a total of four wines, two reds and two whites while Saratoga Sparkling Co., which was added to the mix about year later, has a sparkling white and a sparkling rosé. Robinia Hill will be targeted for restaurants but will also be available for sale at the tasting room.
The tasting room, which will be located at 998 Saratoga Rd., will also have 68 acres of land for a vineyard. Taylor says they will start off with five acres of grapes, which in turn, will produce between 30 to 40 tons of grapes. Most of these grapes will be used for the Saratoga Sparkling Co. brand. A courtyard will look over the vineyard and provide outdoor seating for tastings and small plates.
“We started the whole thing at my parents house, a small winery, a small vineyard kind of like a test to see which grapes grow in the area in Galway, so if it grows here it should grow in Ballston Lake, its a little bit warmer there,” Taylor said.
Once the tasting room is open, guests will be able to witness the wine-making process as well as outdoor seating in a courtyard that looks over the vineyard.
Wilton Closes Bicentennial Year with Fall and Winter Events
WILTON — The Town of Wilton has been celebrating their Bicentennial throughout 2018. As the last quarter of the year draws near, the Bicentennial Committee has announced a final list of events that will take place in September and December of this year.
“It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the last months of Wilton’s Bicentennial Year. Our committee has been meeting for two and a half years planning this year’s Bicentennial Celebration. September will include a cluster of three events followed by an end of year dinner celebration in December,” Sue Lant, Bicentennial Committee Chairperson, said.
“We’ve enjoyed watching our community join in this year of celebration and remembrance of our rich history,” Lant added.
The list of remaining bicentennial events includes the Wilton Historic Sites Home Tour taking place on Sept. 16 beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. The Historic Site Homes Tour will offer information on 16 historic Wilton homes and sites, many of which are open tothepublic.Alsotakingplace in September is the bicentennial ribbon cutting and time capsule burial on Sept. 20 beginning at 3 p.m. and ending at 4 p.m.
On Sept. 23 Taste of Wilton will take place at Gavin Park. Taste of Wilton is a farm to chef event that will begin at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m.
“This event is near to my heart. It’s about showcasing fresh produce and restaurants but mostly about embracing our local farms and in turn helping to feed our food challenged neighbors. It’s a complete circle of supporting each other,” Susan Garret said. Garret is the Taste of Wilton Chairperson.
The event will feature a pairing of area restaurants and farms that will offer tastings ranging from$1 to $6 with proceeds benefitting those in need through the Wilton Food Pantry. A selection of wineries and distilleries will also be present.
The Wilton Bicentennial Holiday Community Dinner will take place at the Wilton- Saratoga Elks Club at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29. Area residents are also invited to take part in the Bicentennial Challenge and Kids’ Quest Activity contests by going to www.wiltonbicentennial.com. Prizes include Wilton Bicentennial 2018 collectable patches which will be awarded upon completion of the contest activities.
“This Bicentennial Year has been filled with many opportunities forourresidentstounitewithpride as we looked back upon the past 200 years that have brought us to where we are today. We are grateful to all of our many sponsors whose contributions have made this year possible,” Town Supervisor Art Johnson commented.
Major sponsors of the Wilton Bicentennial include Adirondack Trust Company, Scotty’s Exit 16/ The Parillo and Nigro Family, D.A. Collins Construction Co. Inc., Richbell Capital, Saratoga National Bank, MJ Engineering, Kodiak Construction, Bonded Concrete, Inc., Stone Bridge Iron and Steel Inc., McGregor Links Country Club, Bow Tie Cinemas, the Wilton Mall and Fine Affairs. Commemorative merchandise including hats, mugs, patches, frisbees, and pins are available for purchase at Wilton Town Hall.
For more information on the Town of Wilton’s Bicentennial Celebration call 518-587- 1939, ext. 239 or visit www. wiltonbicentennial.com.
Controversy in B'Spa: Village of Ballston Treasurer Resigns
Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON — “Tonight the mayor announced at our special meeting of the Village Board of Trustees that, yesterday, the Village Treasurer resigned effective immediately,” read a Facebook status posted by Village of Ballston Spa Trustee Noah Shaw, on Sept. 6. It was later confirmed in a village board meeting on Sept. 10 by Mayor John Romano.
The Ballston Spa Treasurer was Christopher Hickey, who was also the Budget Officer. He has resigned from both positions. The village’s deputy treasurer, internal control officer, personnel officer, and compliance officer, Darryl Purinton resigned the next day from all of those titles except internal controls officer. It was noted in the board meeting that Purinton's salary for internal controls officer is $68,000.
The status posted by Shaw also says things like “next steps will be essential to resetting the Village’s financial systems and controls, and to bring us back into good order,” and “we will be working to fix the array of issues that have been allowed to fester for far too long in the Village government’s systems, controls and financial accounting.”
According to Shaw, “two prior audits from the office of the state Comptroller have identified issues with respect to the village's financial systems and controls.”
“Since I was elected last year, I have also identified at public meetings and otherwise various items and practices that I believe are deficient,” he added. However, Shaw says that he did not have direct discussion with Hickey concerning reasons why he resigned.
Ballston Spa resident Liz Kormos who says she attends town and village meetings religiously said, “there was never in previous years, when there was budgeting, there was never any real discussion in public about the numbers."
“You know other places I go that periodically talk about the performance, what the issues are, — this village they go through a list of expenditures and approve them. That is the gist before these new trustees got elected, that’s all they did,” Kormos said referring to new trustees, Noah Shaw and Shawn Raymond.
According to Kormos the lack of budgeting information provided to the public has been an issue for some time now. “Now it’s coming to light and we have the opportunity to fix it and make it better,” she added.
In the board meeting that took place on Sept. 10, hiring an interim accounting firm until a new full-time treasurer is found was discussed.
“We have solicited bids from regional accounting firms with municipal expertise to help fulfill the functions of the treasurer while we search for a full-time treasurer. I also hope that firm will make certain recommendations regarding how we can improve our system and controls,” Shaw said.
“I think the mayor and I are aligned with respect to commencing the hiring process for the treasurer ASAP. Where we diverged at the meeting last night (Sept. 10) was with respect to the time frame for convening an informal citizens' advisory group. I would like to get that convened soon; the mayor preferred to delay on the resolution I introduced, however, the board voted to move forward at the next meeting,” Shaw said.
The next meeting will take place on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at Village Hall located at 66 Front St.
"We're invested in this community. We want to stay here and we want to make good use of the tax dollars... We've got to get this place on sound financial footing to be able to handle those things,” Kormos added.