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Enterprise: Kingston

City seeing boom in new businesses, old businesses doing new things

by Crispin Kott and Lynn Woods
November 24, 2010 02:38 PM | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Minya DeJohnette her acupuncture treatment room.
Flying in the face of a moribund economy and an always-say-die attitude which dogs the city, a cornucopia of new businesses have popped up in the last few months and existing businesses have undergone transformations. Like green shoots sticking up from a burned-out building, the entrepreneurial spirit has found a toe-hold in what many say is an impossible environment for trade. Writers Lynn Woods and Crispin Kott profiled some of the newbies just in time for the retail world’s highest holiday.

Gargoyles, 330 Wall St.

Hadassah Zuberi Ben-Dor opened her vintage shop and wholesale salvage business Gargoyles at the end of August, having relocated from Philadelphia to Kingston. Having sold her 10,000-square-foot building in Philly, she was looking for something more affordable when she read about Kingston in a New York Times article. She visited the city, liked it, and subsequently bought the three-store building in Uptown.

The fabulous selection of 1920s English luggage on display in the store windows is an invitation to enter, and though Ben-Dor does sell to walk-ins, her business is mainly wholesale. Department stores, restaurants, film production companies, even a Maryland golf club are among Ben-Dor’s customers, who span the globe. She not only locates highly desirable — and increasingly rare — antique items used in store displays and photo shoots, but also helps conceptualize the look, working closely with designers. “We’re creating an atmosphere,” she said.

Ben-Dor, who was trained as a graphic designer — she was born and raised in Jerusalem and moved to the States to attend art school — also blows up and prints early 20th century graphics from sheet music, magazines, and other sources onto posters and large pieces of fabric; framed, a poster sells for $150. Her shop is filled with objects of fascination, including ceramic phrenology heads, tall shiny trophies, old commercial signs, soup tureens, polo mallets and a set of leather-bound 1904 Encyclopedia Britannicas.

Having lived in Philadelphia for almost 40 years — she still owns a town house there —Ben-Dor said she’s delighted by Kingston’s vibrant arts community and great restaurants. She lives above her shop with her college-aged daughter and has already participated in local events, including the O-Positive Festival and the Rhinebeck Antiques Show. “I feel like I’ve always been here,” said Ben-Dor; visit www.gargoylesltd.com for more information.

Lynn Woods

Seven21 Media Center, 721 Broadway

Though it’s been in Kingston since 2006, the Seven21 Media Center continued what feels like a long tradition of innovation in the field of high-tech media. Majority owner Jeremy Ellenbogen said that in a field where everything changes overnight, the need to keep moving comes naturally.  

“Basically, we have about a dozen independent media companies that are here all working together and independently,” he said. “There’s a bunch of different things in the digital media space that we do that are not always apparent.” 

Ellenbogen noted a number of futuristic media endeavors coming out of Seven21, including video and audio projects, television commercials, iPad and other app development, digital point-of-purchase displays and digital out of home productions, including videos that play on screens mounted to the top of taxicabs.  

“We produce content for the digital space, and each company is like a little boutique,” said Ellenbogen. “We’re the hub for anything that’s happening in the multimedia industry. For example, what we’re seeing is a lot of production companies coming up here to shoot. We’ll provide support for an HBO shoot at a bed and breakfast in Rhinebeck. It’s too expensive for them to truck all their equipment up here, but we can provide everything.”  

Seven21’s collaborative network has grown over the past year, including 33Delivered, a “digital steward” for businesses looking to build or enhance their reach in the digital age. The media center is also expanding its space adding a third studio that will feature the area’s only green screen, three 40-by-40 walls of digitally-friendly soundstage.  

“Basically turn on the lights and you’re ready to go,” said Ellenbogen.  

While other businesses were struggling over the past few years to stay afloat, Seven21 thrived.  

“We’ve made it through the worst part of the economy and we’re really busy,” said Ellenbogen. “We’ve had our best year ever. Our business has been exploding, both Seven21 and our production company, Ellenbogen Creative Media. I think if people hear anybody being successful it’s a surprise, at least right now in Kingston. The reality is you’ve got to find the right industry, you’ve got to find the right mix of people and you’ve got to know how to promote yourself. And I think we’ve been successful at that.”  

Crispin Kott

Arte Artigianato Restauro, 27 West Strand

The just-opened office of painting conservator Marie Bruno at 27 West Strand in the Rondout brings another artsy business to the city. Bruno, who moved to Port Ewen four years from New York City and has operated her conservatory practice, Arte Artigianato Restauro, out of her home, noticed the empty storefront on the Strand while she was strolling on the new walkway, attracted by the historic setting. She said relocating to Kingston better connects her to the community and fulfills a long-held desire to also exhibit art in her work space. (Currently, the walls are hung with reliefs by Beacon-based artist Janine Lambers, a professional gilder and wood carver.)

Bruno’s clients include private art collectors with houses in Dutchess and Westchester counties. In a former life, she ran a gallery in New York’s SoHo in the 1980s and trained as a conservator while pursuing her art history studies on a scholarship in Italy, where she lived for two years. On her return to New York, Bruno ran a large studio on the Upper East Side, restoring works by the likes of Monet and Picasso for museums and galleries as well as working with well-known contemporary artists. Her specialty, however, is primarily 19th-century easel paintings — including a Sanford Gifford painting at the Fred Johnston House — and she feels right at home in the Hudson Valley, marveling to be experiencing directly the landscape that inspired so many early American artists. Call (845) 338-1688 or e-mail studio@mariegbruno.com for more information.

L.W.

Burgevin Florist, 245 Fair St.

Though their arrival came amid confusion and a bit of finagling for a name, Burgevin Florist opened for business at the corner of Main and Fair streets in Uptown Kingston on Oct. 1. The brainchild of Elizabeth Kelly and Brian Tymon, Burgevin Florist hopes to “bring this back to what it was, a community florist that was reasonable.” 

Kelly, a former nurse, recalled the difficulty she and Tymon have had in launching their business when the prior owner relocated to Gloversville.

“The fellow that was here before took the name and the number and is taking our business despite being 70 miles away,” she said. “The previous person left four cats here with littler on the floor in the cellar and a bag of food. My biggest fear was making sure I made it smell like flowers again.” 

But the long road to getting settled and taking ownership of the name — the shop originally opened as Toad Lily at the Burgevin — isn’t the only thing unique about the new business. While Kelly had no prior professional experience as a florist, she wasn’t remotely unfamiliar with taking care of flowers and plants and designing arrangements. Tymon bring 27 years of experience in the field to the business, with his work being featured at Four Seasons hotels, the Beverly Hills and Beverly Wilshire hotels and at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The pair has also endeavored to make Burgevin Florist an inviting place to visit.  

“It’s a very welcoming place,” said Kelly. “We have everything out on the floor. People can touch it, they can smell it. People can pick up a couple of flowers or we can design something for them.” 

Amidst the roses, cut amaryllis and kangaroo paw are a wide range of other interesting plants, including Venus flytraps.

“We had one in the window and it had a fly in it,” said Kelly. “We had one fly in here that had been driving us crazy.” 

For more information on Burgevin Florist, visit www.burgevins.com 

C.K.

Earthbound Community Acupuncture Clinic, 280 Wall St.

Earthbound Community Acupuncture Clinic is hard to find — it’s located behind an unmarked door on the third floor of 280 Wall Street, above Ulster Savings Bank — but it’s worth the effort, if you’re looking for hand-made herbal remedies or seeking treatment for pain in a calm, serene environment. The clinic, which is run by Minya DeJohnette, Hillary Thing and Cynthia Hewett, just moved from the Millard Building in Midtown and is on the verge of expanding. The space includes a raw herbal pharmacy, with shelves stocked with glass jars and bottles containing the herbal treatments, massage oils and other natural body products concocted by Thing, a talented herbalist.

There are two treatment rooms, one for private acupuncture treatments and the other offering more affordable communal treatments: six beds in the softly lit, sage-green room are separated by Japanese screens, with the fee ranging from a very reasonable $20 to $40 an hour. (DeJohnette noted that communal treatments are traditional in China.)

DeJohnette, who was trained at the Swedish Institute in New York City, and another acupuncturist provide the treatments. The clinic also plans to offer tai chi and qi gong classes in an adjacent space. DeJohnette said the trio is delighted to be in Uptown. “There’s lots of foot traffic and great shops and restaurants,” she said. “I love the feel of the area.” Visit www.isacupuncture.com for more information.

L.W.

All Smoked out BBQ, 146 Delaware Ave.

When you call your restaurant All Smoked Out BBQ, there’s no ambiguity in what’s on the menu.  

“Barbecue,” said owner Jeremy DuBois. “That’s what we are. And everything we cook is special.” 

DuBois opened All Smoked Out on Aug. 6, quickly making a name for himself in a field that’s all about doing it slowly and doing it right.  

“People really love the food,” said DuBois. “It’s been a hit. The pulled pork, brisket and ribs are some of the most popular items. And they say it’s the best cole slaw in the world; I don’t know, I haven’t been around the world tasting cole slaw.” 

Though DuBois is undeniably at home in BBQ, he’s actually a classically trained Italian chef. But he saw the enthusiasm for slow-cooked meat and all the trimmings and jumped on it.

“There’s been a barbecue renaissance lately,” he said. “And even in a tough economy, people try to come out to eat.”  

While some people might think of beer or other alcohol as being a natural fit for barbecue, DuBois said he’s happy keeping All Smoked Out a BYOB spot.  

“I don’t ever plan on opening a bar,” he said. “I’m here to serve good food, not alcohol. And I think that’s a huge savings in this economy.” 

In addition to a plentiful dinner menu, All Smoked Out also offers daily lunch specials. “For under eight bucks, you get your meal, a side and a drink,” said DuBois.  

DuBois is a sucker for the classics, though in the world of barbecue, no one seems to agree on exactly what that is.  

“It’s slow cooking, and we do everything wood-fired,” said DuBois. “It’s the old fashioned way. I call it New York style barbecue. We’re such a melting pot here. The Asians have been doing it 2000 years, and Texans have been doing it for 200. That’s why I have different influences.”  

All Smoked Out BBQ’s menu can be found at www.urbanspoon.com.

C.K. 

Brainstorm Computers & Technology, 321 Wall St.

Since 2004, Shawn Conklin had been running his computer support business out of his home in Rifton, but he had reached a threshold, wanting to offer more. So in August he moved his business to a storefront at 321 Wall Street and hired employee David Scism. His shop is now open more hours, able to serve customers even if Conklin is out on a job. Having an actual location, where customers can drop off their machines, also is a money saver, since the charge for bringing your computer in is $60 per hour, versus $80 for a house visit.

The shop is also equipped with three workstations, where in a pinch people can use a computer and access the Internet for only $5 per hour (the charge for using the computer with graphic-design capabilities is $10 per hour). Conklin, who said his customer base is slightly more weighted to businesses, said he also has a high countertop with a work station that enables customers to do their own repairs. “They can come and borrow tools or spare parts to test their equipment,” he said. The base charge is $10 per hour, and if the customer is unable to make the repair, he or she can simply hand the machine over to Conklin. The shop also is equipped with a laser engraver, which can print on almost any type of non-metallic surface. “We can take your laptop and engrave a design on it,” Conklim said.

Brainstorm has several reserved parking spots behind the building off Crown Street, a feature Conklin said was essential to locating in Uptown. So how’s business going? So far, he’s on track with the numbers he expected. Conklin was raised in Kingston but left for eight years to work a series of corporate jobs in Colorado. He’s happy keeping things small. “I didn’t like the red tape and politics of being in a corporation,” he said. The corporations “wanted to exercise such control it stifled creativity.” With Brainstorm, he has the freedom to do what he likes. “I’m not looking for a huge experience. I just want to keep myself and my employee and maybe one or two other people supplied with work.” Visit www.brainstormkingston.com for more information.

L.W.

Blue-Byrd’s Haberdashery & Music, 320 Wall St.

Any day now, Blue-Byrd’s will complete its move from 297 Wall St. to a new location across the street, in the former Fitness Unlimited space. Other than that, there won’t be any change, except that the store will be expanding on its “Toucan collection” of hats for women, according to owners John Blue and Maureen Byrd.

Blue-Byrd’s has earned a following among musicians especially for its fine selection of pork pies, fedoras, stingy brims, leather caps, panama hats and other stylish gear for the noggin, with prices ranging from $25 to $190. Walking sticks, harmonicas, bowties, tie tacks, suspenders, and performer’s shirts complete the idiosyncratic look. Blue and Byrd also steam, clean and reblock hats, so if yours is looking shabby, bring it in for a rejuvenation. Other items for sale include gloves and scarves.

Blue, who works full-time for the state — Byrd, who is his wife, presides over the shop during the week — is also a blues expert, of course. The store sells blues CDs, and if you can’t find what you want on the shelves, he can make order from an encyclopedic catalog of nearly 1,500 blues artists and collections. Blue-Byrd’s first opened in 1992 in the Rondout, moving to Uptown five years ago. Check out the website, www.blue-byrds.com, or call 339-4560 for an update on the opening date of its new digs.

L.W.

Jordan’s at Maxwell’s, 31 N. Front St.

On Nov. 1, it became official: Maxwell’s Pizza is now Jordan’s at Maxwell’s. Opened by the previous restaurant’s chef, the new business will continue doing what it’s always done, but will also introduce what Jordan Schor called “New American Cuisine.”

“I don’t want to put pizza on the backburner and say it’s the least we do, but I do roast duck, veal and pork chops, a lot of vegetarian stuff. I make all my own bread, hamburger rolls, my own pastas and raviolis. I’m a restaurant that serves pizza, and now that we’ve got a full liquor license we’re trying to embrace being more.”

Part of the new approach also includes the reintroduction of the Hudson Valley Chef Series, a monthly supper club and cooking school Schor has filmed alongside Ric Orlando of New World Home Cooking and Jessica Winchell of the Global Palate. The series has been such a success both locally and on YouTube that Schor said a pitch pilot to present to networks is in the mix.

The monthly event takes place on Sundays, with the next installment at Jordan’s at Maxwell’s slated for Dec. 12. Schor said he promotes the series through word of mouth and on social networking sites like Facebook and once he’s got five or six people on board, he sets a date. The entry fee ranges between $55-90 per person depending upon the guest and what’s being prepared.  

“I’m trying to get Ming Tsai to do one, but now that he’s been doing The Next Iron Chef, his people called and said that he’s out of time,” Schor said.  

Where the series goes remains to be seen, but the concept is clear.  

“We try to travel around the Hudson Valley and hit local celebrity chefs who are doing local sustainable farm to table food in their certain craft,” said Schor, adding that the idea could certainly be extended beyond any borders. “You can do that anywhere. There’s probably enough material in the upper northeast that could keep me filming for a year, but I’d like to create the concept, do some of the shows and then have someone else do it as well.”

Jordan’s at Maxwell’s is open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays for food, with the bar serving late night snacks until midnight. Fridays and Saturdays, the kitchen stays open an hour later, and the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

C.K.

Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats, 307 Wall St.

When Josh Applestone opened this old-fashioned butcher shop at 307 Wall Street in 2004, his aim was to return to his roots (his grandfather was a butcher in Brooklyn) and resurrect a lost institution, specializing in only the best of meats — locally raised, grass-fed and grain-finished beef, milk-fed veal, and chickens nourished on organic grain.

Since then, the store has been making waves far beyond the streets of Kingston. It offers intensive workshops, which have been attended by professional foodies and one famous writer (Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia, who dramatically described the cleaving sessions in her most recent memoir), and apprenticeships, which have drawn young people from coast to coast, eager to learn this lost art.

Applestone has become the nation’s expert on butchery: he showed Martha Stewart how to break down a pig on her TV show last spring, and he’s due to appear on the Food Network’s Iron Chef as a judge on Dec. 12. (Fleisher’s will also supply the program with the mystery ingredient, which contestants must use to cook up various recipes on the spot.) The shop has won all kinds of kudos from the national food press.

Fleisher’s also has a busy wholesale business. It makes a dozen deliveries a week of whole animals to various restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Given all this activity, it’s not surprising to hear the shop will soon be expanding. Josh and his wife, Jessica, have purchased the former Nekos Luncheonette, just a few doors down, and this winter they will be working with an architect to redesign the space. They plan to dedicate the upstairs floor to a teaching area for the apprentices, while downstairs will be devoted to retail, possibly a restaurant or café. Stay tuned — www.fleishers.com.

L.W.



The Painted Design, 37 N. Front St.

Alexandra Mallen’s business hasn’t exactly been teeming with foot traffic. With a second floor studio above a hobby shop at 37 N. Front Street, she does the majority of her business online and at art fairs like an upcoming Christmas fair sponsored by the Manhattan-based Isabel O’Neal Studio, where Mallen actually trained. But it’s not like she’d mind you dropping in.  

“It would be nice, but I don’t usually get that kind of traffic,” she said. Instead, customers ordinarily purchase her design and faux painting pieces online at her website, www.thepaintdesign.com, where designs like a tray with a Colonial-style scene with horses and a dog can be seen. In addition to the image itself, which can feature styles from around the world, Mallen also paints borders and other decorative motifs.  

“They’re called decorative finishes,” she said. “They’re faux finishes, like faux tortoise shell, faux marble, and then there’s Euro lacquer, which is a layering of different finishes and then you paint a design on it. It’s country faux bois, fake wood finish, and you paint a design on it. It’s just basically a beautiful painted finish. The imagination just roams wild and you can do pretty much anything. You take an ugly piece of furniture and make it beautiful.” 

Though Mallen said she sometimes takes on custom work from customers bringing in a piece of furniture or tray they’d like, but she usually works from pieces of furniture she finds in flea markets, yard sales and antique shops.  The majority of the items for sale on Mallen’s website are trays, though there are also a number of cachepots, including one with a tortoiseshell finish that matches a pair or trays, one large and one small.

“They’re unique gifts,” said Mallen. “If somebody wanted a tray, they could go into a store and it would be lightweight. I don’t do them in one sitting, and there’s many layers of paint and many layers of varnish on them. And they come from my imagination.” 

C.K.
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