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Scott LoBaido immortalizes Nicotras’ beloved pup Lorenzo

Staten Island, N.Y. --  If you're lucky enough to own a pet, you know that the memories you make are priceless. You know that the unconditional love of a furry friend makes your bad days manageable and your good days even better. And, sadly, you also know the enormous heartbreak that comes with losing that pet and the resulting void in your heart.

This past August, Lois and Richard Nicotra, owners of the Hilton Garden Inn, said their goodbyes to their tiny Maltese, Lorenzo.

Lorenzo the pup had a public presence on the Island and a namesake restaurant located in the Nicotras' hotel. When the news of his passing spread, the couple were overwhelmed by the kind words and actions from the comforting Staten Island community.

"We know that some people might say, 'Well, he's just a dog,' but to us, Lorenzo was a companion for nearly two decades of our life - and as our lives changed and we grew businesses or lost loved ones, Lorenzo was a constant, and this past year was really a long goodbye for Lois and me," shared Richard Nicotra.

After sweet Lorenzo passed in late August, Richard and Lois took a vacation to clear their minds of the devastating event. A couple of days later, Staten Island artist Scott LoBaido contacted the Nicotra Group Chief of Staff, Kristine Garlisi, and shared that he had also once lost a beloved pet named Nunzio and knew the emotional pain it imposed on a family.

LoBaido then asked Garlisi for images of Lorenzo so he could give the Nicotras a special memory to cherish. Garlisi agreed and sent him a few photos, including a candid shot she had snapped a few years ago as Lorenzo eagerly waited among some coworkers for his little taste of cake at one of the Nicotra Group's office birthday parties.
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Nicotras To Receive Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Hoteliers and philanthropists Richard and Lois Nicotra will be awarded the annual Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award from Borough President James Oddo during a Nov. 16 ceremony in Borough Hall.

“Lois and I love Staten Island, and we are so proud of our borough. To know that our borough is proud of us is a recognition we treasure,” Nicotra said. “We are deeply grateful to Borough President Oddo for selecting us for the Maniscalco Award.”

“We have our names on our nine buildings on South Avenue, and we endeavor to do good things throughout the borough with the profits from our Commons Cafe, but to have our names listed permanently at Borough Hall is significant. This means our borough believes in us — and that’s beautiful, because we have always believed in Staten Island,” he said.

The Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award, established in 1986, was named in honor of Staten Island’s ninth borough president and celebrates the civic-mindedness and tireless energy of an individual or organization that helps make Staten Island a better place.

“Recently, Rich and Lois were voted the No. 1 most influential Staten Islanders. And while it is true that their economic efforts have positively impacted Staten Island, their value and importance is best measured by the positive influence they have had over the lives of so many individuals,” Oddo said. “When you measure them in such a manner, you can truly see how they embody the concept that our lives should be about something bigger than ourselves.”

“The presence of Rich and Lois Nicotra would be of enormous benefit to any community in America — and we are well and truly blessed that community, by the grace of God, turned out to be Staten Island,” the borough president continued. “Rich and Lois, we applaud you, we thank you, and we are honored to bestow upon you the Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award.”

PARTNERS IN LIFE, BUSINESS AND THE COMMUNITY

Partners in both life and business, Lois and Richard Nicotra met as undergraduates at St. John’s University, Grymes Hill, before opening their first Everything Yogurt store in Manhattan in 1976. The franchise eventually expanded to 250 stores internationally before they sold it in 2003.

They currently own and manage more than 1 million square feet of commercial space and acres of manicured grounds, making them Staten Island’s largest private real estate developers. Nicotra Group properties include a Hilton Garden Inn, a Hampton Inn & Suites, Nicotra’s Ballroom, Above Weddings & Rooftop, several restaurants, performance spaces and office buildings — all located in a 415- acre natural woodland preserve in their Corporate Park of Staten Island, off South Avenue in Bloomfield.

In 2011, the Nicotras established the Commons Cafe, a quick-service eatery that donates 100 percent of its profits to charity. The café has awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to Staten Island nonprofits and scholarships for Nicotra employees’ children.

The philanthropic couple has also hosted benefits for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan, raising over $600,000 for those in need. For 20 years, the Nicotras have hosted the Daughters of St. Paul Christmas concerts at which the nuns perform, raising more than $2 million for this small order of self-supporting nuns.

Their dedication to Staten Island continues with their next venture, Pienza Pizza, Pasta & Porchetta—a new eatery that will double the grants and scholarships awarded to their native borough.

The Nov. 16 Borough Hall ceremony will begin at 7 p.m., and be followed by a reception in the main hall with fare by the Port Richmond High School Culinary Arts Program.
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List of Top 50 most influential Staten Islanders released

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Ever wonder who the most powerful people are on Staten Island? Who wields the most influence on the political, cultural, business, non-profit and government landscapes on our borough?

Well, wonder no more. A list of the 50 most powerful people on Staten was released yesterday.

City & State, a media company focused on government and politics in New York, compiled the "Staten Island 50" most influential men and women.

In the No. 1 spot on the list of power brokers and community leaders are hoteliers and philanthropists, Lois and Richard Nicotra, owners of the Hilton Garden in Bloomfield as well as the Commons Cafe, which donates back 100 percent of profits — close to $500,000 since 2011 — to Staten Island non-profits.

"We are thrilled that the prestigious City & State media powerhouse thinks we are worthy of this award and we congratulate all the fellow Staten Islanders on the list," said Richard Nicotra of the recognition.

Lois Nicotra added, "Anytime a light shines on the great things that happen on Staten Island, especially to a national audience, it makes our hearts sing. We've always loved and believed in Staten Island - and we feel that affection reflected on us."

Former Borough President James Molinaro, who still has tremendous influence over the Conservative Party, came in at No. 7. "I'm very grateful to the people of Staten Island who made this happen by giving me the opportunity to serve them," he said during a phone interview.

David Sorkin, Executive Director of the Staten Island JCC, and former Councilman Alfred Cerullo III, the President and CEO of Grand Central Partnership, made the Top 10.

College of Staten Island President Dr. William Fritz, who has forged countless partnerships with businesses and non profits, also made the list.

"It is a real honor and a humbling experience to be named along with so many distinguished Staten Islanders who have given of themselves to make our borough a better place," said Dr. Fritz. "I am also especially proud of the leadership role that the College of Staten Island is taking in the community."

Lynn Kelly, President and CEO of Snug Harbor Cultural Center, came in at No. 38. Lynn also leads NYC & Company's mission to promote arts and tourism on Staten Island.

"I am humbled to be recognized amongst so many Staten Islanders who love this borough and work for its betterment every day," she said. "I am particularly honored to be in the same company as several of Snug Harbor's board members and eight other accomplished women."

The Staten Island 50 most influential people, as compiled by City & State are:

1: Rich and Lois Nicotra, Owners, Nicotra Properties

2: Brian Laline, Executive Editor, Staten Island Advance
3: Vincent Ignizio, CEO, Catholic Charities of Staten Island
4: John Alexander, Chairman and CEO, Northfield Bank

5: David Sorkin, Executive Director, Staten Island JCC

6: Donna Proske, Executive Director, Staten Island University Hospital

7: James Molinaro, Chairman Emeritus, Richmond County Conservative Party and Senior Managing Director, Pitta, Bishop, Del Giorno & Giblin

8: Rev. Dr. Victor Brown, Senior Pastor, Mount Sinai United Christian Church

9: Linda Baran, President and CEO, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce

10: Alfred Cerullo, President and CEO, Grand Central Partnership
11: Vincent Pitta and Jon Del Giorno, Founding Partners, Pitta Bishop Del Giorno & Giblin
12: John Gulino, Richmond County Democratic Committee Chairman

13: Ed Burke, Deputy Borough President
14: Jim Easley, General Manager, General Growth Properties
15: Allen Cappelli, Attorney, NYC Civil Service Commission

16: Terry Troia, Executive Director, Project Hospitality
17: William Fritz, President, College of Staten Island
18: Yaakov Lehrfield, Rabbi, Young Israel of Staten Island
19: Edward Delatorre, NYPD Borough Commander, Staten Island

20: Anthony Pascale, Anchor/Reporter, NY1
21: Steve Fiala, Richmond County Clerk
22: Anthony Ferreri, Executive Vice President and Chief Affiliation Officer, Northwell Health
23: Pat Caltabiano, Founder and Executive Director, World of Women

24: Frank Siller, Chairman and CEO, Tunnel to Towers Foundation
25: Deirdre DeAngelis, Principal, New Dorp High School
26: Sandy Krueger
27: Stu Brenker, Community Activist
28: James Prendamano, Managing Director, Casandra Properties
29: Farid Kader, CEO, Yellow Boots

30: Dennis Quirk, President, New York State Court Officers Association
31: Ray Masucci, President and Founder, Masucci Developers LLC
32: Kathryn Krause Rooney, Chairwoman, Richmond University Medical Center
33: Tom Cocola, Staten Island Borough Commissioner, NYC DOT
34: Dennis Mckeon, Executive Director, Where to Turn
35: Murray Berman, Real estate developer, community activist

36: Harold Wagner, Chairman, Richmond Country Conservative Party

37: Anthony Lodico, Superintendent, Staten Island Public Schools
38: Lynn Kelly, President and CEO, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
39: John Fusco, Staten Island Borough Hall Counsel
40: Leticia Remauro, President & CEO, The Von Agency
41: Daniel Cassella, President, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726
42: Guy Molinari, Former Borough President
43: Al Curtis, Chairman, Staten Island Salvation Army
44: Grandmaster Jhong Uhk Kim, Businessman
45: Teddy Atlas, Founder and Chairman, Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation
46: Vito Fossella Jr., Managing Director, Park Strategies
47: Bill Smith, President, Staten Island Youth Soccer League
48: Joseph Delaney, Founder, Bread of Life Food Drive
49: Ralph Porzio, Attorney
50: John Hudson Dilgen, Activist

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Staten Island Advance – Watch: ‘Organized chaos’ as 600 served at Women of Achievement luncheon

STATEN ISLAND N.Y. – Serving over 600 guests at the 54th annual Staten Island Advance Women of Achievement Luncheon is no easy task.

Monday's event, which celebrated six remarkable women for their commitment to the Staten Island community, took place at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield. So just how does the staff serve hundreds of people in a timely manner?

Frank Lombardi, executive chef of Nicotra's Ballroom at the Hilton Garden Inn, says it's all about practice when it comes to getting everyone fed in a short amount of time.

"We always like to say this is organized chaos. ...," said Lombardi, adding, "We're lucky enough that we get to do this every day."

This year's menu featured spring-like fare – even if it didn't quite feel like spring outside.

Bibb lettuce and watercress with strawberries made up the salad course. The entree consisted of boneless breast of chicken served with spring vegetables and potatoes. And key lime pie was featured for dessert.

Watch the video above to see the well-oiled machine that is the wait and kitchen staff at Nicotra's Ballroom.

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