Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.

    Interview

  • From Marine Corps to Cooperstown: Mets Icon Gil Hodges Enshrined in Hall of Fame

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    Executive Produced by Carousso Enterprises, LLC.

    Cooperstown, NY — It’s been a long journey from Brooklyn to Queens to Cooperstown for Gil Hodges, the legendary Major League manager who led the 1969 “Miracle Mets” to its first championship in franchise history following seven consecutive losing seasons to begin the club’s existence.

    On Sunday, Hodges will be posthumously inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in the presence of his 96 year old widow Joan, members of the Mets organization and his former players.

    “He was the difference in the Met organization, changing from the laughable Mets, the losing ball club for the first seven years,” said former Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool. “He joins the ball club in 1968 and right from day one, we knew we were going to learn how to play the game the right way.”

    Kranepool was Hodges’ teammate on the Mets from 1962-63 before he played for the retired Marine when he took over as skipper.

    “He was a very strict disciplinarian,” the original Met told NY2C/Carousso Enterprises. “The way he figured it, the ball club that made the fewest mental mistakes is going to win some ballgames.”

    “There was a persona that Gil brought with him and that was one of strength of leadership and of success,” said Howie Rose, the radio voice of the Mets on WCBS 880.

    “I’m pretty close to ’69 team and all the guys said there wouldn’t have been a world championship without him,” said Jay Horwitz who has spent 42 years in the Mets communications department, including his current role leading alumni relations.

    “There’s no way we’d be talking about the 1969 Mets if not for Gil Hodges,” then-Mets left fielder Cleon Jones told Rachel Luscher in Cooperstown.

    “53 years later and people still talk about that team,” said Mets 1969 champion outfielder Art Shamsky. “Now with Gil Hodges, our manager, going into the Hall of Fame, it just brings more memories about that year and it’s one of the few teams in the history of the game that people still talk about all these years later.”

    Hodges was the manager of the Mets until 1971. He died before the start of the 1972 season. His legendary managerial career succeeded a superb 18-year playing career.

    The eight-time all-star won two World Series championships as a first baseman and outfielder, including Brooklyn’s only ring in 1955, driving in both runs in a 2-0 Dodgers victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7. Hodges played on another Dodgers championship team in 1959 after the team moved to Los Angeles.

    Hodges’ induction into baseball immortality comes 50 years after he died and 35 rounds of votes for enshrinement.

    “It shouldn’t have took (sic) so long, but I’m glad he finally got in,” said Kranepool.

    Hodges’ legacy extends beyond the field at Shea Stadium. Families of the ’69 Mets and even members of his hometown Petersburg, IN made the trip to Cooperstown to celebrate the late skipper.

    “He was his favorite manager. He gave him the motivation to keep going as a player,” said J’nelle Agee, daughter of the late Mets all-star center fielder Tommie Agee. “My dad got hit in the head when he was in spring training, and then, he lost his confidence and Gil Hodges gave him the confidence to keep being leadoff batter.”

    “Our town has followed Gil through his entire career and it’s just so meaningful because so many people behind the scenes have worked for years to advocate for his election to the Hall of Fame,” said former Petersburg Mayor Jon Craig.

    “We’ve pushed for this for so long and it’s overdue and we are just so happy to be here to celebrate him and his family,” Agee said.

    Watch Rachel Luscher’s reporting on Gil Hodges’ induction into the Hall of Fame above. Carousso Enterprises executive produces NY2C’s On The Call, including its Hall of Fame coverage.

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  • Yankees Great Mariano Rivera Welcomes Red Sox Rival David Ortiz to Hall of Fame

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    Executive Produced by Carousso Enterprises, LLC.

    Cooperstown, NY — Hall of Fame Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is among the baseball legends welcoming the 2022 class to Cooperstown on the golf course.

    The Hall of Famers met up on the links ahead of Sunday’s induction of Red Sox DH David Ortiz, late Mets manager Gil Hodges, Bud Fowler, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñosa, Tony Oliva and Buck O’Neil.

    Watch Rachel Luscher’s report for NY2C’s On The Call above, executive produced by Carousso Enterprises.

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  • Businesses Flock to Downtown Brooklyn as Growth Shifts from Manhattan to Outer Boroughs

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a seismic shift in how businesses operate and where they are located with the larger adoption of remote and hybrid work. One of the biggest economic shifts that has developed is the new growth of business in the boroughs outside of Manhattan.

    The decentralizing of Manhattan is a topic the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, has been following closely over the past two and a half years. The Partnership for New York City tells WCBS 880 that Brooklyn is now the fastest growing borough driven by new technology startups.

    “People really want to be in the center of things, but they also want the amenities of living in Brooklyn, which means access to the great residential communities,” said Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

    Myer noted Downtown Brooklyn is booming because after enjoying the convenience of remote work, people prefer to work in the same neighborhoods where they live. That has lifted local businesses.

    “It used to be dominated by the courts, the Board of Education and shopping on Fulton Street,” she said. “And now, It’s still shopping on Fulton Street, but it’s also shopping at City Point, it’s also a lot of residential and a lot of people are coming to Downtown Brooklyn to live because it’s so easy to get around.”

    Architectural and design firm FXCollaborative is erecting mixed-use buildings throughout Downtown Brooklyn that serve businesses and residents. It decided to move its own headquarters from Manhattan to One Willoughby Square, a mixed-use building FXCollaborative designed on Duffield Street.

    “We became one of the first tenants in the building and took three floors,” said FXCollaborative senior partner Dan Kaplan. “So many of our architects and professional staff and overall staff live very close to Downtown Brooklyn.”

    The architect’s philosophy for the post-pandemic city can be boiled down to what he calls a “15-minute community.”

    “That means anything that you care about whether it’s working, living, playing, learning, culture, civic infrastructure, green space, recreation is all within 15 convenient minutes – healthcare – 15 convenient minutes from where you live,” said Kaplan.

    FXCollaborative has designed office spaces that are open and airy.

    FXCollaborative is erecting mixed-use buildings throughout downtown Brooklyn that serve businesses and residents. Photo credit FXCollaborative

    “Everybody thirsts for and loves a connection to nature, to daylight, to greenery, to the changing of the sky, to the changing of the seasons, and this notion of a building that feels like it’s connected to its greater environment is really what drives us and drives our design.”

    Despite the growth in downtown Brooklyn as employees seek a hybrid work utopia, both Kaplan and Myer believe its proximity to Manhattan via the subway is beneficial because the island is still the engine that drives New York’s economy.

    “The reports of the death of the office buildings are greatly exaggerated,” said Kaplan.

    The FXCollaborative senior partner noted on the Small Business Spotlight that satellite offices were not widely utilized as predicted after 9/11.

    “What happened was that was great, except for people started saying, ‘Well that’s good, but I’m going to be in the center, right? I’m not going to be in one of those satellites.’ So, there is this idea of enterprises needing to be close to each other and have an established culture, themselves.”

    “That’s pretty obvious when people come here, they feel like it’s urban and it’s connected, but it’s also different from Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan. And I think that’s really to our advantage,” said Myer.

    The fastest growing industries in the business district, according to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership leader, are technology and media.

    “We have companies like Gimlet Media, which are now part of the Spotify umbrella at 41 Flatbush,” Myer said. “Podcasting and a lot of tech and media is really comfortable not being in the center of things and being in Brooklyn. And that’s really been terrific to have companies with that kind of energy who are that forward thinking.”

    See more about the growth of downtown Brooklyn and the beautiful new mixed-use buildings on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • How Long Island’s Adventureland Successfully Markets to Moms

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Amusement Parks have been on a roller coaster over the past two and a half years with COVID-19 halting rides. But, the business of fun has made a comeback this summer.

    “We have bounced back,” said Adventureland president and co-owner Steve Gentile. “We kept a lot of those changes and it’s for the better.”

    One of the biggest changes to the park’s business model, Gentile said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, was charging admission instead of a pay-as-you-go model as it did previously.

    “In the very beginning, it was a very big obstacle for us, but now they’re liking it more so because the people that are here inside the park want to be here,” he said.

    Gentile said parents have told him Adventureland feels safer because people aren’t wandering into the park only to “hang out.”

    Revenue has also increased this year compared to 2019.

    “We’re giving you a first-class product here as any amusement park does. And, we’re trying to give you a first-class product – which we feel we are – we’re giving you a safe business – which I feel we are – and a happy place to enjoy with your kids.”

    That experience is the selling point to mothers who make a majority of household purchasing decisions, according to several studies of consumer spending.

    “The mom is the one that’s making their decision where to spend their entertainment dollar,” said Gentile. “We need to convince mom that we are delivering a safe product here for them and that they can entertain their kids in a safe environment.”

    Adventureland opened in 1962. Gentile’s father Tony Gentile bought the park in 1979, which Steve took over when Tony died in 2013.

    “I get to work with me, my brother, my three kids, my brother-in-law, two cousins, people that have been working with us for over 20 to 25, 30 years. I say sometimes how lucky we are that we can have such a family unit in the park.”

    Being surrounded by family during the worst of the pandemic sustained Gentile’s spirits.

    “My brother was speaking with somebody the other day about a recession and he nailed it on the head: ‘If we can get through a pandemic with not being open, I think Adventureland will handle a recession,” he said.

    The amusement park owner told WCBS 880 that children’s “happy screams” emanating from the rides are an indication that he’s doing his job right.

    “Screams, that tells us that we are succeeding in what we’re doing,” said Gentile. “That’s wonderful stuff that you hear kids screaming in our business that they’re having fun.”

    Watch the full interview with Adventureland owner Steve Gentile on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • Five Dimes Brewery Launches ‘BYOF’ to Support Surrounding NJ Businesses

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    WESTWOOD, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Chris Alepa had the idea seven years ago to open a craft brewery at the Westwood, New Jersey, location that was home to the family-owned L.N. Grand 5 & 10 Cent Store for 60 years. That became a reality in April, and Five Dimes Brewery’s early success is exceeding Alepa’s wildest dreams.

    “When we finally opened the doors, it was a rush to get in,” he said. “It was a good, good feeling.”

    On the 250th Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, Alepa explained to WCBS 880 that his goal was to connect neighboring businesses in Westwood and communities in surrounding towns.

    “You’re seeing the restaurant next door and the one around the corner, and they’re all having some of the best business they ever had. Even the Irish pub that first might have thought it was a competition thing has been doing fantastic. It’s only helped their business.”

    Five Dimes Brewery has a “BYOF” policy or “bring your own food,” which the owner sees is helping local eateries.

    “We had people from Greenwood Lake the other day, we had people coming from Rockland County, we had a couple guys coming from Brooklyn. So people are coming from all the different areas now. They want to check the place out. And I think that’s been great for the whole community, putting Westwood on the map and opening the door to see what else the town has to offer.”

    Alepa ran into an unusual problem when he opened his craft brewery to such high demand: it ran out of beer.

    “We could not find kegs anywhere in America,” he said.

    “Once we make our beer, we need to move it out of the tanks, into the kegs, and then, make more so we have a good supply. Well, we didn’t have that ability. All the kegs we would try to get, we couldn’t get. We finally found them in Canada, they got shipped to us, they got held up at U.S. Customs for 30 days,” Alepa explained.

    Five Dimes Brewery temporarily closed for several days to rebuild their keg supply. They also hired more workers.

    The craft brewery has a rooftop deck where they host private events. They also host tours where you can watch the brewing process in-house.

    Home-brewing became widely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has long been a hobby of the founder.

    “I’m a chiropractor by training,” said Alepa. “I still do that, but this has been a passion. I’ve been home-brewing and I always thought this would be awesome for the community.”

    The entrepreneur also operates Select Wellness, LLC a separate chiropractic, physical therapy and acupuncture practice with locations in Westwood and Fair Lawn. But, he is scaling back to follow his passion of running Five Dimes Brewery.

    The company is now canning its popular IPAs, lagers and pilsners for retail.

    See what makes Five Dimes Brewery a hit on the 250th Small Business Spotlight video above.

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