Sweet Smell of Success

Lynne’s Candles and Inspirations brings a potpourri of products to Milton Avenue

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Lynne Shea’s journey to entrepreneurship was a winding one. The Colonie native began her professional career as a nurse after graduating from Albany Med, but found out relatively quickly the job wasn’t a good fit. “”I got burnt out real quick, did some private-duty nursing,” she said. “That wasn’t for me, too boring. So I became a police dispatcher for the Colonie Police.”

Photo by Kevin J. Rogers

That career was cut short as well by the arrival of her children, first a daughter, then twin girls a year later. Shea chose to become a stay-at-home mom, spending the next 20 years “doing odd jobs” and taking care of her kids and home. “Then six years ago my husband and I started doing craft fairs,” Shea said.

The exposure to handmade crafts and unique items got the Sheas to thinking. “We just started fooling around with things,” Shea said. “After going to enough craft shows we wanted to be crafters.”

The Sheas came up with a line of custom made candles and air fresheners and began selling on the craft fair circuit, including shows as far away as Long Island and Connecticut and heavy attendance at Bolton Landing. But after years of being on the road “we got tired of lugging the stuff around,” Shea said. “And then we found this place,” the vacant storefront on Milton Avenue where Lynne’s Candles and Inspirations opened a little over two weeks ago.

“We didn’t want to do Saratoga Springs,” Shea said. “It’s very overpriced for what we feel it is. We thought Ballston Spa was large and upcoming, it was more affordable, people were nicer to deal with, and there were a lot of artistic shops. And every day there’s a new store popping up, or a new restaurant, and we wanted to be part of it. It’s a real community.”

The shop features handmade crafts by a variety of artisans. But the focus of the store are the Sheas’ own unique products.

The first of their creations, and still among the most successful, are Smelly Jellies, scented air fresheners in mason jars designed for small to midsized rooms. Shea is quick to point out their unique qualities. “It’s not a wick, it’s just a gel and a polymer crystal, with dye, distilled water and fragrance,” she said. The Jellies emit fragrance as the water evaporates. When they dry out, adding a little more water can prolong their useful life for up to ten months, or in some cases even more than a year.

Distilled water isn’t necessary for replenishment, Shea said. The Sheas use distilled water because of the high mineral content in the water they get in their basement manufacturing facility at their home in Clifton Park.

Photo by Kevin J. Rogers

Another hot item are the potpourri lights Shea’s husband designed. Also scented with oils, the mason jars are filled with whatever potpourri matches the oil, plus a small set of white Christmas lights.  “These things fly,” Shea said, “especially around the holidays. My biggest seller is Hot Apple Pie. We ship them all over.”

The third big item in the Lynne’s Candles and Inspirations catalog are hand-poured soy candles. One variety comes in sugar shakers, the other in mason jars.

The overall theme of the shop is Americana. “We’re big into the antique thing, or primitive,” Shea said. “Prim, country, that’s where we’re at. Rustic.”

Shea emphasized all of her products are handmade and made in the USA. Shipping is available to anywhere in the country, something many of Shea’s customers have taken advantage of, she said. “After doing craft shows in Connecticut and Long Island, all the shows at Bolton Landing we have a following,” Shea said. “It’s been six years of crafting and craft shows.”

There is a flat $6.95 shipping and handling charge on all shipped orders.

Lynne’s Candles and Inspirations is located at 102 Milton Ave. in downtown Ballston Spa. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on First Fridays. The shop is closed on Sunday and Monday. For information call 518-885-1972 or email Lynne@Lynnesinspirations.com, or visit them online at www.lynnesinspirations.com. A Facebook page is in development and should be available sometime in the next two weeks.

 

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SCHOOL BUDGET PASSES

2012-2013 BSCSD budget gets needed supermajority

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Voters approved the Ballston Spa Central School District’s budget for the upcoming year by an overwhelming majority on Tuesday, May 15, according to unofficial results.

The budget needed the approval of at least 60 percent of the voters to pass due to the way the state’s 2 percent property tax cap formula calculated the district’s tax levy for the 2012-2013 school year. At least 70 percent voted “yes.”

“We’re appreciative of the community’s support of the budget plan we put forward,” said Joseph P. Dragone, Ph.D., Superintendent of Ballston Spa CSD. “We will continue to balance fiscal responsibility with providing the best programs for our students.”

The unofficial tally as of press time was 1,737 voting yes, 759 voting no.

Propositions to fund vehicle replacement, the Ballston Spa Public Library and the Ballston Area Recreation Commission also passed.

Kevin Schaefer and Christine Richardson were the top vote getters for the school board. Richardson got 1,666 votes and Schaefer 1,532, according to the unofficial tally. Nancy Fodera and Donna Miter were third and fourth with 1,414 and 1,384, respectively.

Schaefer, Richardson and Fodera will assume seats on the next board. Schaefer and Fodera are incumbents.

Proposition II, the measure to fund school vehicle replacement, passed by a vote of 1,686 to 756. The proposition provides $834,000 to the district for new vehicles.

Proposition III passed by a vote of 1,839 to 749 and will provide $50,000 to the Ballston Spa Public Library. Proposition IV provides $28,000 to the Ballston Area Recreation Commission and passed by a vote of 1,882 to 568.

The final approved budget for the district totals $76.4 million, a 4.8 percent increase over the previous year. The tax levy actually decreased by 0.4 percent, and property taxes in the district are expected to decrease by almost 2 percent.

The school district has eliminated around 50 positions to close a $1.1 million gap caused by the reduction in the tax levy coupled with a mandated increase in spending, mostly on pension and health care benefits.

Budgets in surrounding districts also passed, with the notable exception of Stillwater. That district also needed a majority of at least 60 percent of voters to approve the budget, but fell short.

 

 

A Revolution in the Restroom

Scott Hofmann hopes his Direct Vent Toilet finds a market ripe for change

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS 
kevin@theballstonjournal

Scott Hofmann of Ballston Spa has extensive experience in the construction field, including over 10 years as a union carpenter. But his new career as the inventor of the Direct Vent Toilet is just getting started, and his new product is all but perfected.

“I’m just doing some last minute tweaks and then it will be pristine,” he said.

Hofmann found his inspiration for the Direct Vent Toilet the day after a night on the town. “I went out with a couple friends for a birthday party and stayed out a little late,” he said. “The next day I went to use the bathroom at work and someone had just left, and they had just annihilated it. I thought I was going to be sick.”

Hofmann got the idea for his unique bathroom fixture practically on the spot. The question was how to get it to work properly, and at an affordable price. Hofmann found the answers in his extensive experience in the building trades.

“It looks exactly like every other toilet you’ve ever seen,” he said. “But there’s a PVC pipe out the back that vents the odor out and down through the walls and out.”

The suction fan isn’t in the toilet itself, but installed in another location in the house, most likely in the furnace room or utility room. “It’s pretty much silent,” Hofmann said.

Because of the construction requirements Hofmann thinks the best market for his invention is in new construction or remodeling jobs. “It’s easiest to install when all the walls are open,” he said. “Basically it’s for new construction or remodels. Not just that, but that’s the easiest to do. When the walls are wide open you’re good to go.”

Hofmann got first-hand experience and a chance for some trial-and-error experimentation at one of his own properties. “I have an apartment building and renovated it,” he said. “I put a different one in each apartment and finally pinpointed it, really got it working perfectly.”

Actually having the chance to install the product in a live setting allowed the inventor to find out exactly what he needed to make his idea a reality. “You gotta use a certain kind of toilet,” Hofmann said. “I wanted it to look the same as anything else.”

The next step was to form a business, a process which Hofmann said is still somewhat in the nascent stages. “I’m really just getting started,” he said. “I have a company I’m working with that’s building me a website, and they’re going to be doing some advertising.”

Hofmann has set the base price for the Direct Vent Toilet at $1499 fully installed, but thinks there will be a discount program as part of the marketing initiative. “That’s all in the works,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a coupon on the website for discounts on orders that go through that, maybe $500. The company is setting all that up.”

By comparison, high-end Kohler toilets price out at a top retail price of between $1400 and $1800. Mid-range high quality toilets by Kohler and American Standard retail for somewhere between $675 and $775. The least expensive models by all manufacturers are under $250, and the most expensive over $5000.

Professional installation of a new toilet generally costs between $50 and $150, on average.

Until all the details are worked out and the website up and running Hofmann plans to continue tweaking while working from his home in Ballston Spa. But if all goes according to plan an office and manufacturing facility could be in cards in the near future.

“Hopefully it will catch on with new home builders,” Hofmann said. “That’s where things can really take off.”

For information on the Direct Vent Toilet call 518-435-5216 or email directventtoilet163@gmail.com. Hofmann expects the website and social media sites like Facebook to be finished soon.

 

Ballston Board Approves Biggest Park

Anchor Diamond Park to occupy 100 acres of Lang Farm; Southworth voices opposition

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

By a 3-2 vote, the Ballston town board has chosen the biggest of four possible options for developing a park on Middleline Road, made possible by the bequest of the late Frank Schidzick. The decision means the park, to be named Anchor Diamond Park in honor of Schidzick’s former business, would occupy 100 acres of the Lang property rather than the 49 acres the town board had decided upon last year.

Supervisor Patti Southworth was opposed to the larger option. “As much as I don’t like it, we live by majority rule,” she said. “I just think it (the smaller park) makes more fiscal sense.”

Schidzick bequeathed an estimated $900,000 to the town for the development of a passive recreation park on his passing over a decade ago. The money has been tied up in probate since then, but the issues were recently settled, freeing up the funds.

Last year the town board requested the Schidzick estate purchase 49 acres of the Lang property for the town. The estimated cost of purchasing the land and developing it into a park of that size is around $441,000.

Now that the estate has settled the town has the opportunity to buy the land on its own. Choosing the 100 acre option means an expense for purchase and development of an estimated $701,310, according to town Parks and Recreation Committee documents. If the bequest turns out to be for the full $900,000, that would leave $198,690 for ongoing maintenance.

Choosing the 49 acre option would have meant an initial outlay of $441,210, with $458,790 left over for maintenance. Annual maintenance costs are estimated by the Parks and Recreation Committee to be $21,335 regardless of the size of the park.

By choosing the largest option the board reduced the per-acre asking price for the property from $7,142.86 to a flat $6,000.

Southworth made it clear her opposition was to the expense of the park, not to the park itself. “It’s going to use up at least two-thirds of the funds,” she said. “And we don’t even know exactly how much it’s going to be yet. The money isn’t in the bank.”

Southworth is concerned the town will need to either dip into other funds to maintain the park or institute a town tax to pay for it. “We don’t have a town tax or highway tax,” she said. “We’ve cut the highway department budget every year. There are infrastructure stresses that need to be addressed. Nobody is thinking long term, how we are going to support the program long term.”

Town councilman Tim Szczepaniak has offered the formation of a non-profit organization or the use of the $1,000 parks and recreation fee the town charges on new building permits as alternative means of funding the maintenance of the park. But Southworth pointed out neither is a guaranteed source of funds, and the building permit fee monies are supposed to be used for all town recreation projects, not earmarked simply for the park.

“We have a trail project that’s making some progress,” she said, “that’s going to cost around a quarter of a million dollars.” The project would better connect the town to the village of Ballston Spa, she said.

“We’re trying to make ourselves a contiguous village,” she said, “a town that’s united.”

A final concern is the ultimate nature of the site. Schidzick’s bequest was for a passive recreation park. But there is no language mandating the park be forever wild, she said, and Southworth thinks there is nothing to legally stop it from being used for other purposes, including the development of other recreational facilities.

“If we honor (Schidzick’s) bequest it would be forever wild,” she said. “I do believe in his heart that’s what he wanted.”

 

Back to the Future

Mario’s Ice Cream reopens as Christy’s Cones

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

The former Mario’s Ice Cream is back in business under new ownership, marking the return of hard and soft ice cream sales to the popular location at the intersection of Routes 50 and 67. “I saw the opportunity and just sort of hopped on it,” said owner Alexis Antonecchia. “I did it earlier this year and was open by early April.”

Photo courtesy Christy's Cones

Many of the best selling flavors and products are back, including Hot Fudge Sundaes, Candy Flurries, Root Beer Floats, Banana Splits, Creamy Milkshakes, Soft Ice Cream and Hard Ice Cream. Toppings include M&M’s, Cookie Bites, nuts, strawberries, peanut butter, butterscotch, caramel, fudge, Butterfinger, Reese’s Pieces, whipped cream, sprinkles, cherries and more.

And of course there is the ever-popular Van-Orange Swirl.

For the moment Antonecchia is concentrating on ice cream sales, but reopening the restaurant and broadening the product line isn’t out of the question. “I think for now I’m just going to do the ice cream,” she said. “I want it to always be consistent so people are always happy with it, and then once that’s all squared away we’ll look at the rest.”

Antonecchia thinks the demand is certainly there for offerings besides ice cream. “People are saying they would love to see the restaurant open again,” she said. “I’m getting a lot of feedback from the customers, a lot of people asking when we’re going to open it again. People are so excited to see us.”

Antonecchia was excited herself when the opportunity arose to buy the business. “I drove by Mario’s a lot, and it was unfortunate that it wasn’t open,” she said. “The right time came about and I just always wanted to do it. I’m a huge ice cream fan myself and I think a lot of other people are, too.”

If the restaurant does reopen it will be for casual dining. Antonecchia hasn’t considered menu design yet, but “it won’t be a diner,” she said.

Christy’s Cones is located at 1321 Saratoga Rd. (Rte. 50) in Ballston Spa. Business hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Closing time is flexible depending on inventory and the level of business, Antonecchia said. For information email christyscones@gmail.com or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChristysCones.

 

Downtown Hairtique Celebrates Grand Opening

Danielle Daniels is hoping for a revitalization on her stretch of Milton Ave.

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Ballston Spa native Danielle Daniels didn’t waste much time after graduating from John Paolo’s Xtreme Beauty Institute last May. “I did a mobile ‘beauty on the go’ kind of thing, All Dolled Up,” she said. “I got a lot of clients that way. But it got to be too much driving around all the time.”

Photo by Kevin J. Rogers

The desire to spend less time on the road led her to her to open The Downtown Hairtique at her current storefront location on upper Milton Avenue. “It’s a lot better,” Daniels said. “I can keep everything in one place, I don’t have to pack my car up with what color I need for this client this day.”

Daniels credits her All Dolled Up experience and extensive network of local contacts for getting her business up and running and helping her to find the right people to work with. “It’s a lot of friends of friends, family of friends,” she said. “And my esthetician is a longtime friend of mine, she’s actually my ex-sister in law. And Desiree I went to school with.”

The Downtown Hairtique offers haircuts, hair coloring, facials, eyelash extensions, makeup application and both men’s and women’s waxing. Daniels expects wedding parties to be a big part of the business going forward. “I love to do wedding parties,” she said. “We’re getting into that season now. Proms, too.”

Daniels believes her creativity, especially her unique use of color, is a major selling point for her salon. “I never use just one color,” she said. “I mix up a bunch of different colors and use them together. I have an idea in my head how it’s going to come out and most of the time, like 90 percent of the time it comes out that way.”

The willingness to occasionally be daring is also a plus, especially in the eyes of clients looking for a change in style. “I love doing something different,” Daniels said. “A lot of my clients come in and say I’ve been seeing this lady, she’s been doing the same thing, she’s afraid to step outside of the box.”

Daniels is especially glad to be back in the Village, a place she once called home. “My husband and I used to live in an apartment on Front Street,” she said. “I totally loved that apartment. I loved being in the heart of the village. I’m hoping we can get this particular part of town looking a lot nicer.”

Daniels hopes her arrival on the upper stretch of Milton Avenue is just one step in that revitalization of the northern entrance to downtown, she said. She believes there is a great deal of unrealized potential in the older, classic buildings lining the street. And with an improved streetscape more in line with the improvements farther down the avenue should come an uptick in business.

“It seemed that First Friday was more focused on that part of town, Front Street and the lower part of Milton Ave.,” Daniels said. “I’m hoping we can get more walk-in traffic up this way.”

Daniels is the sole proprietor and principal stylist of The Downtown Hairtique. Desiree Olsen is the other stylist and Erica Ballard is the esthetician.

The salon officially opened on April 16 and celebrated its Grand Opening on May 4. A formal ribbon cutting hosted by the BSBPA was in the works as of press time.

Base prices for women’s wash, condition, cut and style start at $20, for men’s cut and style $15. Facials start at $40, makeup applications at $30.

The Downtown Hairtique is located at 256 Milton Ave. in Ballston Spa. The salon is open for walk-ins from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Off-hours appointments are available, including on Sundays. For information call 636-6400 or visit their page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/The-Downtown-Hairtique.

The end of the road for Seeber

Surprise guilty plea brings final conclusion to Witter case 

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Katherine Seeber, the woman who plead guilty to the charge of killing her 91-year-old step-great grandmother, Ruth M. Witter, over a decade ago, then saw her conviction overturned, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree in the same case, according to a Tuesday, May 1 statement released by Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III.

“Once in the courtroom, Ms. Seeber indicated that she believed that there was overwhelming evidence to indicate that she participated in the death of Mrs. Witter,” the statement said.

Seeber was originally indicted along with her then-boyfriend, Jeffrey Hampshire, in the Feb. 12, 2000 murder of Witter in Albany County. The couple were accused of taking Witter’s body to the Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater and trying to hide it, giving Saratoga County jurisdiction in the case.

Seeber plead guilty to the charges and agreed to testify against Hampshire after being sentenced to 20 years to life. Hampshire was acquitted.

On June 27, 2011 trial judge Jerry Scarano ruled Seeber’s rights were violated in the original case after finding the evidence provided by forensic scientist Garry Veeder was unreliable. Veeder committed suicide in May 2008 after questioning by the State Police, who were investigating allegations of misconduct in dozens of criminal cases, including charges that Veeder had falsified data.

Scarano ruled Veeder’s forensic report was the “deciding factor” in Seeber’s decision to plead guilty to the original charges. After the ruling Murphy decided to try Seeber again. A trial date was supposed to be set at Tuesday’s hearing, but Seeber chose instead to plead guilty to the manslaughter charge and an additional charge of burglary, committed on a different date than the murder.

The District Attorney’s office then recommended a sentence capped at 17 years after consulting with Witter’s relatives. Judge Scarano will decide the sentence on May 29 after reviewing the pre-sentencing report from the Probation Department.

Hampshire was later twice convicted of burglary. In the early morning hours of March 18, 2010 he was a passenger in a car driven by Travis Carroll which struck and killed 27-year-old Ryan Rossley on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs at around 4 a.m. Carroll was convicted of manslaughter in the case and sentenced to five to 15 years in state prison. Hampshire, who was on parole at the time of the incident, was convicted of evidence tampering and sentenced on July 8, 2011 to two to four years.

It is expected Seeber will return to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she has been incarcerated, after sentencing.

A Fresh Brew

Coffee Planet completes renovations, reopens with new equipment and a fresh look

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Coffee Planet is reporting increased traffic since reopening following a two-week renovation, according to manager Bronwyn Bartlett. “I don’t know if word got out on the street that we’re refreshed but we’ve seen a lot of new faces,” Bartlett said. “Our regulars are back, and we’ve seen a lot of new faces.”

Photo by Kevin J. Rogers

The downtown coffeehouse was closed from Easter Sunday until reopening on Friday, April 20. “We’ve been steady busy ever since,” Bartlett said.

Changes include everything from interior work to new equipment to the addition of outdoor seating along the Malta Avenue side of the building. The creamer table has been moved from its old place across from the counter to the end of the counter for convenience. “The biggest thing people notice is the creamer table,” Bartlett said.

The floors have been refinished and fresh paint applied to the walls. The purple and yellow color scheme was retained, but most of the green is gone.

A lounge seating area has been added to the back room, with new chairs and a table. The old countertops and tabletops have been replaced, and the patio furniture on the sidewalk is also brand new.

“And we have a brand new sign out front which lights up at night, which is awesome,” Bartlett said.

The equipment behind the counter is also brand new, including new grinders and brewers, and a new espresso machine custom ordered from Elektra s.r.l. of Treviso, Italy. “You can really taste the difference in our coffee,” Bartlett said.

Coffee Planet will continue to offer premium homemade ice cream from the Ice Cream Man of Greenwich, N.Y. A big change for this summer will be the outdoor seating on the other side of the pass-through window. “They deliver us ice cream and we’re happy to sell it,” Bartlett said. “It does really well.”

“We’ve been in Ballston Spa for 10 years now,” said owner Cliff Baum. “The community support we’ve gotten has been outstanding. It was time to refresh the place and enhance what we’re offering and bring it up to the next level.”

Coffee Planet is located at 100 Milton Ave. in the heart of dowtown Ballston Spa. Business hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. For information call 518-884-9913 or email info@thecoffeeplanet.net, or visit their website at cafe.thecoffeeplanet.net. To join Coffee Planet’s social media community visit them on Facebook.

Tiger's Blood On The Menu

Bongiorno’s Pizzeria opens on Rowland Street with an icy twist

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal.com

Jason Strainer was already a seasoned restaurant hand when his uncle invited him out to the West Coast to help open what was to become the first of three pizza places in San Diego. “Before my uncle moved to San Diego he had a store on Canada Street (in Lake George),” he said. “But he’s done very well out there. He has the three stores, which I helped him build and develop.”

Photo by Kevin J. Rogers

“Every job I’ve ever had since I was 13 was food-related.” Strainer said.

After getting the businesses up and running in Southern California, Strainer spotted an opportunity in Troy and came back East. “I started in Troy, opened in Queensbury, sold those business shortly after to some investors,” he said. It was while casting around for a new challenge that he found the vacant building on Rowland Street, where he opened Bongiorno’s Pizzeria on April 12. The location fit his bill perfectly.

“I needed at least 30,000 addresses I can deliver to, and that happens here,” Strainer said.

Other considerations included a healthy available market in his target demographic. “I look for how many colleges, how many churches and school districts are in my area, and there’s plenty (here),” he said. “All kinds of Little League teams, sporting activities, fire departments, police–it’s all over.”

And the last piece of the puzzle was a healthy draw for business from outside the area. “Does your area offer a draw?” he asks. “And yes, the track, SPAC two miles down the road that has concerts that attract 20,000 or 30,000 people. So that’s like steroids for your business.”

The fact the facility has so much room also gave the entrepreneur ideas. “This place was built in about five additions,” Strainer said. The extra space means the opportunity for product offerings beyond the traditional pizza place fare: ice cream and Hawaiian Shaved Ices served from a pass-through window.

“99 percent of the people out there don’t know what the shaved ice is, they think it’s a snow cone,” he said. “It’s not a snow cone. It’s so light and sweet it will blow away in the wind on you.” Hawaiian Shaved Ices offers 95 flavors, but Strainer decided to go with just the top 16, including the popular Tiger’s Blood.

Creating the ices requires special equipment currently on order. “We’re getting deliveries every day through UPS,” Strainer said. “Everything’s ready to rock and roll. Just need the equipment.”

Bongiorno’s will also offer hard ice cream, and soft ice cream starting in June or July.

“I’m not sure how it will all play out but I’d like to give some away at some point,” Strainer said. “Put a sign out there for ‘Free Shaved Ice. How Nice.'” The owner is contemplating a giveaway of the first 2000 ices once weather permits.

“My goal is to have a line out there full-time, all the time,” he said, “because I know it’s all kids and their parents had to drive them there. Maybe three out of ten will wander in and check the place out and buy a slice and a drink, grab a menu. I’m not afraid to give some away.”

Jason Strainer tosses a pizza. Photo by Kevin J. Rogers

As for the rest of the menu, Strainer credits his lengthy experience with other pizzeria menus in helping to focus and target it. “I gathered little bits and pieces from every one that I liked, and that’s where I got the compilation that became my menu,” he said. “Five or six stores later it’s been revised, I’ve added and deleted items. It’s a big compilation of what people want and what sells.”

Bongiorno’s Pizzeria is located at 312 Rowland St. in Ballston Spa and is open seven days a week. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 9 pm. Sunday. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery within a five-mile radius are available. There is a $12 minimum on delivery orders. For information and orders call 518-885-3100.

A Cause for Paws

The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. opens an indoor dog park on Ford Street

BY KEVIN J. ROGERS
kevin@theballstonjournal

The Lazy Dog Cookie Company has extended its reach into the canine community with the Tuesday, April 17 opening of the sPAW City Social Club Indoor Dog Park on the second floor of their Ford Street facility. “It was basically unused space,” said Keith Augustine, co-owner and vice president of Lazy Dog. “We had a little company store up there and we did animal rescues and things like that, but people were asking us for a cool place to exercise their dogs in a safe environment.”

Lazy Dog was founded by Augustine’s wife, Amy Augustine, as a home-based business in 2001. Her idea was to create human-grade treats for dogs out of healthy ingredients, without the use of meats, refined sugars or trans fats.

Photo courtesy Lazy Dog Cookie Co.

Over time the success of the company’s trademarked Pup-PIE and Pup-SQUEAK treats prompted the Augustines to move their manufacturing to the current 13,000-sq. ft. space in a late-1800s post-and-beam barn. Production was limited to the first floor, leaving the second free for development into the dog park.

“We actually covered about 2750 sq. ft. with commercial grade rubber flooring,” Keith Augustine said. “We sealed it with an antimicrobial sealant that was developed by a veterinarian, and we use a hospital-grade cleaner on it.”

The purpose was to provide pet owners and their charges with a safe, secure, clean and climate-controlled environment, he said.

An additional 2000 sq. ft. in the front of the second floor has been converted into an on-leash, fenced-in social area where people can relax with a book or laptop. “We have free wi-fi throughout the building,” Augustine said. “We’ve had people come in and pull out their laptops and do some work while sitting with their dogs.”

Another 1200 sq. ft. of the second floor is available for private parties, dog trainers, and other groups who want to do an event, he said.

A Grand Opening celebration is scheduled for this Friday, April 27 from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission is free, but dog owners will have to fill out the required paperwork to enjoy the park. Food and refreshments for both dogs and dog lovers will be served, and Heather Bohm-Tallman Photography will offer free pet photos.

Photo courtesy Lazy Dog Cookie Co.

A raffle to benefit Saratoga Animal Shelter will also be held. Raffle tickets will be $5, three for $10 and five for $20. Raffle items will have a value of $70.

Regular hours for the park are 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The park is closed on Mondays.

Admission rates are $8 per dog and $5 for the second and third dog per handler during the week, and $10 for the first dog and $5 for the second and third per handler on the weekends. Packages with discounted rates are available, starting at a 10-day pass for $70 and going up to a 120-day pass at $4 per visit. Second and third dogs are discounted on the 20-day pass and up, with a maximum discount for additional dogs of 60% on the 120-day pass.

Taxes are included in all prices.

Lazy Dog Cookie Co. is located at 101 Ford St. in Ballston Spa. The company sells wholesale to outlets in New York and Canada and ships its products worldwide. Regular business hours are 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. For information or orders call 518-309-3732 or email info@lazydogcookies.com, or visit their website at www.lazydogcookies.com. The company can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lazydogcookiecompany.