Everyone has a past—some are good, and some are not as good. But whatever you’ve gone through, translating your background and experience to shape and position your business can be transformative.
Eric Maliszewski was able to translate his skills and experience into ownership of the Canal Side Café & Bistro in the heart of the beautiful village of Baldwinsville. While Eric’s story may not be completely unique, it is a story about progression, perseverance, patience and opportunity.
Entering the workforce can be challenging in any field but especially in one as competitive as the culinary world. Eric dove in at a very young age without any formal training. When he was just 14 years old, he began working with his father in the family restaurant in the heart of downtown Syracuse. At that time, his father owned the Trolley Stop Diner which was adjacent to Syracuse City Hall. Eric worked diligently learning the business beside his dad at the diner and with him in their food carts that provided food and beverage for many of the festivals that took place in downtown Syracuse.
Over time, Eric honed his practical skills in the food industry as a banquet chef for 13 years at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse and four years as the head chef at 916 Riverside (formerly known as Castaways) on the shores of Oneida Lake. And while Eric has a great deal of experience in the food industry, he has other talents. Eric has played bass guitar and been a part of the music and entertainment industry since 2003, which allowed him to travel throughout the country.
When opportunity knocked earlier this year, Eric was ready, willing and able to make his mark for him and his family. Eric purchased and transformed the Canal Walk Café into the Canal Side Café & Bistro. He has seventeen employees that work for him in various capacities at the café.
Eric noted that this couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of both his family and the Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “I needed help understanding my options as a business entity, business plan development, financial projections and securing working capital for renovations and new equipment. Onondaga SBDC advisor Mark Pitonzo provided me with important insights and guidance overcoming hurdles, avoiding “speed bumps” and helped show me the way towards pursuing my dream and securing my own business.”
Eric goes on to say, “I’m just a local guy that wants to cook great food, provide great friendly service, and share it with the community”. Eric lives that mantra as he regularly donates food to Meals on Wheels of Baldwinsville.
During a recent visit to his café, laughter and pleasant conversation could be heard throughout the café. I spoke to several retired school teachers who were dining there one morning. They told me that the café is “a staple in the community providing a friendly, wonderful atmosphere with great food that is reasonably priced”. They noted that the chefs at the café are very accommodating with personalized service. According to the sign on his door, his café is open “Every Day, All Year Round” . . . and his customers couldn’t be more pleased.
Mark Pitonzo is a business advisor at the Small Business Development Center’s Liverpool satellite office located at Onondaga Community College @ Liverpool. Contact him at email@example.com