STATEN ISLAND LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE ALL TIME FAVORITE FLICKS, THEIR SUMMER DRINKS OF CHOICE, AND ADVICE THEY WOULD OFFER THEIR YOUNGER SELVES

BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN AND AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY AMANDA DOMENECH, ALEX BARRETO, AND TOM ZAPCIC

 

 

 

Filippo Giuffre
Owner, Mancini Giuffre Salon and Spa mancinigiuffresalonandspa.com Co-Owner, Zio Toto / ziototo.com

Filippo Giuffre is no stranger to hard work. Obtaining his first job in a pizzeria at the age of ten, the aspiring entrepreneur opened his first business the illustrious Mancini Giuffre salon at the age of 26. The son of a barber, the Palermo native was inspired by his family’s work ethic and put in excessive hours to ensure his dream came to fruition.

“Nothing came easy,” noted Giuffre. “I worked 18 to 20 hours a day to achieve this dream I still do and it might sound crazy but I love what I do. It never feels like work because I enjoy it so much.”

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Two decades later, Giuffre’s salon has grown to two locations and, together with his brother, he owns both the Brooklyn and Staten Island outposts of Zio Toto, a thriving Italian restaurant with a Sicilian-inspired menu.

“My brother has been in the restaurant business his whole life since the age of 14 so he is very skilled in the cooking aspect, and I bring business and customer service experience to the table,” said Giuffre.

“Together we make a great team.” And while COVID presented challenges to both of his businesses, Giuffre’s resilience didn’t waver.

“It was a very tough time but this is where your courage kicks in,” he said. “I had faith that the situation would pass and now we’re finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Don’t be afraid, have the courage to follow your dreams.

WHAT IS YOUR SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE?
Lychee martini, cosmo, or frose

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
The Godfather

 

 

 

 

Dr. Mark Sherman, M.D.
Orthopedist, the Unity Games / theunitygames.com

Revered as one of the borough’s most esteemed orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Mark Sherman attended Brooklyn College and NYU School of Medicine before completing fellowships at the Hospital for Special Surgery alongside impressive company: Dr. John Marshall, physician for the New York Giants and the Olympic Ski Team, and Dr. Russell Warren, one of the first doctors to perform arthroscopy. “We brought the procedure to Staten Island which was a big transition for sports medicine in general,” noted Dr. Sherman.

Serving Staten Island residents for more than 40 years in private practice, Dr. Sherman says he greatly values the relationships he shares with his patients. “ e greatest thing about sports medicine is that you’re dealing with motivated, healthy people who are anxious to get back to where they were before. As doctors we are tasked with helping them return to activity, not faced with illness and death. It’s a different type of pressure that is a little easier on the soul.”

Inspired by his father, also a sports doctor, Dr. Sherman serves as one of the official consultants for the public school athletic league, helping young athletes recover from injury free of charge. Close to two decades ago, he launched the Unity Games, a two-day basketball event that attracts more than 400 participants and encourages cultural diversity.

“I’ve accomplished a lot in my career but I still think the Unity Games are of what I’m most proud,” the doctor concluded.

“Eight thousand arthroscopies and research papers on the repair of the anterior cruciate ligament cannot compare to the smiles on those kids’ faces. at will undoubtedly stay with me forever.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I have no regrets in life and wouldn’t make many changes. I’m lucky enough to have listened to many smart people throughout life, such as my dad and other family members I would make sure I took their advice once again.

WHATS YOUR SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE?
Margarita with tequila and Cointreau, on the rocks, no salt.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Spartacus

 

 

 

 

Michael Kuharski, ESQ. and Lisa Giovinazzo, ESQ.
Partners, Kuharski, Levitz & Giovinazzo Law Group klglawyer.com

Only a week after attorney Michael Kuharski co-launched a personal injury law rm in 2001 in NYC’s Union Square, he secured his first 8-digit verdict officially positioning the law group as a force in the Big Apple. His wife, Lisa Giovinazzo, a successful television anchor and reporter her resume includes Bloomberg, NYSE, and NY1 News also managed the rm’s interests until 2007, when she left the cameras behind after the birth of the couple’s second child to join the rm full time. The practice moved to Staten Island, and today continues to focus on complex injury matters, accidents, medical malpractice, and divorce.

“Our clients are in distress, facing difficulties challenges like accidents, injury, and dissolution of their families, so we try to maintain the confidence and commitment to ensure they can be whole again,” noted Giovinazzo of KLG Law Group. This husband-and-wife power duo is active in their native Staten Island community and have received numerous awards throughout their careers. Giovinazzo, who still appears as a legal commentator for Fox News, is the former president of Staten Island Trial Lawyers and has served on the board for various local charities, while Kuharski, recognized by Super Lawyers for his excellence in law, serves as VP of Staten Island Trial Lawyers and is a former board member for New York State Trial Lawyers. Giovinazzo is also the recipient of the DaVinci Community Service award and the first female board member elected to Richmond County Savings Bank.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELVES?
Listen to your intuition, be confident and walk through every door in search of opportunity but temper ambition with grace and compassion. Even in hardship life will offer amazing silver linings; you have to keep your eyes and heart open. And always, always hold on to your integrity; it is those core values that will sustain you throughout your journey and keep you grounded, humble, and happy. And most importantly marry your best friend!

WHAT IS YOUR SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE?
Fresh squeezed lemonade…and grapefruit martini

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Lisa: Up Close and Personal Mike: Shawshank Redemption

 

 

 

 

Gerald Amerosi, Jr.
Vice President, Gerald Peters geraldpetersinc.com

Gerald Amerosi Jr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, where he was a collegiate athlete and captain of the varsity baseball team. An accredited jewelry professional (AJP) from the Gemological Institute of America currently pursuing his graduate gemologist degree, Amerosi serves as vice president of Gerald Peters, a luxury timepiece and jewelry boutique in the Staten Island Mall. Honored by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) with the coveted “20 Under 40” Leadership Award in 2016, Amerosi currently serves on the board of the Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund and is co-chair for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Group.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
At a young age, sometimes your hard work and dedication toward your goals don’t show results immediately. While our business has grown tenfold over the past decade, it was not always easy. Trusting the process can be a very difficult thing to do. The successes, mistakes, trial, and error are all essential to growth and experience. Do not be discouraged if you’re not where you want to be just yet. Instead, focus on how to get there. Something I learned after reading Traction by Gino Wickman is to set small, tangible goals that will create a path to success. This has empowered me to make small everyday changes to better affect the big picture.

WHAT IS YOUR SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE?
Hoshi Spirits Mojito. If you have not tried Hoshi Green Tea, I suggest you do this summer!

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Good Fellas

 

 

 

 

Demetri Rexinis
Co-Owner, R3 Ventures and Over Easy Kitchen overeasykitchen.com

When Demetri Rexinis was 17 years old, his father offered him a major opportunity. “Club Abyss was our college,” the New Jersey nightclub magnate said of the now-famous hotspot that was bestowed to him and his brother, Kosta, in ‘92. “My father offered us the opportunity to open something of our own, and we owned that opportunity. Some might call it blood money, taking advantage of an o er so big. But we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that building and are proud of what we have produced over the past 30 years.”

For close to a decade, the brothers enticed an entire culture of clubbers to cross two bridges and journey into the depths of Northern New Jersey. They eventually added more properties to their roster, most notably Deko Lounge, which was just a stone’s throw away from Abyss.“If you follow our history from the nightclub world to banquet halls and beyond, we have always been big on atmosphere and overall experience. Everything we do, we make sure it’s a destination.”

Several years ago they formed R3 Ventures, a marketing company that encompasses all of their brands. Most recently, the Rexinis brothers have added a few restaurants to their lineup, coming full circle as a complete hospitality group.

“Over Easy Kitchen has been a huge success for us,” Rexinis said of the breakfast/brunch concept that originated in Marlboro in 2016 before expanding to Holmdel. “We are currently in the process of opening our third location in Fairhaven and are shopping around for a fourth addition in Florida.”

Not just a restaurant that serves brunch, Rexinis explained the Over Easy formula has been so successful because the brothers approached it thoughtfully.

“Growing up in the restaurant business we didn’t want to open up just another diner or coffee shop,” he said. “People think they’re showing up for French toast but it’s like they’re having breakfast in Miami. Our plates are like mini art palettes everything here almost looks too good to eat.”

And while challenged by COVID, the brothers remained resilient. “COVID was a hurdle but it forced us to be more creative and opened up a door to the catering business that we would have never before explored.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Over-thinking creates problems that don’t exist.

WHAT’S YOUR SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE?
Simple: Tito’s on the rocks.

ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
Heat

 

 

 

 

Kevin Barry
Vice President and Operations Manager, Molly Pitcher Inn and Oyster Point Hotel themollypitcher.com, theoysterpointhotel.com

For this Garden State native, the Molly Pitcher Inn and Oyster Point Hotel are multi-generational businesses for both his own family and his guests. Barry practically grew up within the walls of the hotels, which were purchased by his grandfather and managed by his parents when he was in grade school.

“As far as I know, I’ve always been in the hospitality business,” noted Barry. “When mom and dad were at work in one of the hotels, they put me in a guest room and ordered room service. So it was either this or become a race car driver [laughs].”

After whetting his hospitality skills in Boston, Barry returned to spearhead a full renovation of the Oyster Point Hotel, diving headfirst into operational management after. Barry and team have since hosted life milestones spread over generations, from sweet 16s to weddings to baby showers. For him, the key to success is to remember why they are in the business: to create experiences and make people happy.

“In a world of Marriotts and Hyatts we need to offer a unique experience. Whether it’s a wedding or a weekend, seeing the experience come together for someone is the most rewarding aspect of this business. To know that we will always be a part of their memories is special.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Listen to my father when he said this is really hard work. I never understood the challenges of a 24-hour business. I saw all the benefits of the hospitality biz, but never saw the challenges. Don’t assume anything – the good, the bad. Everyday is a learning experience.

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE?
Tequila with a little club soda and slice of orange. Clase Azul is my tequila of choice.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE?
I have to say My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I come from an Armenian family on my mom’s side, so we’re loud and we’re fun. My mom thinks it’s the funniest movie ever, but when my dad first watched it, he told us, “This isn’t funny, this is real life! This was my experience as an outsider coming into this family!”