GARDEN STATE LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE GREATEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS, CELEBRITY STYLE ICONS, AND ALL-TIME FAVORITE COMFORT DISHES

BY ERIK SCHONING, ELIZABETH HAZARD, AND AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY TOM ZAPCIC, ALEX BARRETO, AND VIOLET KARYN PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

 

Gina Dente
Store Manager and Women’s Buyer, Garmany garmany.com
A fashion enthusiast since childhood, this Garden State native worked in high-end corporate retail for several years for big names like Neiman Marcus and Dolce & Gabbana before joining Garmany in Red Bank. Though she originally signed on as a part-time associate six years ago, Dente now serves as general manager and leads the womens wear division of the high-end fashion retailer. Though her role bears several job responsibilities, Dente noted the most rewarding aspect of her career is the confidence and joy that’s associated with finding the perfect outfit.

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“Something as simple as a new outfit can change a person’s entire day,” said Dente. “It can bring out such a confidence in them. I love to see customers smile, and to know that they are so excited to go to an event or special occasion and take pictures. I love that they entrust me to find their perfect look.”

Describing her own style as season less and sophisticated, Dente noted she’s thrilled to see the post-COVID return of special occasion wear. “Loungewear had its moment, but people are excited to get dressed up and go out again.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Becoming Garmany’s first female store manager and helping the womens wear department grow and thrive.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
Anything pasta!

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Victoria Beckham.

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Terranova
Owner, Steakhouse 85 / steakhouse85.com
Retirement didn’t sit well with Matthew Terranova, so what does a longtime restaurateur (he was the previous owner of the East Brunswick Fish Market for 35 years) do to combat boredom? Open a new restaurant, of course! Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick has been serving up the highest quality meat, creative cocktails, and good company since 2008. The official steakhouse of Rutgers University Athletics Department, Steakhouse 85 and its lasting success is a testament to Terranova’s passion for the restaurant business. “I’ve always loved being around my customers, and it’s a joy to see people happy while enjoying a meal.” He said it was a no-brainer to open the restaurant in New Brunswick, his wife Karen’s hometown. “As one of New Jersey’s largest cities, New Brunswick has a need for a great steakhouse. It’s a hub for education, technology, and medicine. We are proud to have a close relationship with the leaders of Rutgers, Johnson & Johnson, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and Saint Peter’s University Hospital.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Starting a business and watching it grow into something successful.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
I love a good eggplant parmesan. It’s always been my favorite.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Frank Sinatra.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Palmeri-LeLand
Executive Director, Tigger Stavola Foundation tiggerstavolafoundation.org
The Tigger Stavola Foundation has one clear mission: to fight addiction, spread awareness, and save lives. Through her role as executive director of the foundation, Andrea PalmeriLe Land takes great pride in doing her part to support this vital, life-saving cause. “I will continue to share Tigger’s story, his life and his death, in hopes of inspiring others who may not be able to do it alone,” she said. It’s certainly no easy task. The mother of four works tirelessly each day in a role that requires her involvement in many aspects of the foundation: creating educational programs for students, supporting like-minded organizations, fundraising, fielding calls for help, and interacting with the community to bring the Tigger Stavola Foundation to the forefront of drug prevention through education. Palmeri-Leland said she stays motivated because there is such a strong need for awareness and help in the community. “Behind every closed door is a story of someone you know who is struggling with the disease and stigma that surrounds addiction. Our office takes calls 24/7 to provide navigation services to those who don’t know who to turn to in an emergency. Where there is life there is hope, and so we continue to show up every single day.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Being able to step into this role and watch the growth of the foundation in such a short period of time. I am in awe of the Stavola family and how they have taken their pain and turned it into purpose. I’m not entirely sure as a mother of four that I could have done the same, but I’m determined to touch the lives of every single student in Monmouth and Ocean counties this year. We have big things coming in 2023!

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
A burger and fries!

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
The one and only Jennifer Lopez.

 

 

 

 

 

Ernst Michel
Owner, Tessuto / tessutomenswear.com
Ernst Michel, owner of Tessuto, a luxury European clothing boutique in Somerville, is an expert in the art of living well. The Haitian-born entrepreneur has been in the fashion world since college, working his way up from selling high-end clothes on consignment to eventually designing and building out his own store. Tessuto has been on the scene since 2004, and in that almost 20-year span Michel has been able to build a strong following among his fashion forward clientele. Today Tessuto is a family business; Michel runs the day-to-day operations alongside his two sons, Asheley and Jordon. A talented Italian tailor, Giuseppe Manto, handles all the alterations.

Since its inception, Tessuto has been a catch-all destination for casual luxury, formal wear, rentals, and alterations. Every item in the store is made in Europe, and there’s a deliberateness to the space that comes from Michel’s lifetime of experience.

“People walk in here and say, ‘What a great vibe.’ We make sure we have fresh flowers, the right music, the right ambiance, the right lighting. It’s a great feeling when you walk in. People who doubted me back in the early days are coming in and congratulating me now.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
My proudest career accomplishment is being an immigrant coming to this beautiful country and being able to make a lifestyle for myself that I would have never been able to have where I come from. Building something out of nothing has been my biggest accomplishment.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
My wife and I have a chef that comes over to the house and cooks for us once or twice a week. Anything seafood is what I like. It has to be healthy cooking.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Will Smith. Until recently, he was always a guy that stayed out of the limelight. He’s always stylish, always picked the right movies. He’s definitely my idol.

 

 

 

 

 

Kimberly Gambale
Co-Owner, Diane & Company, dianeandcoonline.com
For Kimberly Gambale, dresses and the business of dressing women is a family a air. She is the daughter of Diane Scali, the owner of Diane & Company, NJ’s premier fashion boutique that’s been in business for more than 50 years. Now, working side by side with her sister and mother, Gambale couldn’t see herself doing anything else, noting the importance of keeping her mother’s legacy alive through the store. “Diane & Company is more than a boutique; it’s a place where women come to look and feel fabulous,” she said. Calling the family business “craziness at times,” Gambale said she loves what she does and takes great pride in her work. “I am dedicated to being the best at what I do. I live, eat, and breathe to make Diane & Co. the best it can be. We are fortunate to have people y in from all over the country to shop with us. They know when they come to us, they will find a gown or cocktail dress that will exceed expectations. It’s important for me to live up to those expectations.” Kim is grateful for the store’s customers who she said have become family. “Our clients expect the best, and that’s what we want to offer them. You know you’re doing something good when your clients hug you when they walk in the store and squeeze you even tighter when they leave.”

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Every day I work to ensure that my mother’s 50 years of hard work and sacrifice do not go unnoticed. My proudest accomplishment would have to be when clients who have worked with her over the years tell me that I am just like her.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
BREAD!

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
I am influenced by many celebrities. Some days I envy the boho vibe, others the classic, and many in-between. I mainly see style from each individual rather than myself. My style is black and basic with a pop of something. However, I appreciate style and fashion more when I live out those styles on each client. It’s like playing dress up. Each client is a little piece of me. When the woman walks in begging for modern – I got you! When she wants classic black tie yep! That’s my style! You want pleated flowy romantic – LOVE IT!

 

 

 

 

 

Cache Coelho
Co-Owner, Hearthly Burger / hearthlyburger.com
Cache Coelho is well-versed in the complexities of running a restaurant. Co-owner of Shrewsbury’s Hearthly Burger, a fast casual eatery that specializes in hyper-fresh, organic takes on the staple burger, Coelho is an industry veteran who cut his teeth helming restaurants in California. Coelho and co-owner Chris Gooch met through family friends when Gooch was fresh out of the New York restaurant scene and fantasizing about opening his first place. At the time, Coelho was running a successful chain of juice bars in California and dreamed of importing his vision to the East Coast. As Coelho put it, the first meeting was a success: they shook hands, drew up a contract, and Coelho drove across the country to co-launch Hearthly.

“We come from totally different backgrounds, but we get along so well,” Coelho said. “He’s a chef but he’s never run a store before. And I’m not a chef. So now I know how to cook burgers and he knows how to open a store.”

Since its launch, Hearthly has racked up numerous awards, including Best Burger in the Asbury Park Best of the Best. Gooch has spearheaded a locally sourced menu that prizes hyper-fresh ingredients without sacrificing flavor. Hearthly has been so successful that the team is looking at opening their second location, once again drawing on Coelho’s background. In restaurants, as in life, a little experience goes a long way.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Any time my successor does better than me. Especially when I promote an assistant general manager to a general manager and they turn out better than me. That’s my greatest accomplishment.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO CULINARY COMFORT DISH?
Our fried chicken burger with OG sauce.

WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY STYLE ICON?
Keanu Reeves. He just seems like a very giving, caring, selfless person, even with all of his success.