Astoria Characters: The Smiler Behind Sorriso's
by Nruhling
 Astoria Characters
Sep 25, 2018 | 19 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Frank came to America from Italy in 1966 when he was 9.

Text and Photos by Nancy A. Ruhling

Standing behind the shiny stainless-steel counter at Sorriso Italian Pork Store, Frank DePaola is all smiles.

His is a big, broad, toothy grin, the kind people break into when a photographer asks them to “Say cheese!”

It’s a habit Frank can’t break: He’s been doing it all 60 years of his life, and he has practiced it on a daily basis since he opened Sorriso nearly 40 years ago.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Sorriso Italian Pork Store is at 44-16 30th Ave.

“I was so busy getting the shop ready to open that I hadn’t had time to think of a name for it,” he says. “The first customer who walked in commented on the fact that I was smiling, so I decided to call it Sorriso, which is the Italian word for smile.”

Frank’s family came to Long Island’s Massapequa from Calabria, a region in the toe of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula, when he was 9. Back then, he had never heard the word smile.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Frank began helping out at his grandfather’s bakery when he was 11.

“The trip here took 12 days by ship,” he says. “We arrived in April, and I didn’t know any English. By September, when I went to school, I was speaking half English and half Italian.”

Frank, who wears a meaty butcher’s pencil rakishly behind his right ear, got his first job – working in his grandfather’s bakery – when he was 11.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Sorriso’s homemade sausages.

“I did things like wash the pans and fill in the cannoli,” he says. “That’s when I fell in love with food.”

It also helped that in Italy his mother made her own sauce and sausage and that his father was a vegetable farmer.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Frank’s favorite spot — behind the front counter.

By 14, Frank had his first real job. He has fond memories of working in that pork store.

“I met my wife there,” he says, adding that she used to come in to buy ricotta and mozzarella.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Tony Mannino, Sorriso’s butcher.

(For the record, her cheese choices weren’t the only thing that attracted Frank to her.)

“We fell in love as teenagers,” he says, “and have been together ever since I was 17.”

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Tony making sausage.

Frank left the pork store when he was 21 to take over a butcher shop on 30th Avenue in Astoria. In 1988, he moved it across the street to its current space, which is significantly bigger.

“The original store was only selling meat,” he says. “We added the authentic Italian products.”

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Sorriso makes several kinds of sausages.

Sorriso, which happily announces itself with smiley faces in the Os of its name, sells items like pesto calabrese and caper berries that can’t easily be found elsewhere and carries a variety of products, including tomato sauce and olive oil, under its own brand name.

It also has a full diner-size menu that runs from appetizers, salads and sandwiches to main courses that include meatballs, lasagna and chicken artichoke sausages.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Ready for the next customer.

“We make everything in-house,” Frank says. “Most of the recipes are from home – they are just like my mother used to make.”

The special ingredient in all of them, he adds, is “a lotta love.”

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Frank never gets tired of coming into work.

Sorriso Italian Pork Store is open seven days a week, and Frank is usually there five or six of them. He drives in from East Meadow, where he lives, arriving as early as 5:30 or 6 in the morning to make the mozzarella and generally doesn’t go home until after closing at 6:30 in the evening.

“When I am at home, I’m always doing stuff for the store like going to the bank or visiting vendors,” he says.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Frank makes the mozzarella.

He doesn’t see anything unusual about devoting all his time to Sorriso.

“I love interacting with the customers,” he says. “I’ve been in business 39 years, so I’m almost on the fourth generation of them.”

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

In Italian, sorriso means smile.

Frank is having too much fun to give up the front counter.

He’s never given a thought to retirement.

The issue isn’t likely to come up soon: His son and daughter are grown and have their own careers.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

Frank takes smiling seriously.

The fact that they have no interest in taking over the family business makes Frank feel relieved.

“Every time I come to work,” he says, “I treat it like it’s my first day on the job.”

He smiles.

Astoria Characters Day: The 10th Anniversary is Sept. 22, 2019.  It is a free, public event.

Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at; @nancyruhling, nruhling on Instagram,,

Copyright 2018 by Nancy A. Ruhling


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Facts About Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry
by cjleclaire
 Stephen Hans Blog
Sep 20, 2018 | 1256 views | 0 0 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Why Is Sexual Harassment so Prevalent?

sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is more prevalent in the restaurant industry than any other industry. Statistics show that 90% of women and 70% of men working in the restaurant industry reported they had experienced some form of sexual harassment.

What Factors Make Restaurants Prone to Sexual Harassment?

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) indicated that the following factors make employees in the hospitality industry more susceptible to sexual harassment:

  • Women make up 71% of restaurant servers
  • Men make up the majority of restaurant management
  • Typical servers are young females
  • Women are in lower pay and lower status jobs
  • Due to lower status, women do not feel comfortable confronting others about inappropriate behavior
  • The employee turnover rate is high — 70% annually
  • The customer is always right mentality enables customers to sexually harass employees
  • States with tip systems experienced more sexual harassment than states that had minimum wages
  • Restaurants had strict grooming, and uniform rules and were focused on “looks”

According to an HBR study, where 162 managers from hotel and lodging departments participated, managers perceived sexual harassment as less negative when done by a customer than by an employee.

A study done on 76 females in the restaurant industry over a three-month period revealed that there were 226 incidents of sexual harassment, which broke down as follows:

  • 112 incidents involved co-workers
  • 29 involved a manager
  • 85 involved customers

The nature of the harassment included:

  • Telling suggestive, sexual stories (49%)
  • Making offensive remarks (46%)
  • Making crude sexual remarks (45%)
  • Making sexist comments (42%)
  • Attempting to discuss sex. (33%)

Servers rarely complained to their managers even though most of them felt uncomfortable and threatened. The reason they didn’t report it was due to fear of retaliation. As a result, both men and women working in the industry have, to a degree, normalized sexual harassment.

Stephen Hans & Associates provides extensive legal experience to business owners regarding employment related issues.

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How to Avoid Boating Accidents: Boats and Personal Watercraft
by cjleclaire
 Law Office of David R.Lewis & Associates
Sep 20, 2018 | 953 views | 0 0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Jet Skis®, WaveRunners® and Other Personal Watercraft (PWC) Have High Accident Rates

Warmer weather and extra daylight hours make summer the perfect time for outdoor sports like boating and personal watercraft recreation. New York State has thousands of freshwater lakes and 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. These statistics do not include access to the Great Lakes or Atlantic Ocean. You are not hard pressed to find a favorite spot in New York for boating or riding your JetSki or WaveRunner.

However, along with this great opportunity for summer fun, comes an equal need to be responsible and act safely. Every year, people in New York die from drowning and water collision accidents.

Statistics Tell the Story

BoatUS reports that people using personal watercrafts (PWCs) experience a higher collision rate than those using any other type of watercraft. PWC collisions are 30 percent of reported boating accidents. PWC collisions also result in more injuries and deaths than any other type of PWC accident. Which is the greater risk for dying in a PWC accident — drowning or blunt force trauma? Blunt force trauma the greater risk.

jet ski accidentsWhy Do PWC Operators Have Higher Accident Rates?

The main reason is inexperience. Most riders involved in PWC accidents lacked instruction or safety education training prior to operating the craft. An estimated 84 percent of PWC accidents involved operators with no training, and 73 percent had ridden for less than an hour when the accident took place.

The age group that is most involved PWC accidents is the 11-20 year old age group. While a parent would never hand the car keys to their 11 year old, nor let them near a car without supervision and a learner’s permit, even when they reached 16, this was not the case with a PWC. In fact, PWC owners were not the ones most involved in accidents. Only 18 percent of PWC owners were in accidents. Owners’ siblings (29 percent) and friends (53 percent) were the most frequent riders involved in PWC accidents.

Inexperience leads to poor judgment and loss of control.

Safety Tips: What to Avoid When Boating or Riding a PWC

Here are some guidelines to avoid when boating or operating a PWC:

  • Avoid speeding
  • Avoid wake jumping and sudden turns
  • Do not loan your PWC to someone who lacks experience and basic boating skills — ensure they’ve taken a safety course first
  • Keep beginning PWC operators away from boating traffic
  • Do not mix alcohol or drugs with operating a PWC or boat
  • Avoid boating without a personal floatation device
  • Do not ride or go boating in bad weather (stormy, high winds, or sudden temperature drops)
  • If you cannot swim, do not ride a PWC or go out on a boat

When Should You Seek Legal Help for a Boating Accident?

When your injuries are serious and you believe another party was at fault, consult with a lawyer and find out about your legal rights.

The Law Offices of David R. Lewis offers a free consultation to discuss your accident and determine whether grounds exist to sue for damages.


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