On Wednesday, November 16th, BP Oddo awarded Lois and Richard Nicotra with the Maniscalco Award at a ceremony in Borough Hall. The ceremony was followed by a reception in the main hall with fare by the Port Richmond High School Culinary Arts Program and music by the Tottenville High School Saxophone Quartet.
The Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award was established in 1986 in honor of the ninth borough president. Maniscalco's tenure from 1955 to 1965 saw the creation of the Greenbelt and the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The award celebrates the civic-mindedness and tireless energy of individuals or organizations that work to help community members in need and to make Staten Island a better place.
Partners in both life and business, Lois and Richard Nicotra met as undergraduates at St. John’s University before opening their first Everything Yogurt store in Manhattan in 1976. The franchise eventually expanded to 250 stores internationally before they sold it in 2003. They currently own and manage more than 1 million square feet of commercial space and acres of manicured grounds, making them Staten Island’s largest private real estate developers. Nicotra Group properties include a Hilton Garden Inn, a Hampton Inn & Suites, Nicotra’s Ballroom, Above Weddings & Rooftop, several restaurants, performance spaces and office buildings – all located in a 415 acre natural woodland preserve in their Corporate Park of Staten Island. Recognized for environmentally-friendly development, and recipients of the prestigious Arbor Day Award, they founded their nonprofit Bloomfield Conservancy which preserves wetlands and surrounding areas through daily maintenance and public art.
In 2011, the Nicotras established the COMMONS café, a quick-service eatery that donates 100% of its profits to charity. The café has awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to Staten Island nonprofits and scholarships for Nicotra employees’ children. The philanthropic couple has also hosted benefits for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan, raising over $600,000 for those in need. For 20 years, the Nicotras have hosted the Daughters of St. Paul Christmas concerts at which the nuns perform, raising more than $2 million for this small order of self-supporting nuns. Their dedication to Staten Island continues with their next venture, Pienza Pizza, Pasta & Porchetta—a new eatery that will double the grants and scholarships awarded to their native borough.
“I think it’s more important than ever to highlight good people in our community,” BP Oddo said at the ceremony. “Rich and Lois have a keen sense of right and wrong. They constantly do the right thing. What they really should be credited for is not the brick and mortar, but the human infrastructure they’ve built. We are privileged to have them as Staten Islanders.”
“It is surreal to think that our names are engraved in Borough Hall and that we’re included with such esteemed former recipients of the Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award,” said Lois Nicotra. “Rich and I love our borough of Staten Island and, just like Borough President Oddo, we try each day to make it better. We thank you for recognizing our efforts.”
Past winners of the Maniscalco Award:
Richard E. Diamond, John L.F. Sipp, Norma D’Arrigo, Allan Weissglass, Martin Stallone, Roger E. Acker, Reverend Robert I. Gannon, Michael F. Manzulli, Michael J. Petrides, Marie G. Martino, Frank Powers, Susie Hyun Sook Beidel, Brian J. Laline, Reverend Hattie Smith-Davis, and Joseph V. Madory, Lou Caravone, Jose Joe Valentin, Nancy Passeri, retired Borough Commander Anthony Marra, Reverend Terry Troia, Senator John J. Marchi, Wendy Pellegrino, Fred Ariemma, Joanne E. Gerenser, Ph.D., Dr. S. Chitoor Govindaraj, Kathryn Krause Rooney, the Siller Family, George and Maria Esposito, the Mannix Family, the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation and William A. Morris Jr.