The 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.
“Recently, Rich and Lois were voted the No. 1 most influential Staten Islanders. And while it is true that their economic efforts have positively impacted Staten Island, their value and importance is best measured by the positive influence they have had over the lives of so many individuals. When you measure them in such a manner, you can truly see how they embody the concept that our lives should be about something bigger than ourselves,” noted BP Oddo. “The presence of Rich and Lois Nicotra would be of enormous benefit to any community in America—and we are well and truly blessed that community, by the grace of God, turned out to be Staten Island. Rich and Lois, we applaud you, we thank you, and we are honored to bestow upon you the Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award.”
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.
Richard Nicotra said, "Lois and I love Staten Island, and we are so proud of our borough. To know that our borough is proud of us is a recognition we treasure—we are deeply grateful to Borough President Oddo for selecting us for the Maniscalco Award. We have our names on our nine buildings on South Avenue, and we endeavor to do good things throughout the borough with the profits from our COMMONS cafè, but to have our names listed permanently at Borough Hall is significant. This means our borough believes in us—and that's beautiful, because we have always believed in Staten Island."
Here are the 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.