The Throggs Neck Merchants Association has matured into a formidable force in northeast Bronx economics over the past four years, and at its dinner dance, the organization honored three individuals who help make that so.
The TNMA handed out the awards at its fourth annual event on Thursday, October 20 at Villa Barone Manor. Tara Lane of Guys and Dolls Hair Salon was given the Businesswoman of the Year award. Peter Spoto of Spoto’s Restaurant was named Businessman of the Year and Margaret Arrighi, executive director of the Bronx Business Alliance, was recognized with the Excellence Award.
Winners were selected by members of the TNMA through a several-months long nomination and voting process.
“They’re great recipients this year,” said founding TNMA president John Cerini. “Lane has been one of the biggest supporters if the TNMA. She’s been at Guys and Dolls for over 25 years , so far as longevity, you know you’re dealing with people who know their stuff. They’re not rookies at this.”
Cerini was officially succeeded as TNMA president by former assemblyman Stephen B. Kaufman on Wednesday, October 26. Cerini will serve as the organization’s treasurer. Previous treasurer Billy Tsibidis, owner of Crosstown Diner, stepped down to focus more on his business.
Spoto hosted the very first TNMA meeting at his restaurant in May, 2007. Cerini said that having the initial meeting at such a high-end establishment gave the group momentum that has helped it thrive today.
“Pete got us some respect that day,” Cerini said. “Had we met in the basement of some hall, it wouldn’t have had the same effect.”
Spoto was quick to point out that he does not do everything on his own.
“I have an entire family behind me,” he said “So it was a chance for my family to get honored.”
Lane, 47, knew all her life that she wanted to be a hairstylist, but only after plying her trade in Manhattan for three years after graduating from beauty school in the 1970s did she know that she wanted to come back and do it in the Bronx.
“The city wasn’t home for me,” she said. “I wanted to be in the Bronx.”
She started working at Guys and Dolls in the early 80s. She became a partner in the early 1990s, and by the mid-90s she was a co- owner. The salon has had several different location, but it moved to Throggs Neck six years ago.
Arrighi has been working with the TNMA since 2006, and her business expertise went a long way in getting the organization up and running.
“When we started, she came out with her staff and went door to door to every merchant in the strip and basically gave every merchant a survey to fill out,” Cerini said. “At least 100 were completed and from there we saw an interest in getting the TNMA off the ground.”
Years later, Arrighi, is proud to see how far the TNMA has come.
“It’s an honor to be honored,” she said. “I appreciate them giving me an award, but it’s really true working together. That’s how great things happen.”
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394.