Anyone who attends an Entrepreneur Night has had one, you imagine. A first job. Partly inspired by this New York Times article, this was the theme of May’s Entrepreneur Night, which took place at Terranova’s – Bunnell’s yellow-painted eatery with the green awning and big, bifurcated oak out front, just off Moody Boulevard.

For an entrepreneur, the experience of a first job is akin to that of a baby taking his or her first steps.

The plan for the month of May was to demonstrate how far all these able-minded individuals have pulled themselves up from where they started.

First jobs are much like first loves, they’re rare, but sometimes the first ones do actually work out. If we’re looking strictly at location, an entrepreneur may never have left the place where he started. Terranova’s owner, Francesco Terranova, better known as Frankie, is a good example. He’s been working in the business started by his father, Frank Sr., which he now owns, for 16 years–since he was 15.

When you have the opportunity to grow and mature in tandem with something like your father’s business, you see a lot. “I’ve seen it take off. I was there for the struggles in the beginning,” Frankie says of the ubiquitous economic stressors that grip any new business. That didn’t dissuade Jr., who had left college twice.

“I always knew I’d have this in the end,” he says. “And I knew my Dad needed my help, and I dedicated my life to it…”

Where’s Frank Sr. now? Lounging on a farm somewhere in Callabria–southern Italy. Maria, Sr.’s sister and Terranova’s manager, is the only one of that generation of siblings who’s American-born. All the others migrated from the old country.

What’s Sr. up to?

“Nothing,” Maria says, flashing her own large Italian smile.

Well, that’s if you consider living a countrified Mediterranean existence nothing. It was a smile of admiration. Frank earned it. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Neither is building up a successful pizzeria when there’re so many. It takes grit. Sr. opened his first pizzeria in New Jersey when he was 18. When he started Terranova’s 20 years ago, it was that same exact concept brought to Palm Coast, before the restaurant moved to Bunnell.

Maria moved here four years ago.

Sr. had said to her at the time, “You come. I’ll leave.” She didn’t believe him–“At all.” It didn’t become real until a moving van arrived with “International Freight” written across its side, Frankie says. Sr. had bought his airline tickets.

Fortunately, Maria had spent a lifetime working in the restaurant business. She doesn’t know why.

“I always ask myself why. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of hours. But I just feel like this is my thing. I enjoy doing it.”

“He just waited until he had good people to run his place,” Maria says of her brother.  “When he has his mind set to do something, he does it.”


First Job: Maria: Cashier

Brygitte Lusinski, co-owner of Chardani Building and Remodeling along with her husband, Charlie, moved to Palm Coast in 2005. This is another immigrant story. It starts with the weather.

“No snow,” she says. “When you get older you are looking for a better place to live, so you don’t have to shovel. And 12 months of good weather,” though as she said this, standing in Terranova’s main dining room, the ovens churning out pie after pie, she was sweating.

Lusinski is from Poland. She moved to the United States when she was 22, and lived in New Jersey for more than 25 years. She and her husband Charlie have been working construction in the United States for 35 years and in Palm Coast since 2008.

While her initial reason for coming might seem banal enough, the after-effects of her arrival have been reverberating. Lusinski was selected 2014’s Flagler Business Woman of the Year.

Most of Chardani’s work happens in Hammock Dunes and Hammock Beach, Lusinski says. It’s primarily remodeling. What she likes about working there, versus in Palm Coast, is that when someone hires her they give her cart blanche of the whole house. In other communities, it’s typically one small feature here, like painting, another there.

This is not only more lucrative, it’s more satisfying creatively. It lets her leave a unifying, cohesive fingerprint. Her design. Her way. It also lets her stay put a while, rather than having her taxi all around Flagler.

How does one compare Palm Coast to Poland?

“You cannot compare Palm Coast to Poland because we were a Communist country. We were under Russia and there was no freedom, no democracy,” she says. “When I left in 1981, you were not allowed to have your own private business.”

You also cannot compare the architecture: European vs Floridian. “American people who never travel will never understand. But people who travel, who go on vacation, who see, will never ask this question,” she says.

First Job: Bookkeeping for her husband in his construction business, after going to school to learn English.

While Lusinski, like Frankie Jr., appears to have chosen or been chosen for her career from the start, Heidi Tassone, of J&H Junk Removal, wasn’t nearly as tidy when it came to taking on this latest venture. It’s what you’d call a dramatic change.

She had risen up in the restaurant industry, starting with her first job: a dishwasher. Eventually, she was elevated to cook, then chef. This was in the St. Augustine area. She and her husband, Joe, alternated between sous chef and cook, always working in the same places, always working together, “Since the minute we met,” she says.

Then 2011 came; everyone where they worked was fired: Anyone who had been working there a long time and made a lot of money got the boot.

“What do we do?” She remembers asking Joe. “We couldn’t get jobs here,” she said of Palm Coast. “We get paid too much money and no one wants to pay,” for them to cook. So they took various lesser jobs wherever they could. She fell into unsatisfactory, underpaying retail work, for example.

 But then a new idea formed. Joe mentioned that he had some family who were involved with a different kind of work, years back, to earn some extra cash. Junk removal.

 “People have excess junk, like most people do, but they’re not going to sell it. In some cases it’s literal junk, not garbage or trash,” she says. (There is a difference.) “With realtors, sometimes people leave all their crap behind.” Of course, they need all of it out.

The job mostly consists of working for different realtors, property managers, or just everyday people. They also pick up yard debris.

It was very hard in the beginning, mainly because people didn’t get it. “No one knew what it was. Everyone thought our service was free,” she says. There was, however, an upside. They were the first junk removal business in Flagler, with the first listing on Google.

“It wouldn’t have been my first choice,” she says. She would’ve preferred making cakes, but there isn’t much of a market here.

“But I love it now,” she says, even more than being a chef. The difference is a matter of geography, in a way.

“When you’re a chef, you don’t meet anyone except the people in the kitchen…They drive you insane.” It’s nice working in front of the house, literally. It’s nice talking with the people.

First Job: Dish Washer

The last time we checked in with Greg Feldman at Entrepreneur Night, it was March 2014, at the Hammock Wine and Cheese shop. He was running for a Florida State Senate seat, District Six, that ultimately he wouldn’t win. You’d be hard pressed to guess what he’s doing now. He’s a partner at Fun Coast Vapors,located at 604 E. Moody Blvd. The space was occupied by a store-front church previously.

In that last interview, Feldman, speaking of his campaign, was banking the “genteel” nature of northeastern Florida culture, versus the one he knew from his time living in Miami. He was doing that again on May’s last Tuesday.

Smoking, not vaping, has been an incendiary and political issue for years. Excluding the occasional cigar, Feldman “never smoked in his life.”

“This is what it’s all about,” he says, revealing the silver cylindrical telescope-looking, lanyard-hanging instrument tucked under his collared shirt. Pulls on it;  releases foamy cloud of vaporized water. His favorite flavor: the appropriately named, “$100 Apple Pie.” Still a politician.

It’s all about the cloud: that’s what you’re exhaling, not actual smoke. Vaporized, all natural juices, which is all Fun Coast uses–all American-made, he says.

“That’s important, because you don’t know what goes in them if they’re not in a controlled lab.” All American labs are under strict guidelines, Feldman says. The smoking cessation tool exists in nicotine and non-nicotine form and it’s more satisfying than an E-Cigarette, because you’ll hold onto it for a longer period of time, he adds. It’s been only in the last six years that vaping instruments have really taken off in the United States, Feldman continues. Internationally, they’ve been popular longer.

Feldman’s political campaign actually led him to the business, specifically, a significant contributor to his campaign team, Frank Cutruzzola. “They were wonderful,” Feldman says of Cutruzzola and his family. They did everything they could for him.

“So we became very good friends,” Feldman says. Personal relationships really do count in politics.

After the election Frank mentioned to Feldman his idea to open a shop. “Bottomline, when he said, ‘I’m going to do this.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m interested. Let’s see what we can come up with.'”

“Frank could explain it a lot better than me,” Feldman says. Feldman himself is the face, the one with the people skills–the salesman.

Cutruzzola’s son was already manufacturing some of the best juice lines in the country. The knowledge base was already there as well.

 “We wound up right around the corner here in Bunnell. Business has been slow but sure. But everyday someone new comes in and goes, ‘I didn’t know you were here!'”

And when that happens, they give a lecture/presentation to any newcomers who enter. Vaping is catching on faster than that of a burning cherry end of a cigarette–Big Tobacco’s sales are starting to feel it, he says.

Recently, Fun Coast had a fundraising event. Ten percent of each sale was donated to the Student Problem Solvers organization. They’re going to try to do one event with at least one charity each month, Feldman adds.

Big Tobacco would hate Feldman for saying so, but, “I think we’re doing something good.”


First Job: Steel Worker.

Lori Genk, an independent agent and Palm Coast representative for the Bailey Health Group, which offers healthy solutions to groups and individuals, usually in the form of health insurance and healthy solutions, wasn’t a traditional entrepreneur at this stage of the game.

Asked about the market here in Palm Coast, she says: “Absolutely. There’s a need here!” People are very confused by the Affordable Care Act and Genk’s job is to help them navigate the maze so that they understand their options. “I take pressure off of folks,” she says.

Her challenge is that there’s just so much misinformation out there, but even more than that: “I think it’s more just confusion when going onto the government website, ‘Is this me? Does this relate to me?'”

The Medicare arena is another one in which folks need a lot of explaining and dissuading from the idea that this stuff is evil, or other similar hearsay from their neighbors, she adds.

“I tell them don’t worry about anyone else’s knowledge. Worry about your own knowledge…”

This isn’t something that just anyone can pick up. To truly understand what you’re talking about, you need to have been in the industry for at least a couple of years, Genk says, as the rules change periodically. She’s been in the thick of it since completing graduate school in 1984. (She’d also been a vice president in a major corporation, a goal she set in high school, intending to achieve it by age 40, which she did.)

She jumped ship and became an agent again after moving to Palm Coast, with the realization that she’s reaching retirement age and she wanted to get back to working with people.

“There’s a certain amount of talent involved,” particularly in the senior market, “which requires a little more hand-holding. They really need to understand what they’re getting into.”  This requires an ability to teach. No one is leaving Genk without this understanding.

It’s about being able to articulate this complex information in simple, easy-to-understand language.
“And not many agents understand that,” she says. “I’ve gotten with a lot of folks who’ve got advantage plans but didn’t really understand what they were getting.”

First Job: Retail: Jewelry Store.

* * *

And so ended another evening of commingling individuals of disparate businesses and ventures.

Yet again, one common feature that united them all: first jobs and simple starts. The way it should be.




Entrepreneur Night is a grassroots event for and by Entrepreneurs, which takes place the last Tuesday of each month – except July, August, and December at a different location and venue. It is free to attend. Complimentary appetizers are provided by the venue hosting the event as well as a cash bar. In each event you can expect to meet many new entrepreneurs, investors and service providers; and have meaningful conversations. You can check out the previous Entrepreneur Night events | or RSVP to the Next Entrepreneur Night EventSMDAYPC-Christie-Cupcakes