01/02/14 12:00pm
01/02/2014 12:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Charlie Manwaring, owner of Southold Fish Market since 2000, purchased the Southold bar/restaurant Sophie’s Rest this past year with Thomas Grattan Jr.

At least once a week, Kim Chilton drops by Southold Fish Market to purchase fresh seafood. Though the fish selection sometimes changes, one thing remains constant: shop owner Charlie Manwaring’s affable disposition.

“You walk in and he always has a great smile, a warm hello, no matter how busy he is,” said Ms. Chilton, a Southold native. “He takes that moment to look up and make eye contact.”

In recognition of his dedication to exceptional customer service and his devotion to the North Fork community, Charlie Manwaring is The Suffolk Times’ 2013 Business Person of the Year.

A lifelong Southold resident who grew up working on the docks with his father, a commercial fisherman, Mr. Manwaring got a job at Southold Fish Market when he was just 12 years old. He took over as owner in his mid-20s, in 2000.

And one year ago, Mr. Manwaring and his business partner, Thomas Grattan Jr., became co-owners of Sophie’s Rest, a Southold bar and restaurant that has long been a popular town haunt.

“Both Tommy and I are revamping the place,” Mr. Manwaring said. “It hasn’t been done in so long that we’re just constantly fixing everything. We make a little money, we fix it; we make a little more money, we fix it. It’s something that’s probably going to be an ongoing thing throughout our whole lives.”

Those who know Mr. Manwaring are quick to comment on his strong work ethic, noting that he regularly puts in 10- to 12-hour days at Southold Fish Market. Longtime employee Nicole Sinning is one such person.

Ms. Sinning first met Mr. Manwaring a decade ago when her father, John Sinning, a commercial fisherman and Southold police officer, secured his then-teenage daughter a part-time job at Southold Fish Market.

“He’s such a hard-working guy,” Ms. Sinning, now 24, said of Mr. Manwaring. “And he was so supportive when I graduated college. I didn’t find a job right away and he said, ‘Work here when you can, at the fish market.’ I would go to the city and up-island for interviews and Charlie was so understanding. He really pushes his staff. He makes us work hard but at the same time he makes us want to succeed in whatever we want to do.”

Though she now works full-time for a media company in Smithtown, Ms. Sinning travels each weekend to work a Sunday shift at Sophie’s Rest.

“He’s just a great guy to work for,” she said.

When he isn’t running Southold Fish Market or making repairs at Sophie’s Rest, Mr. Manwaring is a volunteer firefighter with the Southold Fire Department. He’s also heavily involved with the Southold Baymen’s Association, for which he helps organize a large annual fundraiser.

“He takes care of all the tickets and he’s in charge of the whole dinner,” Southold Fire Department chief Bill Byrnes said. “It’s amazing how it comes together. [The fundraiser] isn’t even advertised anywhere and the tickets sell out within a matter of days.”

Mr. Byrnes, who first met Mr. Manwaring at Southold Fish Market about 15 years ago, described him as a person who’s “always willing to help.”

To illustrate this point, he recalled an incident that occurred a couple years ago, when a small fire broke out in one of the freezers at Braun’s Seafood in Cutchogue.

“Charlie called me up and said ‘What are you hearing?’ ” Mr. Byrnes recalled. “He wanted to know if he should go up there and offer space from one of his freezers. Even though they’re in competition with each other, they help each other out.”

“Charlie does right by everybody,” Ms. Sinning said.

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12/28/13 4:00pm
12/28/2013 4:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | Who will be our Business Person of the Year?

The Suffolk Times will announced its Business Person of the Year in its Jan. 2, 2014 issue.

Here’s a list of people that have won the award since 2000:

• 2012 — Jill Schroeder

• 2011 — Shelley Scoggin

• 2010 — Peconic Landing

• 2009 — Rocky DiVello

• 2008 — John Romanelli

• 2007 — North Fork Press/Academy Printing

• 2006 — Soundview Restaurant and Inn

• 2005 — Joe Frohnhoefer

• 2004 — Dan Damianos

• 2003 — The Arcade

• 2002 — Kate McDowell

• 2001 — Mattituck Chamber of Commerce

• 2000 — The Harbes Family

01/04/13 3:36pm
01/04/2013 3:36 PM

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Jill Schroeder leading a Zumba class at her JABS studio in Mattituck.

Though Jill Schroeder has owned the Mattituck fitness studio JABS for only about a year and a half, she’s been spreading joy Zumba-style for four years now.

The Southold resident leads Zumba classes several times a week at her Pike Street studio, where North Forkers between 6 and 60 years old have come by the dozens to sweat under her instruction.

Zumba is, in essence, an hour-long synchronized dance party. Those who have caught the fever say it’s not just the unique form of exercise that has them smiling, but their chief instructor, who has been named this year’s Business Person of the Year by The Suffolk Times.

“Jill is one of the savviest business owners I’ve ever met in my life,” said friend and customer Marianne Wachtel. “She is extremely professional, but does everything in a personal way. She takes an interest in each and every person who walks through her doors and keeps membership prices low because she wants everyone in the community to participate.”

She added that those who do visit the studio are pampered by the queen bee of Zumba, who provides customers with a clean space to exercise, a stocked bathroom “full of everything a girl needs” and plenty of motivation to achieve fitness goals.

“She gets to know each and every person that walks into her facility and learns quickly about what motivates him or her,” Ms. Wachtel said. “She respects physical limits, while helping her clients discover and unleash an inner strength they didn’t realize they had.”

Ms. Wachtel, who called the certified personal trainer an “absolute arsenal of fitness knowledge,” said it isn’t just Ms. Schroeder’s interest in her customers that makes her such a standout business owner, but her interest in all mankind.

“JABS is a community-based club, so she is at every event that happens and is constantly giving back,” Ms. Wachtel said, citing donated time and money at Southold youngster Camryn Koke’s fundraisers for cystic fibrosis, Shelter Island’s 5K Run/Walk for Breast Cancer and a recent Hurricane Sandy relay race fundraiser held last month in Peconic, where Ms. Schroeder helped raise money and collect donated items for those affected by the storm.

“Henry Ford said, ‘A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.’ That quote always reminds me of JABS and Jill,” Ms. Wachtel said. “It’s so much more than a thriving business. It’s a family.”

The creation of a family environment has led Zumba participants to return Ms. Schroeder’s enthusiasm by volunteering their time and energy at various fundraisers and forming an iron-clad support system for all, including Ms. Schroeder herself.

When she joined the running of Shape magazine’s “Inspirational Zumba Instructor Search,” Ms. Schroeder received the most votes of 400,000 cast in the contest’s first round.

“The community’s support has been amazing,” Ms. Schroeder said at the time. “It just goes to show you how much heart I put into this business.”

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