SAVORING SUCCESS IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS

KENNETH C. CROWE II STAFF WRITER
Section: Communities,  Page: E6

Date: Thursday, November 27, 2008

TROY -- After 20 years working at National Grid, Lynda Vadnais decided it was time to work for herself.


Vadnais, 45, cast aside her set work schedule, steady salary and benefits as a field customer service representative and dove into the world of food.


She opened Centanni's Market-Italian Deli and Imports in July at 15 Campbell Ave.


"I wanted a career change. I was tired of the corporate world," said Vadnais, who lives near the Emma Willard School.


"I had no idea what it would involve. I never ran a business before," she said.


She worked with the Small Business Administration to lay out a business plan. The one thing she knew was that she wanted to work with food, even though her only exposure to the business was working at a pizzeria as a waitress while attending Hudson Valley Community College a quarter-century ago.


Now, instead of solving utility customer problems, Vadnais is worrying about having enough meatballs for her popular hero sandwiches and keeping quality high as she stakes a position in the city's competitive food industry.


"It was a difficult decision to leave a secure job and a weekly paycheck," Vadnais said.


A.J. Barna, whose family ran Barna's Superette at the Campbell Avenue location for 52 years before closing in 2007, thinks she's doing fine.


"You've got to go where there's good food," said Barna, who eats at Centanni's two or three times a week.


Vadnais named the business after her mother, Maria "Grace" Centanni, who helps out on Saturdays. She found a niche.


"It didn't take long for Barna's old customers and the neighborhood to start coming in,'' said Vadnais.


Obtaining high-quality ingredients is costlier than Vadnais expected. She's committed to keeping to what she wants as she makes her way forward.


Vadnais employs six people and is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday.


"I enjoy what I do. I look forward to coming to work,'' Vadnais said. "I know if I fail or succeed, it's all me."


Kenneth C. Crowe II can be reached at 454-5084 or by e-mail at kcrowe@timesunion.com.


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