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The Times
  • 2 new businesses move to Downtown Utica

  • Two empty downtown storefronts are filling up.
    In Franklin Square, Bob Acquaviva and Scott Crossley are starting up Utica Classic Guitars.
    Up the street at 239 Genesee St., Regina Piacentino is opening Bella Regina in the former Chatter Box Deli and Coffee Lounge. Piacentino's restaurant will open Friday, Dec. 27.
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  • Two empty downtown storefronts are filling up.
    In Franklin Square, Bob Acquaviva and Scott Crossley are starting up Utica Classic Guitars.
    Up the street at 239 Genesee St., Regina Piacentino is opening Bella Regina in the former Chatter Box Deli and Coffee Lounge. Piacentino's restaurant will open Friday, Dec. 27.
    A few odds and ends need to be wrapped up this week and then she'll finish moving in.
    "It's a lot to do," she said. "I'm ready to get going, my customers keep calling me and calling me."
    Her former partner in Bella Mia, Kari Asmus, has opened Basil Bluz Bistro at the former Bella Mia site at 15 Auert Ave.
    Asmus' restaurant, which has a jazz and blues theme, opened earlier this month.
    Down in Franklin Square, Bob Acquaviva is back in an old haunt with a new venture.
    The guitarist is managing a new music shop, Utica Classic Guitars, located in the space formerly occupied by New Hartford Advertising Services Inc.
    The store's owner, Scott Crossley, said he wanted to create a hub to help grow the local music scene.
    "I've always loved music," he said. "When I was growing up, we'd go out and see bands every Friday and Saturday night. The cool part about it is that everyone likes some form of music."
    Acquaviva most recently was a partner at Bonamassa Guitars in New Hartford but has a lengthy resume of performance and production work, both locally and nationally.
    "I've never done anything but music," Acquaviva said. "This is my thing, I really love selling retail."
    The pair was drawn to downtown by the recent developments in Bagg's Square and the addition of the Utica Comets.
    "When I was growing up, everything was downtown," Crossley said. "And now there's a good buzz."
    The store will focus on selling quality used guitars, "players' pieces" as well as creating a hub for music fans to gather and discuss everything from guitar strings to bands.
    It also will carry music by local musicians and offer guitar lessons by Tony Touris.
    Acquaviva also has a long history with the building.
    "This building, many years ago used to be my recording studio," Acquaviva said. "That was 1988 to 1999, so I've got a lot of history down here."
    A grand opening is tentatively planned for Jan. 11.

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