Subscriber login

Welcome to our new site. You will need to reset your password if this is your first time logging in. Please click here to reset your password.
Business
School Closings
Academy at Rensselaer Education Ctr: Delayed 2 HrsAcademy of the Holy Names: Delayed 2 HrsAchievements & Kids Express Mplwood: Delayed 2 Hrs, no before careAchievements St Kateri Tekakwitha: Delayed 2 HrsAchievements and Kids Express TBGC: Delayed 2 HrsAdirondack Enrichment: Delayed Until 12:30pAesthetic Science Institute: Delayed 2 Hrs, Classes begin at 11 amAlbany Leadership Charter High: Delayed 2 HrsAmbleside School: ClosedAmsterdam City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastAmsterdam Head Start: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportAn Nur Islamic School: Delayed 2 HrsAndes CSD: Delayed 2 HrsArgyle CSD: Delayed 2 HrsArkville Head Start: ClosedAugustine Classical Academy: ClosedAustin's School of Spa Technology: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportAverill Park CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESAverill Park Pre School: Delayed 3 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, No AM PgmBallston Spa CSD: Delayed 2 HrsBattenkill Community Services: Closed, Hockey game still on, will call with timesBennington County Meals: Open, Home delivery delayed Cafe openBerkshire Country Day School: Delayed 2 HrsBerlin CSD: Delayed 2 HrsBerne-Knox-Westerlo CSD: Closed, Offices are closed.Best Fitness (Schenectady): Delayed, No Morning Classes, Club Open No morning classes classes resume 430pBethlehem CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESBethlehem Children's School: Delayed 2 HrsBishop Maginn HS: Delayed 2 HrsBluebirds' Nest Preschool: ClosedBroadalbin-Perth CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No Breakfast, No PTECH, AgTECH, TEC-SMARTBrown School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Morning PLUS ProgramBrunswick (Brittonkill) CSD: Delayed 2 HrsBrunswick Children's Academy: Delayed 2 HrsBurnt Hills-Ballston Lake CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, 2-hour delay (final)Butterfly Dreams Daycare: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 9:30 amCOARC Adult Transportation: Delayed 2 HrsCairo-Durham CSD: ClosedCalvary Preschool: ClosedCanajoharie CSD: Closed, No PM ActivitiesCapital Reg Career & Tech (Albany): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESCatholic Central HS: Delayed 2 HrsCatholic Schools Office: Delayed 2 Hrs, Principals Meeting at 10:30Catskill CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KCatskill Mt. Christian Academy: ClosedCenter For Early Learning: ClosedChatham CSD: Delayed 2 HrsChatham Kids Club: Delayed 2 Hrs, Open at 8:30Childhood Friends Inc.: Delayed, We will open at 9:00am for All children today!Christ Our Light Catholic Church: Delayed 2 Hrs, Office opening & Adoration delayed 2 hrs. Morning services cancelledChrist the King Early Childhood Ctr: Delayed 2 Hrs, All programs open @ 9:30 AMChristian Brothers Academy: ClosedCircle Of Friends (Delmar): Delayed 2 Hrs, Wrap around delayed 2 hoursCircle of Friends (Ravena): Delayed 2 Hrs, 2.5 hour class is closed 5 hour classes delayedClifton Park Nursery School: Delayed 1 HrCobleskill Campus Child Care Center: Delayed 2 Hrs, Open at 9AMCobleskill-Richmondville CSD: Closed, Offices Open at 9 a.m.Cohoes City SD: Delayed 2 HrsColonie Youth Centers: Open, No BSPColumbia Christian Academy: Delayed 2 HrsCommunity Library Cobleskill, NY: ClosedCooperstown CSD: Closed, No AM BOCES, School is now CLOSED.Corinth CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastCoxsackie-Athens CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastCrossFit Schenectady: Delayed, No Morning ClassesCrossroads Center for Children: Delayed 2 Hrs, Day Care open @ 9:00Crown Point CSD: Delayed 2 HrsDay Nursery (S Glens Falls): Delayed Until 12:35pDelaware Academy CSD at Delhi: Delayed 2 HrsDoane Stuart School: Delayed 2 HrsDolgeville CSD: Closed, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastDoors of Hope: Delayed 1 HrDuanesburg CSD: ClosedEarly Childhood Learning Ctr: ClosedEarly Childhood Education Center: Delayed 2 HrsEarly Childhood Education Ctr-Troy: Delayed 2 HrsEast Greenbush CSD: Delayed 2 HrsEco Baby Daycare & Preschool: Delayed 2 HrsEdinburg Common SD: Delayed 2 HrsExecutive Woods Childcare: Delayed 2 HrsFaith Bible Academy: Delayed 2 HrsFirst Friends Nursery School: Delayed, No AM Program, Enrichment program begins at 1130amFonda-Fultonville CSD: ClosedFort Plain CSD: Closed, Elem recognition breakfast moved to ThursdayFranklin County Technical SD: Delayed 2 HrsFulmont St Johnsville Head Start: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportFulton County Office for Aging: Open, No Transportation, No Social Adult Day Care No Home Delivered Meals Meal Sites ClosedFulton-Montgomery CC: Delayed 2 Hrs, Campus will open at 10 am.Gabriel Abbott Memorial School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No morning daycareGalway CSD: Delayed 2 HrsGeorge Washington School: Delayed 2 HrsGermantown CSD: Delayed 2 HrsGilboa-Conesville CSD: ClosedGlens Falls City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESGlens Falls Common SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastGlens Falls Head Start Center: Delayed 2 HrsGloversville City SD: Delayed 2 HrsGood Ground Christian School: ClosedGrapeville Christian School: ClosedGreen Island UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastGreen Tech High Charter School: Delayed 2 HrsGreenberg Child Care Center: Delayed Until 9:30aGreenbush Child Caring: Open, No AM ProgramGreene County Nutrition Program: Closed, Athens, Catskill, Coxsackie Congregates & Homebound ClosedGreene County YMCA: Open, No Morning ClassesGreenfield Public Schools: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KGreenville CSD: ClosedGreenwich CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESGuilderland CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESHFM BOCES Adult Literacy: Delayed, ALZ opens @ 10am GLZ opens @ 10amHFM Career & Tech Center: Delayed 2 HrsHadley-Luzerne CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastHansel & Gretel Nursery School: ClosedHappy Kids Day Care Center: Delayed 2 HrsHawthorne Valley School: Delayed 2 HrsHebrew Academy - Capital District: Delayed 2 HrsHelderberg Christian School: ClosedHelping Hands Pre-School: Delayed, No Morning ClassesHoly Spirit School (East G'Bush): Delayed 2 HrsHometown Health Center: Delayed 2 HrsHoosick Falls CSD: Delayed 2 HrsHope 7 Community Center: Open, 9am-6pm, Reg. After School Food Pantry Open9:30a-11:45Hudson City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No Breakfast, No tutoring centerHunter-Tannersville CSD: ClosedIchabod Crane (Kinderhook) CSD: Delayed 2 HrsImmaculate Conception (Glenville): Open, 9:00 am mass cancelledIndian Lake CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No BreakfastInlet Common SD: Delayed 2 HrsJefferson CSD: ClosedJohnstown City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESJubilee Child Day Care Center: Delayed 2 HrsKid Kampus: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 8:30AMKidsFirst Childcare Center: Delayed 2 HrsKim's Kids Daycare: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastKingsbury Seventh-day Adventist Sch: Delayed 2 HrsKingston City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, Kingston SD is on a 2 hr delay no AM BOCESLa Salle Institute (Troy): Delayed 2 HrsLakeside Nursery School: Delayed, No AM Pre-SchoolLansingburgh CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Breakfast, Lansingburgh CSD is operating on a 2 hour delayLatham Christian Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM KLearning To Know Educational Center: Delayed 1-1/2 HrsLexington Center Fulton Co ARC: Open, No TransportationLiberty Ent/ Montgomery Co. ARC: Delayed 2 HrsLife Kids Before/ After School: Open, No AM ProgramLifeSong Inc (Saratoga): Delayed 1 HrLifeSong Inc (Schenectady): Delayed 1 HrLifeSong Inc. (Albany): Delayed 1 HrLifeSong Inc. (Rensselaer): Delayed 1 HrLil' Lambs Christian Daycare Inc.: Delayed 2 HrsLit'l Steps Pre-School: Closed, No AM Pre-KLittle Feet Daycare Center: Delayed 2 HrsLittle Tot Nursery School: Closed, No AM Pre-KLiving Res DCOP (Albany): Delayed 1 HrLiving Res DCOP (Rensselaer): Delayed 1 HrLiving Res DCOP (Saratoga): Delayed 1 HrLiving Res DCOP (Schenectady): Delayed 1 HrLong Lake CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastLoudonville Christian School: Delayed 2 HrsMalta Montessori School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Toddler Class, No Toddler ClassMargaretville CSD: ClosedMayfield CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastMechanicville City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastMekeel Christian Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-SchoolMenands UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastMiddleburgh CSD: ClosedMillbrook CSD: Delayed 2 HrsMohawk Trail Regional SD: Delayed 2 HrsMohonasen CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESMontessori School (Schenectady): Delayed, No AM Program, opens at noon, School will open at noon for PM programming.Montgomery County Office for Aging: Delayed 2 Hrs, Advisory Council cancelledMorning Star Learning Center: Delayed 2 Hrs, stay tuned, be safeMother Teresa Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pgm, No am nursery program, School opens at 9:45amMountain Road School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Before School Care.Mt Moriah Academy: Delayed 2 HrsMyers Education Center: Delayed 2 Hrs, 12 month offices 2 hour delayN. Greenbush Little Red School: Delayed 2 HrsNew Lebanon CSD: Delayed 2 HrsNew Paltz CSD: Delayed 2 HrsNewmeadow at Malta: Delayed 2 HrsNewmeadow at Queensbury: Delayed 2 HrsNiskayuna CSD: Delayed 2 HrsNorth Colonie CSD: Delayed 2 HrsNorthville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastNotre Dame-Bishop Gibbons: Delayed 2 HrsO.K. Kids, Inc.: Delayed 2 HrsOak Hill School: Delayed 2 HrsOhav Shalom Nursery School: Delayed, No AM Program, No am care for Ohav Shalom school starts at 930 staff report 900 amOnteora CSD: Closed, No AM BOCESOppenheim-Ephratah-St Johnsville SD: ClosedOur Lady Queen of Peace (Rotterdam): Open, Faith Formation classes cancelled dut to closing of Schalmont SchoolsOur Lady of Victory Early Childhood: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KOur Savior's Lutheran School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM Pre-SchoolOur World Montessori: Delayed 2 Hrs, Open at 10:45 a.m.Owen D. Young CSD: Closed, No AM BOCESPark Avenue Nursery School: ClosedParsons Early Head Start Day Care: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff report at 9:00 AMParsons Early Learning Center: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff report at 9:00 AMPerth Bible Christian Academy: Delayed 2 HrsPine Plains CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESPineview Comm Church Pre-School: Delayed 1 Hr, open at 8:30Princetown Evangelical Presbyterian: Closed, Potluck & Prayer cancelled RockLife cancelledProspect Center: Delayed 2 HrsPumpkin Patch (Albany): Delayed 2 HrsQueensbury UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESQuestar III BOCES - Sarah's Sisters: Delayed 2 HrsQuestar III Catskill Academy: Delayed 2 HrsQuestar III Columbia-Green Ed Ctr: Delayed, No AM BOCES, 2 HR DelayQuestar III Rensselaer Academy: Delayed 2 HrsQuestar III Rensselaer Edu Ctr: Delayed 2 Hrs, Q3 New Vision is closedQuestar III Sackett Educational Ctr: Delayed 2 HrsRavena-Coeymans-Selkirk CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESRed Hook CSD: Delayed 2 HrsRensselaer City SD: Delayed 2 HrsRhinebeck CSD: Delayed 2 HrsRiverRun Community Montessori: ClosedRoots and Wings Montessori: Delayed 2 Hrs, No before care. Open 9:30Rosa Venerini Early Childhood Cente: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pgm, No am classes or beforecare School opens at 11amRoxbury CSD: Closed, No AM Pre-KSacred Heart School (Troy): Delayed 2 Hrs, TSL will open at 9:00amSalem CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastSaratoga Academy Arts & Science: Delayed 2 HrsSaratoga Bridges: Delayed 1 HrSaratoga Central Catholic HS: Delayed 2 HrsSaratoga County Senior Meals: ClosedSaratoga Independent School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No Before CareSaratoga Springs City SD: Delayed 2 HrsSaugerties CSD: Delayed 2 HrsSchalmont CSD: Closed, Level 1 ClosureSchenectady City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KSchenectady Jewish CC Day Care: Delayed, Opening at 8:30 amSchenevus CSD: ClosedSchodack CSD: Delayed 2 HrsSchoharie CSD: ClosedSchoharie Career and Technical Scho: ClosedSchoharie County ARC: Open, Buses on Snow Routes, Staff report regular time Public bus aides report regular timeSchoharie County Com. Action Prg.: ClosedSchoharie Cty Child Dvp Cobleskill: Closed, No AM Pre-K, No AM Head Start, HS & EHS closedSchoharie Cty HeadStart (Schoharie): Closed, HS & EHS closedSchool's Out, Inc.: Open, No AM ProgramSchuylerville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastScotia-Glenville CSD: Delayed 2 HrsSharon Springs CSD: ClosedShenendehowa CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM BOCESShooting Stars Nursery & After Sch.: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, Will open at 9amSkidmore Early Childhood Center: Delayed, No AM Pre-SchoolSouth Colonie CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESSouth Glens Falls CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESSouthern Adirondack Edu Ctr: Delayed 2 Hrs, 12 month offices 2 hour delaySouthern Berkshire Regional SD: ClosedSpa Christian School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM Pre-KSpotted Zebra Learning Center: Delayed 2 Hrs, SZ opens at 9:30 Program begins at 10:30 K Program begins at 11:00St Ambrose School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM PgmSt Anne Institute: Delayed 1-1/2 Hrs, Staff Report, No Trans, No school for day service StudentsSt Clement's Regional Catholic Sch: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM Pre-SchoolSt Edward's Church: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Mass and morning activitiesSt George's School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, AEP will begin at 11 amSt Gregory School: ClosedSt Jude the Apostle School: Delayed 2 HrsSt Kateri Tekakwitha School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pgm, No BreakfastSt Madeleine Sophie Pre-School: Delayed 2 HrsSt Madeleine Sophie School: Delayed 2 HrsSt Mary's Academy (Hoosick Falls): Delayed 2 HrsSt Mary's Church (Crescent): Delayed, No morning MassSt Mary's Institute ES (Amsterdam): Delayed 2 HrsSt Mary's School (Ballston Spa): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, Before Care open at 8:00 amSt Mary's School (Waterford): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KSt Mary's-St Alphonsus Rgnl Cath: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Pre-K No AM Camp KerrySt Mary's/St Alphonsus Noah's Ark: Delayed 2 Hrs, Open at 9:45St Paul's Childhood Center: Open, No AM Pre-K, Part-day room closed only. Extended-day rooms open.St Pius X School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KSt Stephen's Pre-K Acad (Delmar): Closed, No preschool today. After school enrichments are on until further notice.St Thomas the Apostle School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KStepping Stone Pre & DCC (Albany): Delayed 2 HrsStillwater CSD: Delayed 2 HrsStory Place Preschool: Delayed, Open at 10, before care closedStorybook Academy: ClosedSullivan BOCES: Closed, Offices will open at 10 amSunshine Kids Corner: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 9AMSusan Odell Taylor School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No coffee hourTLC Christian Day Care: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastTaconic Hills CSD: Delayed 2 HrsTech Valley High School: Closed, Staff report at 10 AM.Temple Israel Nursery and Day Care: Open, No early drop off School starts at 9:00The Albany Academies (AA & AAG): ClosedThe Beagle School: Delayed, No AM Pre-K, No AM Pre-School, All AM programs closedThe Downtown School: Delayed 2 HrsThe Hyde Collection: Delayed 2 HrsThe Kid's Place Preschool: Delayed 1 HrThe King's School: ClosedTiny Tots Early Learning Center: Closed, No AM Pre-School, No AM Preschool PM TBDTri-Village Nursery School: ClosedTroy City SD: Delayed 2 HrsTroy Prep: Delayed 2 HrsTwin Valley Elementary School: Delayed 2 HrsTwin Valley Middle High School: Delayed 2 HrsUMC Daycare Norton Hill: Delayed 1 Hr, No AM Pre-KUnlimited Potential, Inc: Delayed 1 HrUpstate Transit: Delayed 2 HrsVictory Christian Academy: ClosedVoorheesville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastWSWHE BOCES - Gick Road: Delayed 2 Hrs, 12 moth offices 2 hour delayWWAARC—Albany & Queensbury: Delayed 1 Hr, Staff Report Regular TimeWaldorf School (Saratoga Springs): Delayed 2 Hrs, No 2 day PreKWarren Street Academy - The Bridge: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastWashington County Nutrition Program: Closed, No Senior Meal Sites ; No Home Delivered MealsWaterford-Halfmoon UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastWatervliet City SD: Delayed 2 HrsWebutuck (Northeast) CSD: Delayed 2 HrsWesley Evergreen Adult Day Program: Delayed 2 HrsWest Canada Valley CSD: ClosedWheelerville UFSD: ClosedWhispering Pines (Cobleskill): ClosedWhispering Pines - Schoharie UPK: ClosedWhispering Pines Pre Sc (Amsterdam): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KWhispering Pines Pre-sch (Delanson): ClosedWhispering Pines Presch - Boulevard: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KWhispering Pines Preschool at Meco: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KWilton Baptist Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM KWindham-Ashland-Jewett CSD: ClosedWonderland Nursery School: ClosedWoodland Hill Montessori School: Delayed 2 Hrs, Delayed 2 hours . No early care. No toddler AM session, delayed 2 hours. No early care. No toddler AM sessionWorcester CSD: ClosedWynantskill UFSD: Delayed 2 HrsYMCA (Bethlehem): Open, No Morning ClassesYMCA (East Greenbush): Open, No Morning Classes, Child Watch opens at 9am, Before School Care 6:45amYMCA (Greater Glenville): Open, No AM classes before noon.. No babysitting before noon.YMCA (Guilderland): Open, No AM Pre-School, No Morning Classes, No AM branch childcareYMCA (Schenectady): Open, No Morning Classes, Child Watch Closed for AMYMCA (Troy): Open, No Morning Classes, Child Watch opens at 9amYMCA Southern Saratoga: Open, No Morning ClassesYWCA of Schenectady Children's Ctrs: Delayed, YWCA child care @SCCC delay Until 8am. WA site delayed Until 9amYWCA of the Greater Capital Region: Delayed 2 Hrs

From Russia with a Love ... of sausage

From Russia with a Love ... of sausage

You can smell the Bilinski sausage factory before you’re actually inside the sprawling building off
From Russia with a Love ... of sausage
Bilinski Sausage Mfg. Co. employee Sal Rivera arranges a rack of chicken sausages, before the smokehouse in the production area at Bilinski’s in Cohoes.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

You can smell the Bilinski sausage factory before you’re actually inside the sprawling building off Lark Street in Cohoes.

And if you’ve never been inside a sausage factory, the whole experience can be a bit overwhelming to the senses. But if you really want to put your sense of smell into overdrive, just ask to see the smokehouse.

“All the way back,” said Stacie Waters, company president. “There’s sausage as far back as you can see.”

In this room, there are three smokehouses and two steam cabinets. The air is thick and the smell is pungent — and in no way is that a bad thing. Aromas of red pepper, garlic, onions, meats, salts and any number of other herbs and spices waft throughout the building, but here the heat and smoke intensifies each of them.

Bilinski’s has survived and thrived for more than 80 years now in this spot. Founded by Joseph Bilinski and his children in 1929, it would be more than five decades before a new family — the Schonwetters — took the helm. Since then, they have expanded the business from a small regional company selling Old World-style meats to a national brand known for its pioneering and all-natural, certified organic foods.

The family that snatched up Bilinski’s when the Bilinskis wanted to sell had several generations’ worth of food industry experience that began overseas in Russia. The Schonwetters transplanted a food store business to an old Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn during the 1920s, before growing tired of metropolitan life and moving to Schenectady.

“It was a thriving city, and so they opened a store — Orlev Import — like the one they had in the city,” said Bilinski’s CEO Steve Schonwetter, 58, of his grandfather’s venture.

Steve and his father, Abe, both grew up stacking the shelves and running a warehouse at Orlev.

New direction

Several years after the Schonwetters bought Bilinski’s in 1983, Abe Schonwetter had a heart attack that changed the way the family did business.

“He was in the hospital at St. Clare’s and he threw me a brochure that they gave him,” recalled Steve Schonwetter. “He said, ‘Read this, Steve. It’s going to put you right out of business.’”

The brochure advised heart attack patients to avoid red meats, stay away from bologna, liverwurst, hot dogs and kielbasas — practically all the foods the family had made a living on. The younger Schonwetter couldn’t believe it.

“I said, ‘Oh my god, dad, this is crazy,’ ” he recalled, noting that people weren’t as knowledgeable in 1990 about the link between red meat and heart disease.

From that point forward, the Schonwetters worked feverishly to come up with a product line that doctors weren’t telling people to avoid. They formed a committee that met once a week and talked about possible healthy options — lean beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and so on. Sausage really just had to be some form of ground meat. Still, at one point they even contemplated producing entirely meatless products. They made prototypes, tested them, had their families try them.

The consensus? Everyone loved the chicken sausage.

“And we were the first,” said Steve Schonwetter.

Today, chicken sausage is Bilinski’s mainstay product. It was tasty, so it was easy to market. Nobody else was making chicken sausage, so it was easy to distribute. Eventually, it’s what launched the company from a regional operation to a national distributor.

The Schonwetters pride themselves on the health and quality of their products, which are free of antibiotics, nitrite, gluten and animal casings. Most food processors that label their food “all natural” abide by basic USDA standards.

“This means it’s minimally processed and there’s no preservatives,” said Waters, company president and Steve Schonwetter’s 36-year-old daughter. “The standard that we use for all our natural products is that the chicken has to be raised without the use of antibiotics and it has to be fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet. It’s a higher degree of ‘all natural’ because it means the meat you’re eating was also raised naturally, not just made naturally.”

Amish suppliers

Today, 95 percent of Bilinski products are natural and certified organic, with the bulk of their meat coming from the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pa., where chickens roam in open spaces and get natural sunlight.

The other side of the Bilinski’s success story is in the details. Literally.

Inside the “kitchen,” about a half-dozen Bilinski’s employees in white coats, hair caps, boots and gloves go about their usual routine. A batter of ground chicken, spinach and garlic are dumped from a steel pot into a machine called the “stuffer,” which stuffs the sausage through 31-millimeter holes and into artificial casing that will eventually be removed.

Bilinski’s makes about 20 different flavors of sausage — from the popular spinach and garlic to mild Italian to apple chardonnay to breakfast sausage. Workers hang up to 84-foot-long strands of sausage links on racks, which are rolled to the smokehouse and eventually chilled, packaged, labeled and delivered. But each time a batch is made inside the kitchen, every machine is rinsed, washed and sanitized.

The kitchen’s red brick floor is often covered in water, but it’s hardly a problem when the company has achieved Safe Quality Food 2000 certification, said Waters.

“We have the highest level of food safety certification there is,” she said. “It’s really hard to get and not a lot of people have it.”

Steve Schonwetter attributes the tight control and safety measures to his daughter, who has a rather unorthodox background.

Much like her dad, Waters grew up in the food processing business and worked weekends and summers in the family business. She worked for several years doing sales and marketing in the high-tech computer industry before pursuing a graduate degree in international relations and security studies. It was then that she moved to Washington, D.C., as a military consultant on countering weapons of mass destruction.

If the military teaches anything, it’s protocol. And Waters brought the experience back with her to the Capital Region in 2004.

“I joined again full time,” she said. “I had grown up in the business, which for me, has always been a multigenerational thing and it’s something I’ve come to love and always had an interest in.”

Her parents were also glad to have her back, as they were looking to plan for the future of the company.

Schonwetter and Waters declined to disclose annual revenue figures for the company, but said it’s grown 20 percent each year for the last four years.

Bilinski products are well-known around the Capital Region, in the grocery aisles at ShopRite and Price Chopper, the Niskayuna Co-Op and others. The company also distributes to clients across the nation, and is particularly popular in the South and Midwest.

The father-daughter team has set a new goal for the 25,000-square-foot plant in Cohoes.

“We’ve kind of been a smaller company for a while, but we have aggressive plans to at least double our size in the next couple of years,” said Schonwetter. “And we’re adding new product lines and people and structure to make that happen.”

Bilinski’s recently debuted two new product lines: Cathie’s Kitchen and Skinny Sizzlers. And the Schonwetters invested $200,000 six months ago on machinery to begin making a line of Bilinski gluten-free meatballs, which will hit the market in a few weeks.

“We don’t want to make and sell things that we don’t believe in ourselves,” said Waters. “And we didn’t really eat old European-style sausages at home. It’s so much more fulfilling to make something that you really believe in.”

Schonwetter said it’s not that hard to do in the food business.

“They’re just simple, everyday ingredients,” he said. “Our philosophy is if it’s not something you would every day use in your kitchen, you’ll never find it in one of our products.”

View Comments
Hide Comments
You have 0 articles 1 articles 2 articles 3 articles 4 articles 5 articles 6 articles 7 articles remaining of Daily Gazette free premium content.

You have reached your monthly premium content limit.

Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber.
Already a subscriber? Log In