Tea steeped in family history, bottled in downtown Albany

ALBANY, NY: A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today, February 16, 2023, for Nani’s Iced Tea’s bottling facility, located at 99 Pine Street in downtown Albany. Joining Owner Maria Gallo and Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Georgette Steffens were Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Congressman Paul D. Tonko’s Grant Coordinator Natalie Lincoln, Senator Neil Breslin, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Counsel to Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy Jeff Jamison, and Gallo’s family members and friends.

Named for her grandmother, Maria Lomonaco Rosano (“Nani”), next to whom Gallo grew up making iced tea, the opening comes 10 years after she began bottling her hand-crafted recipes at Nelson Farms. After that location closed, and finding a reliable bottler became increasingly difficult, the entrepreneur began plans to build out her own facility. When Gallo first toured the 1,200-square-foot Pine Street space, she remembers it was still love at first sight; immediately, she said, she could picture where the equipment, glass bottles, and her desk would be placed. Just outside the "amazing location” her business now inhabits, Gallo was also instantly drawn to the vibe of being in the heart of the Downtown community, and the neighboring entrepreneurs with whom she would quickly develop friendships.  

Fast forward 2 years from that first tour and thanks to her determination and Business for Good funding her machinery, Gallo is currently bottling three flavors – Sweet Mint, Unsweetened, and Dolce Limone – with additional flavors in the works. The new Downtown location can produce 600 jars each hour, and in the coming weeks customers will be able to purchase the teas in Downtown at Miranda’s Deli, located just a few blocks from the bottling facility, with regional locations including Delmar Marketplace, Honest Weight Food Co-op, The Grove Bistro, Bread Basket Bakery, Hattie’s, Ragonese Import, Emack and Bolio’s, Mr. Bumbles Café, Healthy Living, Hooked Seafood, Schenectady Trading Co., Famiglia’s Deli, De Fazio’s Import Store, PDT Market, and more. 

The space itself represents the tenacity it took for the entrepreneur to open her own bottling location, but what is equally notable to Gallo is that she is operating just minutes from where her grandparents owned their own small business on Grand Street. Nani’s Iced Tea, Gallo said, represents the comforting memory of standing next to her grandmother and watching her make tea. While the recipes remain a family secret, Gallo is quick to let everyone know that her teas will never include chemicals or artificial sweeteners; she’s not, she said, willing to jeopardize the integrity of the tea or what the company’s name represents. 

Nani’s Iced Tea Owner Maria Gallo said: “This space is beyond any dream I’ve ever had. I love this building and being in the heart of the Downtown neighborhood, and I am supremely grateful for all of the support I have had leading up to today. To Ed and Lisa Mitzen, I cannot say thank you enough; to all those who’ve walked alongside me since this idea was first born, your encouragement means the world. Nani’s Iced Tea was born from my incredible grandmother, and to all those who have enjoyed a glass of tea, I say welcome to the family!” 

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said: “When we think of downtown Albany, we think of office space and residential units – but we must also think of downtown Albany as a manufacturing hub, and Nani’s Iced Tea is a prime example of why. I congratulate Maria Gallo for having the vision to utilize this space as the new home of her family’s iced tea company and look forward to seeing the further innovations that come from having this family-owned small business in Albany’s newest neighborhood. Thank you as well to Business for Good, Ed Mitzen, and the Downtown BID team led by Georgette Steffens, for helping Maria realize her dream.”

Congressman Paul D. Tonko said: “I’m so pleased to see a brilliant and driven entrepreneur like Maria Gallo bring her business to Albany’s vibrant Downtown.  Maria’s success story is an inspiration for all of us, as she honors her grandmother’s legacy by crafting her one-of-a-kind products just steps from where her grandparents once operated their own small business.  I congratulate Maria on this momentous achievement, and I look forward to seeing how she continues to build her business and her legacy right in the heart of Albany.” 

Senator Neil Breslin said: “Nani’s Iced Tea started in my home town of Delmar and the Gallo family has roots just blocks from here on Grand St. Nani’s Iced Tea has grown so much that they need this additional production facility, bringing the Gallo family back here to downtown Albany." 

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our national, state, and local economies — and Nani’s Iced Tea is no exception. Owner Maria Gallo’s decision to locate in the heart of downtown Albany not only contributes to a growing entrepreneurial and manufacturing community, but draws on her own backstory as the location is near where her grandparents owned their own small business on Grand Street. I look forward to seeing Nani’s Iced Tea’s future success, and thank Maria for her investment right here in the core of the Capital Region; downtown Albany.”

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said: “For small business owners, their work is often a labor of love. However, Maria is taking Nani’s Iced Tea to the next level as she shares her family recipe with the world and makes her grandmother proud. This new bottling facility is a welcome addition to downtown Albany, which continues to grow and thrive. I encourage even more businesses throughout Albany County and the Capital Region to stock their shelves with Nani’s Iced Tea so their customers can enjoy this truly one of a kind beverage.”

Business for Good Co-Founder Ed Mitzen said: “One of the pillars of Business for Good is the belief that no challenge is insurmountable through hard and thoughtful work. Maria embodies the root of our mission, and we are proud to support and help sustain her business venture.”

Downtown Albany BID Executive Director Georgette Steffens said: “Inside the historic architecture that lines our streets are businesses that vary widely across size and industry, but whose owners share one important thing: understanding the value of operating in the walkable, engaging destination that is Albany’s Central Social District. In opening in Downtown, Maria joins an incredible group of entrepreneurs whose dreams have become a reality, and we are thankful for Maria’s investment, determination, and for choosing our neighborhood as she welcomes new members to Nani’s Iced Tea family.” 

Located at 99 Pine Street, for Nani's Iced Tea updates, follow the business on Facebook and Instagram.