Print Edition

  Email News Updates

Canal Side Café & Bistro is a story of perseverance & more

By Mark Pitonzo


Canal Side Café owner Eric Maliszewski, center, with members of his kitchen staff. (PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC MALISZEWSKI)

BALDWINSVILLE — Everyone has a past — some are good, and some are not as good. But whatever you’ve gone through, translating your background and experience to shape and position your business can be transformative. 

Eric Maliszewski was able to translate his skills and experience into ownership of the Canal Side Café & Bistro, located at 23 Syracuse St. in the heart of the village of Baldwinsville. While Eric’s story may not be completely unique, it is a story about progression, perseverance, patience, and opportunity. 

Entering the workforce can be challenging in any field but especially in one as competitive as the culinary world. Maliszewski dove in at a young age without any formal training. When he was just 14 years old, he began working with his father in the family restaurant in downtown Syracuse. At that time, his father owned the Trolley Stop Diner, which was adjacent to Syracuse City Hall. Eric worked diligently in learning the business beside his dad at the diner and with him in their food carts that provided food and beverages for many festivals in downtown Syracuse.

Over time, Eric honed his practical skills in the food industry as a banquet chef for 13 years at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse and four years as the head chef at 916 Riverside (formerly known as Castaways) on the shores of Oneida Lake. 

While Maliszewski has a great deal of experience in the food industry, he also has other talents. Eric has played bass guitar and been a part of the music and entertainment industry since 2003, which allowed him to travel across the country. 

When opportunity knocked earlier this year, Maliszewski was ready, willing, and able to make his mark. He purchased and transformed the Canal Walk Café into the Canal Side Café & Bistro. Maliszewski has 17 employees that work for him in various capacities at the café. 

Eric notes that he couldn’t accomplish this without the help of both his family and the Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC). 

“I needed help understanding my options as a business entity, business plan development, financial projections, and securing working capital for renovations and new equipment. Onondaga SBDC advisor Mark Pitonzo provided me with important insights and guidance overcoming hurdles, avoiding ‘speed bumps’ and helped show me the way toward pursuing my dream and securing my own business,” Maliszewski says.

He adds, “I’m just a local guy that wants to cook great food, provide great friendly service, and share it with the community.” Eric lives that mantra as he regularly donates food to Meals on Wheels of Baldwinsville. 

During a recent visit to his café, laughter and pleasant conversation could be heard throughout the café. I spoke to several retired schoolteachers who were dining there one morning. They told me that the café is “a staple in the community, providing a friendly, wonderful atmosphere with great food that is reasonably priced.” They noted that the chefs at the café are very accommodating with personalized service. According to the sign on Maliszewski’s door, his café is open “Every Day, All Year Round” . . . and his customers couldn’t be more pleased. 

For more information on the Canal Side Café & Bistro, visit its Facebook page at

Advisor Business Tip: Small-business success is often the result of hard work and establishing a business plan. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with a business that you’re most passionate about, be sure to formalize it in a business plan. It will help you navigate through the process with more confidence and precision.      

Mark Pitonzo is a business advisor at the Small Business Development Center’s Liverpool satellite office, located at Onondaga Community College @ Liverpool. Contact him at

Thank You For Visiting