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Signs of Life in Gastonia 

A vibrant cultural scene is taking shape in Charlotte's misunderstood neighbor. No, seriously.

Page 4 of 6

Enlightened esquire: Arcangela Mazzariello

Attorney Arcangela Mazzariello (Arc to her friends) has worn many hats over the years. Prior to earning her law degree and taking the bar, she held down jobs at New York's Silvercup Studios (the folks who brought you Sex in the City and When Harry Met Sally), taught arts and crafts to the disabled, and was a legal secretary for a dozen years. Heck, she even sold aluminum siding, but a girl has to get by, right?

An accomplished gourmet chef, Mazzariello is also a master gardener who has transformed the backyard of her Broad Street office/home into a veritable Eden that features winding, vine-covered walkways and a secluded Koi pond. As if that weren't enough, the formidable litigator is a talented painter, an aspiring stand-up comic, and an avid animal activist who shares quarters with her cats Doppo, Harriet, Snip, Pook, Cheetah, Dolce, Johnny, Frankie, and Nose, as well as Marie (a Hyacinth Macaw), Eddie (an Amazon Double-Yellow-Headed parrot), Betta (a Yellow-Crested Cockatoo), and of course, Harry, aka the dog -- all rescues.

So how did a nice Italian girl straight out of Brooklyn wind up in Gastonia? "I met a man on the Internet," she says with a laugh. "We got married. It didn't take." The marriage may have fizzled, but Mazzariello decided to put down roots. More than a decade later, she is still blooming. "My first case here, my client was accused of being a horse thief," she says. "Of course, we maintained that he was merely repossessing it. Need I say more?" If you're ever in need of a legal eagle -- or the best homemade stuffed artichokes this side of Little Italy -- Arc is your go-to gal.

Feeding Hungry Ears & Hearty Appetites: Rodi

245 West Garrison Blvd. Suite H

Gastonia, N.C. 28052

704-864-7634

I was so pleasantly surprised to find such an oasis of affable downtown ambience the first time I set foot in Rodi, you could have smacked my ass and called me Sally. The venue features live music on the weekends (David Childers and Robin Rogers are regulars) a damn fine menu, and a bar that serves a raft of trendy signature drinks along with an impressive list of beers and wines. It's the kind of place where, if you put in an appearance or two, everybody knows your name, and according to Sales & Events Coordinator Tony Galliher and Manager Lynn Parton, that's just how they like it.

Parton and Galliher both began their Rodi careers as servers who have worked their way up to management. "It just sucks you in," Galliher jokes, but both are serious when they credit the close-knit crew who function like a family as the key to Rodi's success. Everything from music to menu decisions gets a thumb's up or down from the staff. "Everyone has an opinion and we listen to it," says Parton.

Rodi's menu features salads, burgers, seafood, salads, pizza, salmon and a wide variety of vegetarian options, plus an array of homemade desserts. "Everything is fresh except for things that can't be found fresh in bulk," says Parton, "and every dish is cooked to order."

In addition to the restaurant/bar, Rodi also boasts an event/performance area that serves as setting for the for-pay concerts, weddings and other functions that support the free live music that happens most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Galliher says that Rodi features both local favorites and regional bands that come from as far away as California and Ireland. Weekend hours will soon see a new twist, with music running from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. "It's a big step for us. We always closed at 10 p.m., but we think that if we keep the music going a little longer, everyone is going to be happier," says Galliher, who adds, "We're not your typical chain restaurant. You never know what you're going to walk into when you come here, other than a good meal and a great time."

Queen of Correspondence: Ring Torrence Stafford, owner, Torrence Stationery & Gifts

245 West Garrison Blvd. Suite B

Gastonia, N.C. 28052

704-866-7760

Housed in the same building as Rodi, Stafford's fun, funky shop has a long tradition and a true Gastonia pedigree (as evidenced by the Torrence name on several impressive structures, including the Marguerite Ring Torrence Girl Scout Center). Although Stafford's family is "old Gastonia," she moved to New York City and traveled the world after graduating college but eventually came home to stay.

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