Nicole Mahoney: 00:18 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another interesting guest, Brian Mastro, Simone, owner of Lincoln Hill farms and agricultural attraction and entertainment venue located on Canandaigua Lake and the finger lakes of New York state. This conversation was so interesting because of Brian’s background in real estate and his vision for developing 70 plus acres on candidate will leak into a multipurpose agricultural destination. Brian is truly following his passion as he has been developing Lincoln Hill farms for the past six years. In our conversation, we talk about the challenges he has faced in getting his business off the ground. [inaudible] creative approach to development and the multi-use is that his property provides its visitors. A little more about Brian. He is a true visionary and entrepreneur with over 13 years of experience, property management and vacation rental industry. Brian is passionate about the budding potential of investing in the finger lakes region and combined with his love for the outdoors, led him to purchase acreage at Canandaigua Lake.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:24 Well dreaming of the possibilities this land could offer to the public, Brian and his team have transformed this beautiful farm land. It is now Lincoln Hill farms into an all inclusive venue and agricultural attraction. When Brian is not busy working and managing his ventures. He enjoys relaxing with his wife children. He also enjoys supporting rock. Did he values a nonprofit organization that he founded, which sponsors a fiveK walk run each June in support of the Rochester city school district. Now let’s dive into the interview. Brian, thank you so much for joining us and being willing to share your story and your ideas with our audience. I’m looking so far and to learning from you, but before we dive in, can you share a little bit about your story with our listeners? I find it so it’s more context to our conversation when they hear it in your own words.

Brian Mastrosimone: 02:20 Yeah, so thanks for having me. Um, um, uh, Brian, when Lincoln Hill farms and I started this project six years ago, uh, but prior to this project, I was a developer in the inner cities of Rochester buying, managing inner city homes. Mmm. Kinda got to be a grind and didn’t really enjoy that. So, uh, came out to the finger, like love to finger lakes. I, I bought ’em a couple of houses prior to buying the farm and I rented them out on candidate will Lake and came across this 70 acres. Mmm. And thought, Oh, this would be a great to have a little barn and uh, some weddings, you know, put some stuff around the barn and then, um, kinda snowball. And, uh, we started just going really at it and, um, I sold the company in the city and took that money in, put it into the farm with pretty much everything else.

Brian Mastrosimone: 03:19 We, that I had, uh, selling off the houses now on candy and we’ll like, and putting that money back into the farm and, uh, developed it into what you see today, which is, uh, 95 acres. I own three houses on the farm. Um, we have a huge barn that you can get to from a different entrance on 18, built a big tent over a sunflower field. Um, and then repurposed five silos, uh, roadways, water or electric, all that. Yeah. Mmm. That’s where I am today. And you know, we do anything from music concerts to weddings, to corporate outings, you name it. We pretty much do it when kind of do a family feel on Sundays. Mmm. We have lots of, uh, animals and things like that. So, and that all took about six years to develop.

Speaker 4: 04:11 Wow. Um, that, that’s amazing. And I know even listening to you describe it doesn’t really give it justice. It’s, it’s one of those properties that you really have to see and, and have to experience. Um, but talk a little bit about, um, you know, you mentioned the different uses for the property. Mmm. But you can, you can have, it’s large enough that you can have several things happening on your property at the same time. Right?

Brian Mastrosimone: 04:38 Yeah. We’ve had multiple weddings going out at the same time. We’ve had a concert in a wedding going on at the same time. You know, ideally what we’d like to do is have like a pregame party for corporate outings. Um, like on a Friday night of a corporate, you know, I don’t know that we had a band play and our concerts side and then have a private event in our sunflower side and then have that, you know, dinner and drinks on the sunflowers side and then everybody come over to the band side. So we can do multiple things the whole time. Yeah. We’ve had a, we’ve actually had birthday parties going on while the music was going on. Engagement parties. Mmm. Pretty much anything you can say. I mean, anything you can think of whereabouts, five, 600 yards, uh, away from each other, from the two of ads. And they’re separated by, um, a bunch of white pine trees. So you can’t really, you can’t really see the two. You can’t see the two, but it’s hard to, to hear the other one when they’re both going on at the same time.

Speaker 4: 05:43 [inaudible] that’s a, that’s great. And, um, you also mentioned, uh, you know, that you’ve got this family feel on Sundays and you’ve got animals and, and I know you have, beyond the sunflowers, you have other, other things that you grow there too. Can you talk a little bit about how that the farm operation works?

Brian Mastrosimone: 06:01 Yeah. So this year we have our gardens that we’ve, we’ve, we’ve built over the winter a garden beds [inaudible], which have anything from flowers to vegetables in it. And that’s just over an acre. Um, we have a silo in the middle of it where you can hang out eventually. We want to turn that into a kitchen. Um, so you can pick your vegetables and you can grab your eggs and you can, uh, because from the chicken pens and new weekend cook breakfast for you inside the gardens. Mmm. The other thing, uh, we have his hops, so we’ve got an acre of hops, which is, yeah. Okay. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we did it, but the, um, I’m glad it’s there. It’s great for on beyond. We have people come and pick our hops and they can use them. Um, obviously with our permission.

Brian Mastrosimone: 06:53 And so our hops could be in like a coffee blend. There’s like a, the hops coffee now they’re making a cold brew coffee with hops. There’s also obviously, um, different breweries coming in and grabbing our hops, putting them into their beers as a, uh, at a wet house. Like you said, we had the sunflowers and then behind the sunflower fields we just got into CBD. So we have about a, this year we’re doing an acre CBD. Um, and we’re going to try to hand plant that acre and really see if we can get these things to blossom. They big bushes and um, see if we can get a good, uh, crap out of it this year.

Speaker 4: 07:34 Yeah, I think that’s great. So I thank you for kind of walking us through that a little bit cause I really wanted our listeners to understand the, the kind of the ambiance that you’ve built up, that this is really a working farm. Um, although that’s not your primary, um, business objective. Uh, being a farm, but you are a farm and you also have these, uh, these different venues making it a very unique, uh, destination in the finger lakes. And so I’m wondering, uh, you know, on this show we like to talk about creativity and collaboration. And so I want to start with creativity and, and I can already tell there’s a lot of creativity happening at Lincoln Hill farms. You know, how you’re developing this property. Um, but I’m wondering what kinds of things do you have done at Lincoln Hill farms to really help you kind of stand out from the crowd? There’s so many choices of places to go, things to do, and, uh, what kinds of things are you doing to help with that?

Brian Mastrosimone: 08:32 So some of the creativity is, is really embracing the farm field, but making it an event for more people are a space for more to people to use than the actual crops itself. Mmm. So for example, in the middle of our hops yard, we cleared it out. So there’s a 3000 where you know, 3000 feet, uh, just, um, grasped in the middle of a hops yard where we set tables up, we’ll do dinners out of it. We do the same thing in our sunflower field. So we just, um, basically elevated a patch of grass 14 feet wide, right through the six acres of sunflowers where we put tables in it. We can do dinners out of there as well as our, we do that with our hops yard or our hemp yards too. And then the other, you know, some other creativities [inaudible] re-purposing our silos, um, to, you know, our main silos.

Brian Mastrosimone: 09:27 We call it our VIP silo. You can hang out in here, Mmm. Where we’re trying to build a second deck. Um, we, we expected to have the second deck on, um, bye June. But that, uh, just because of everything that’s happened over the couple of months, we are, um, in lingo on that. So, I’m not sure if that’s what happened before this year, but that would be a really cool and unique, um, peace as well as when we elevated our sum, our tent, our 6,000 square point 10 over our sunflower fields. So overlook them. I’m smart, creative, and then, you know, the, the, the idea is to be on a farm, a working farm, but it is very spread out so that you can actually walk through it and be part of it.

Speaker 4: 10:17 Hmm. Yeah, I like that. Um, you know, you’re really, really focused on kind of what is the visitor experiencing as they’re on your property and what does, what do those transitions like? I think everything that you’ve described from even how the property is set up with the [inaudible], with the two separate areas where you can host your concerts and your weddings. Mmm. And kind of what is the whole total variance. I like, I think it’s just phenomenal. Mmm. And you did mention, you know, briefly as you were describing this, you know, you have these visions and of course you have visuals of what you were planning, um, and enhancements you were planning for this year, which are a little bit in limbo, uh, because our listeners will probably know cause this will likely publish while we’re still going through this, uh, current pandemic that we’re in. Um, but okay, everyone’s been thrown up. We’re on a loop right now in terms of, you know, what we were thinking 2020 was going to be like an end now. Maybe not so sure.

Brian Mastrosimone: 11:19 Yeah.

Speaker 4: 11:20 Yeah. I’m curious if you have any creative ways that you’re kind of responding to this or what, what types of things that you’re thinking about in the face of this particular challenge? Um, which we all know cause we’ve, we’ve lived long enough that, um, you know, this too shall pass. Um, what, what are some of those, yeah. [inaudible] are helping you get through this.

Brian Mastrosimone: 11:41 Well, what are the things we decided as a team was to not complete phase one by June 1st. Um, but to have phase one done by the end of the year. Um, so we can continue to work through phase one. But yeah, the, the, the projects we are working on, we want to make sure that we are Mmm. Doing ’em to the, to the Dan that we, yeah. That they’re perfect. So, um, right now for example, we’re building our glamping, uh, area. Mmm. It was supposed to be 24 tenths and we’ve downsized now to 11 first. So many reasons.

Speaker 4: 12:25 Hmm.

Brian Mastrosimone: 12:25 But there, it’s going to be like when you walk into this section of the farm, you’re going to be like wowed. Um, they’re all on platforms. We’re, we’re, right now we’re doing the, the leveling of the ground and we’re going to feed it. Uh, so it’d be nice and plush, um, our, our pathways to it, which there’s multiple pathways to get there. That’s can be, um, Oh, manicured with lighting and stuff, stuff like that. Where before when we opened up, it wasn’t probably going to have all that. So we’re just going to focus on this smaller parts and just focus on making it as, as that was great as we can make it. Um, that’s pretty much where we’re headed. So there’s, there’s other sections of the farm where, you know, instead of doing the entire garden, we’re just gonna do maybe a quarter of the garden.

Brian Mastrosimone: 13:17 There’s a lot of that lack of, um, employees right now. We don’t know how close they can work together and doing things like that. So, Mmm. As well as, uh, financially we don’t know how many shows we’re going to have, one, we’re going to be open and things like that. So we gotta we got to kind of prepare for the worst, but hope for the best credit situation. Um, it makes sure that there’s something new on the farm when, when we opened in may, which there will be, but not, unfortunately, not all phase one would be done.

Speaker 4: 13:50 [inaudible] well, I, I think that’s, uh, that’s really good thinking though in terms of, you know, we’re not going to get all of these projects done, but the projects we’re going to do, we’re going to do them, you know, to the best of our ability. They’re going to be just awesome. They’re going to be the best project that we can possibly put out right now. And not only that, but to be able to recognize as a team that, all right, we’re not going to get our, all of our phase one objectives done by June as a release yourself from having to be tied to, you know, an original vision and deadline, which now with everything coming at you, Mmm. Just make, makes it easier, right. To continue and refocus.

Brian Mastrosimone: 14:35 Yeah. Decreases the anxiety and a lot of the staff is, you know,

Speaker 4: 14:40 [inaudible]

Brian Mastrosimone: 14:41 feeling the pressure of who can I talk to, how close can I be to somebody? And there’s, you know, there’s just all this extra stuff and then to have these, to add on it, I just didn’t think it was fair for everybody. Um, we had done a phone conference with 14 guys, 14 of us, and we all just agreed, like, that’s just make what we got and, or what were, what we were working on when the [inaudible] Ben diamond kit, like what we were working on and let’s, let’s make it the best that we possibly can. And I thought that was a good idea. We can always add on, you know, um, it’s not the end of the world for us. There’s still gonna be some new and cool things for people to see and, um, it’ll be cool. It, it’ll still be really a great year once we opened up.

Speaker 4: 15:31 Absolutely. That’s awesome. And I think that’s really good perspective and I appreciate you sharing that because I know a lot of our listeners are going through very similar situations and we’re all just trying to, Mmm. Really figure out the best path forward and it’s always helpful to hear, uh, you know, how others are doing it, um, as we reflect on what we’re doing. So I appreciate that. So, Mmm, Brian, I, I know you had a lot of plans for the future and of course I know they may not be in 2020, but are there any, any, anything in particular that you kind of see coming down the path or Lincoln Hills farms that you’re particularly excited about either for this year or even next year once we get past this?

Brian Mastrosimone: 16:18 Yeah, I mean, um, you know, our biggest feat right now is trying to figure out how to put sewer and, um, once sewer it’s the to farm and then we’re trying to figure out the best path for that where we’re trying to avoid septic systems at all costs because [inaudible] the septic system to run a farm like this would be ginormous, you know, once that happened, you know, I’m just, I’ll be in my glory. Um, I like to, I like to keep changing things and keep adding things. And, um, once that happens, um, you know, we’ll have a full kitchen, we’ll have take out, we’ll be open in the winter. I want to build a [inaudible] huge, you know, event barn, um, our glamping sections. We would want to, you know, bump them up to bigger, better glamping with actual showers and bathrooms individually in each each. So that’s our biggest thing right now. As soon as we get that, you know, this will be the biggest, in my opinion, this would be the biggest destination in the finger lakes. I was just trying to get the sewer to Lincoln Hill was [inaudible] little over a mile away on the road and um, that’s pretty costly. But if I could get that, it would change who would change? You change your finger lakes

Speaker 4: 17:42 [inaudible] yeah, absolutely. I mean, infrastructure makes a huge difference when you’re, when you’re developing any, any project in the rural finger lakes, right?

Brian Mastrosimone: 17:53 Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 17:54 Be a game changer.

Brian Mastrosimone: 17:56 Yeah. Yeah. I never think when I started the project, um, I didn’t think about this stuff. So, um, to grab a 70 acre piece of land with nothing on it, um, and develop it into something Vegas, we’re trying to, all right. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of work and that’s why it’s taken us six years already. So [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 18:17 yeah. But a lot of passion and dedication also, right?

Speaker 5: 18:21 Yeah, I’d say.

Speaker 4: 18:24 Absolutely. So, Brian, I also on the show like to talk about collaboration and, and you, and I, um, you know, I’ve met previously and I, and I know you have Mmm. A lot of ideas and a lot of, um, [inaudible] relationships that you’ve already started. And so I’m curious, um, when it comes to collaboration, are there certain collaborations that either, you know, you’re working on or that you’ve, uh, you’ve had in the past that are particularly successful? And if you would mind sharing those with our listeners?

Brian Mastrosimone: 18:57 Yeah, so we’ve done a couple, um, things like, for example, um, star cider, which is a stone throw away from us. We did a, a [inaudible] Mmm. A dinner with them. So we paired their ciders with a dinner and you did that in the sunflower fields. Um, so that was another local company. Um, we want to do more of that. So for dinner that we do in the hops yard or the sunflower fields or CVD yards, we want to, we want to bring in local wineries, local breweries and them. And pair the foods with that. That’s, that’s one thing that we really want to stress and look forward to doing with other companies in the finger lakes. Um, as well as bringing in other chefs for those times. Not to say that they would be the only chef, but to, to work with our chef on, on the farm who’s ’em it’s super talented.

Brian Mastrosimone: 19:51 You know, he went to the culinary Institute of America, he’s cooked under some master chefs and it’d be really cool for no, just any chef in the area to work with PIM to put together a menu and pair it with some other local Mmm. Wineries or ciders and brewers and, um, you know, and, and grab 60 people to enjoy that. And in the middle of the night, peaceful lit up sunflower field or half shot. So we did that. We’re, we’re, we’re, we’re working on that. We’ve done that once. And uh, there was another time where we had the candidate will, chamber came out and we did something very similar to that where we had six different chefs prepare one different meal or, or plate. And, uh, we did family style, so, um, everybody had their, I dunno, favorite dish or whatever it was on, on the, on the menu. And that was cool. And those were all, um, finger lakes restaurants.

Speaker 4: 20:57 That sounds awesome. And both of those things sound really amazing. And as we’re sitting here in our, um, social distancing phase, we’re going to do it this summer. Sign me up.

Brian Mastrosimone: 21:11 Right.

Speaker 5: 21:13 Yeah,

Brian Mastrosimone: 21:13 absolutely.

Speaker 4: 21:14 That’s fabulous. Um, so I’m wondering if you have any advice for, um, for our listeners who might be thinking about maybe starting, um, some sort of a business in the hospitality tourism industry like you did or who are thinking about Mmm, yep. Promoting, uh, or marketing within the finger lakes tourism world. Um, lessons learned nice. That you can share

Brian Mastrosimone: 21:45 well, on a, on a, on, on, on a personal level, I just take it slow. Um, you know, if I had to do it all over again, I would’ve done it piece meals. Mmm. I would have been open a lot longer, uh, Oh, much earlier I should say. And, um, I would’ve had a cash flow coming in, you know, year two instead of you or, or five, whatever it was. Um, so I definitely take it slow plan as much as you can, plan as much as you can from marketing to engineering to everything. And don’t just dive into like, I did a just plan plan, plan from the, the only thing I could tell you, you’re obviously gonna make mistakes. You gotta put that first foot forward, but try to think of everything possible. And if you need help, I am here. I will. I don’t think, uh, I don’t think it’s competition is evil.

Brian Mastrosimone: 22:40 I think that, uh, in the finger lakes we all gotta work together. I would be more than happy if somebody wanted to buy the parcel across the street, old build something that I have, I’d be more than happy to help. Um, it’s just gonna help me bring more people to the, so, um, I think in the finger lakes it’s a seasonal destination, which, you know, we got to try to get as many people to the area as possible and try to make that season as long as possible. So if anybody wanted to do something like this, I would be more than happy, more than happy to give them contacts and information, whatever I can to help.

Speaker 4: 23:20 Absolutely. I think that’s, that’s really awesome. And, and you’re right, I’m, I couldn’t agree more. What is the saying? A rising tide lifts all boats. Yeah, exactly.

Brian Mastrosimone: 23:30 Believer that.

Speaker 4: 23:31 Yeah, definitely.

Brian Mastrosimone: 23:32 I believe in competition. I just think it’s a, especially for something like this, you know, it should be that, you know, the Napa Valley on the East coast, it really should, it new all the way to make that happen, as if we all work together and try to make it that.

Speaker 4: 23:47 Absolutely. I couldn’t, I couldn’t agree more. Um, so I just wanted the backup to one of the points you, you made, cause you actually just gave our listeners some really, really good, um, advice. Uh, but the first thing you said was to take it slow, but then you went on to say open earlier. So are you saying that you, you waited till you had a certain amount of the property developed before you opened and you feel you could have done that a little bit earlier and maybe phased it out better?

Brian Mastrosimone: 24:15 Yeah. So if I had, yeah, I would’ve just, um, so if the first, like if you came onto to my farm right now, you know, there’s just, it’s 78 years almost all developed because I had to do it all over again. I would just concentrate on like four acres. So it would have been the stage and the three side. Um, if I had to do it all over again. Um, but you know, if I didn’t start ever, I’ve never taken that step. So that’s what I meant by to take it slow and just gradually build on. I mean, somebody acres is pretty big area and um, you can get lost. You can, you can get the [inaudible] go head on a swivel and you’re constantly trying to catch up to the next thing. So I would focus on one spot that’s making money and then go to a next stop. So at least you have some sort of cashflow coming in.

Speaker 4: 25:08 [inaudible] yeah, yeah, absolutely. Great advice. And so take it slow, just so listeners get all of your points. I wrote them down. Um, so to take it slow plan, plan, plan and plan some more. That’s what I heard.

Speaker 5: 25:22 Yeah. I mean I’ve done

Brian Mastrosimone: 25:25 all right. You know, I went through a lot of engineers, a lot of architects, a lot of different, uh, trying to skip corners and [inaudible] learn the hard way. But Mmm. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started with a bigger engineer and um, I would have started with a bigger architect and [inaudible] that route.

Speaker 4: 25:52 Mmm.

Speaker 5: 25:53 Cause it’s a big project.

Speaker 4: 25:55 Yeah. Right, right. And then I think really great advice is just to put that first foot forward. I tell people that all the time, just take a step. You know, as, as soon as you take one step, then you’ll take another step. And, um, I mean, I can’t, I can’t agree with you more that I think that’s just so important with any, any kind of project either. You know, even if you’re not a developer, even if you’re [inaudible] getting ready to launch a marketing campaign or something, just start and, and, um, and you know, just as you go,

Brian Mastrosimone: 26:26 yeah, definitely start somewhere else, snowball and you’ll figure it out as you go.

Speaker 4: 26:32 Yeah.

Brian Mastrosimone: 26:34 You’re gonna come across things and that’s the best part of being an entrepreneur. I mean, if you can’t thrive on that, then, you know, I recommend go work for somebody because you’re going to have a lot of fires to put out and it’s exciting and it’s complicated and it’s rewarding, frustrating all at the same time.

Speaker 4: 26:52 [inaudible] absolutely. I think that’s great. Well, Brian, I really appreciate you being so open and transparent with us. I’m sure our listeners, um, have found quite a few takeaways in this conversation. Mmm. Before we say goodbye, are there any final thoughts that you’d like to share or anything that I didn’t ask you that, that you had wanted to share?

Brian Mastrosimone: 27:15 No, I’m good. Anybody had any questions or anything like that. I’m an open book. Come on down Lincoln Hill farms and then [inaudible] you don’t want to talk about that. Hopefully we’ll see you come down here for a concert or a the Sunday fun day.

Speaker 4: 27:31 Absolutely. That sounds wonderful. And uh, tell our listeners where they can find, uh, find you or find Lincoln Hill farms.

Brian Mastrosimone: 27:38 Yeah, so it’s Lincoln Hill farms.com we’re located right behind see American, a bird’s eye view, but it’s right off at two 47, um, about a mile off of five and 20

Speaker 4: 27:50 and candidate Guam

Brian Mastrosimone: 27:52 in Canada.

Speaker 4: 27:53 That’s right. Awesome. Well thank you so much Brian, and we’ll look forward to coming out and enjoying Lincoln Hill farms this summer and I know we’re all going to be moving around soon. We have hope.

Brian Mastrosimone: 28:06 Well, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Speaker 4: 28:08 Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to tell you about our weekly. I see. Why am I in case you missed it? E newsletter each week. Along with our podcast episode, we share an article written by one of the break the ice media team members about the travel and tourism industry. Our articles mirror the mix of industry segments and topics similar to this podcast. [inaudible] join our newsletter, [inaudible] D O T L eight six six or visit break the ice media.com forward slash

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Speaker 5: 29:28 [inaudible].