Category Archives: Lark Street

W(h)ine List

How I've been feeling.

How I had been feeling.

There have been a few moments in the past week or two when I’ve felt reasonably competent when it comes to keeping all of the necessary balls in the air when it involves Lark + Lily. I’ve moved forward from the preliminary weeks of being a business owner when I felt nearly overwhelmed by the responsibilities I had taken on. It seemed as if nearly every hour of the day was consumed by school followed by errands, meetings and tasks related to the restaurant, capped by evenings on premise. It was mentally, and on a lesser scale, physically exhausting.

I was struggling with balance – and you know how I thrive on cultivating balance. Eating, sleeping and running were becoming distant memories and I wondered when I would achieve some control over my life again. Well, I’m happy to report that I feel as if I’ve moved on from the daily-putting-out-fires stage of entrepreneurship to a more even state of composure. I’m breathing (and sleeping and eating) better.

The Lilly guys and I are creating a new normal with shared dinners each of the nights they spend at my house, even if one of those meals is takeout and another is leftovers. I’m pretty much getting my miles in each week which really helps with my energy level and mental well-being and I’m eating more consistently. It’s all working and I’m beginning to feel as if my life is merely pleasantly full rather than completely drowned by demands. It’s even starting to get kind of fun.

This week I added 8 new labels to my wine list, bringing my total selection to almost 70 labels. I’ve also tweaked some of the wines by the glass and spirits we offer. The list is growing to reflect my palate, while also representing varietals that guests expect to be present on a wine bar’s menu, things which I don’t necessarily gravitate to like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A couple of my favorite recent picks are a lovely Alsatian Riesling from Rolly Gossman and a bold Zinfandel, Valravn from Sonoma County. Maybe you’ll stop in sometime soon for a taste.

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Filed under Boys, family, Lark Street, Restaurants, stress, Uncategorized, Wine

Ladies First

12187768_1654731661458247_6615095249070919957_nMonths ago, as I started to imagine what Lark + Lily might look like, I had an idea about how I would like to officially launch the new business my brother and I were in the process of purchasing. I’ve been to soft openings, friends and family events and ribbon cuttings over the years and felt compelled to do something just a little bit different. Surprise, surprise, right?

I decided that I wanted to host an event exclusively for women, more specifically women who I found to be inspiring, influential and impressive. Once I had that sentiment as my motivation, the details rapidly fell into place. I settled on a date I found auspicious – the first day of a new month. Sunday, November 1st also felt perfect since we had been gifted with an extra hour with the previous night’s turn of the clock. My chef, John Futia and I developed a simple menu of finger foods, which we accompanied with sparkling wine and other gifts from the grape. It all came together with a remarkable ease.

The most challenging aspect of the entire afternoon was the guest list. Limiting my invitations to what our capacity is, was a Herculean* effort. As I considered all of the women who have inspired, influenced and impressed me over the years, the number became significant and I was placed in the unfortunate position of having to make some very difficult decisions. My only consolation? The fact that I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with so very many fabulous women. Truly.

On Sunday afternoon, as we lit candles and fireplaces, the skies turned blue. Lark + Lily soon filled with dynamic, interesting women and I was overwhelmed by joy as I watched business cards and handshakes and hugs being exchanged. Present were business owners, neighborhood activists, politicians, professionals and dear friends. The buzz was tremendous and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the afternoon – it was powerful.

If you were at Lark + Lily, thank you. I hope you found the mixer to be both enjoyable and valuable. And, if you couldn’t make it for whatever reason, please know that this was the first event for us, but certainly not the last.

*Should I say an Alcmenean effort since I’m being female-centric?


Filed under Albany, Events, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants

A rock star Halloween

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman

I should start by admitting that the same dark green velvet dress has been the base of my Halloween costume for three consecutive years. Do not underestimate my ability to be creative when it comes to working a pretty gown into the plan! Last night I covered the top of the dress with a lace blouse, leaving the dress to look like a skirt as I attempted to channel Stevie Nicks.

I suppose I should confess right now that, beyond the glittery scarves, wig and tambourine, everything for my costume came directly from my own closet. That says something, doesn’t it?

imageAs I get older, I find myself I’ve returning to my younger years when it comes to adopting a costume for a night. The Stevie Nicks thing was inspired by that biography I read a couple of months ago and, even though quite a few people thought I was a gypsy rather than a rock and roll goddess, I enjoyed last night’s adopted persona. Special points to those who detected the powdery residue on my nostrils.

The front of the house staff at Lark + Lily proved that they are indeed a family, specifically one with the last name of Ramone. They really rock.

imageHope your Halloween was fun and filled with more treats than tricks!

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Filed under aging, Albany, holidays, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants

(Not) Making decisions is tiring

Mock up of shingle - Laura Glazer and Lori Hansen

Mock up of shingle – Laura Glazer and Lori Hansen

I think it’s easy to believe that making decisions constantly is an exhausting exercise. From the outside it may seem like the choices necessary when starting a business, which are required constantly – what products to buy, who to buy from, where to buy them, would be completely draining. Pillows and paint samples, ingredients and beverages, paper and fonts, menu backs and rubber bands, services and utilities – it is dizzying at times, but, not necessarily  exhausting.

Actually, it’s kind of more elating. With every choice made the individual pieces come together and the big picture starts to become more focused. The decisions feel like definitive steps in the “right” direction. It’s productive and good.


Making decisions in reality, though, it is far less taxing than it is to be continually placed in situations where you are not in charge of making the decisions. Instead, you are in a position where you are being intensely examined and documented and vetted. You’re filling out paper after paper and, if you’re anything like me, wondering why there isn’t a Common App for restaurant supply company credit since every form is pretty much exactly the same. And you wait – for paperwork and phone calls and emails and certificates.

Now that shit is truly exhausting.

But, we’re getting closer every day. When all the necessary paperwork has been printed and mailed and signed, you’ll all know. Keep yours eyes peeled. Lark + Lily is coming.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, musings, Observations, Restaurants, stress, Wine

Dealing with the City of Albany has been a bureaucratic…

imageDream! Bet you weren’t expecting that, right? I’ve freely admitted I know knew nothing about buying or owning a business so everything involved is new to me. As I wade through the paperwork and appointments, my respect for every single business owner on the face of the earth has grown immensely. God bless you, folks! Your success at navigating your way through the process is my inspiration.

My primary objective is to get my application to the State Liquor Authority asap because this is the lynchpin in the entire process. Of course, I want my application to be flawless or, as they say, lacking in deficiencies. I’m working with a professional who is helping me through this intensely precise process.

As I address the bulleted list of items I need, I’ve been in close contact with various offices in City Hall. The degree of helpfulness I’ve encountered has been absolutely outstanding. For instance, I needed a document that Codes and Enforcement typically has on file. Except, in this case, they had no record of ever producing the document I needed. Which meant that an inspection had to be scheduled and the timeframe for that, naturally, was approximately 2 weeks. When I explained my situation and the need to have the document the very next day, they made it happen. Boom.

This is just one example of the professional and polite assistance I’ve received during my interactions with city offices. Others? When I requested a brief meeting with the mayor, I was accommodated with a place on her schedule within 48 hours. As I attempted to obtain yet another piece of paper for the SLA and was advised it would require a FOIL request and approximately 30 days, an employee described another option which would achieve the same result and that could be prepared in 10 days or less.

Each person I’ve encountered has made it clear that they are interested in providing me, an eventual business owner, with what I need to do business in Albany. Their motivation and actions have demonstrated a commitment to this ideal and I couldn’t be more appreciative, as both a homeowner and a new business owner. Just when I thought I couldn’t love you more, Albany!

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, stress

Working my block and other randoms

imageI’ve worked on Lark Street between Spring and State Streets for nearly 13 years. That’s like a third of my life (+10).

My head has so many ideas racing around. I really want to make Lark + Lily the kind of place I’ve always looked to frequent – comfortable, consistent, warm, not overly serious.

That kind of sounds like me, doesn’t it?

I don’t have an aesthetic as much as I have an energy.

Making the transition from watching OITNB to Girls, Season 1 has been…. interesting.

As I become more involved in restaurant matters, I find myself culling other areas of my life. I don’t have time for things which make me feel weighed down. Those unmatched socks and that pile of mending to be gone – one way or another.

Sometimes when I run with Jeter I worry that he’s going to have a heart attack. That being said, I haven’t run much this month. Between the bugs on vacation and the heat and humidity of this recent hot spell, I’m just not feeling it. I miss it.

Speaking of the weather, when its this hot all I am interested in eating is plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola and Caprese. And ice cream , of course.

I never, ever imagined I would own a business. It’s crazy exciting.

I can’t wait to share some of the things I’ve got planned. It’s going to be fun.

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Filed under Albany, ideas, Lark Street, musings, Random, Restaurants, running, Summer, Uncategorized

My network is > than my paperwork

imageI’ve just returned from a two-week vacation, perhaps my last one for some time. There was lots of beach time, leisurely walks, and evenings devoted to little but enjoying a glass or two of wine, I did also work on the Lark + Lily project. Phone calls and appointments were made and paperwork was collected and completed. It would be a stretch to call it a “working vacation,” but work was definitely on my mind and addressed.

imageThe amount of paperwork required to buy/open a business is remarkable. I’m not going to harangue the State of New York for this, I’m just stating a fact. As I’ve gathered documentation, records and my patience to complete various applications (I’m looking at you, SLA!), I’ve had moments of feeling overwhelmed. Along with a few deep breaths, here’s what is getting me through…

I have an amazing network of friends, professionals and connections who have been incredibly generous with their talents, experience and advice. Seriously, for every single piece of paper with which I’ve had to contend there are 5 people offering their support and assistance. I have a design team (Lori Hansen and Laura Glazer) helping me to create an aesthetic that is clean, warm and modern. A photographer, Jonathan Munshi, made himself available to shoot fantastic photos for the work-in-progress website and other social media platforms.

imageThe uber talented and way over-qualified Ken Ragsdale is doing my schematic drawings for my liquor license application. My wine distributor friends, along with my former husband (a former wine salesman) are waiting in the wings to help me put together a creative wine list with a median bottle price in the $40 range. A stellar mixologist, Larz Davi, offered to develop a couple of signature cocktails and we’ll be playing up the history of 200 Lark St. with her creations. Did you know that 200 Lark St. was formerly a chiropractic office? Look for the “Backcracker” on the cocktail menu!

The industry folks (Tess Collins, Paul McCullough, The Purnomos, Connie Ware, Kevin Everleth, Matt Baumgartner) who have shared their knowledge (and Rolodexes) will eternally hold a place in my heart, along with the legal professionals and realtor who are helping me to make this all happen. Media professionals Steve Barnes and Mary Darcy are also greatly appreciated.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The challenge of the paperwork is surpassed by the challenges trying to remember every single person who has come forward and offered a hand to me. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but will correct and update this post as necessary.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants, stress, Wine