Tag Archives: Albany

The peaceful transference of power

Danny & Heidi Urschel

Thursday night I had the pleasure of working alongside Danny & Heidi Urschel, the couple who are in the process of purchasing my business. Weeks ago I had mentioned to them that Champagne on the Park was a big event for our neighborhood and suggested they participate by providing some food and their presence as a means of introducing themselves to Lark St. It was a perfect evening and I was really pleased by the welcome offered by residents and Lark + Lily regulars. Mio Posto is going to be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.

In the weeks since Danny, Heidi and I first met to talk about their business occupying 200 Lark Street our “negotiations” have consistently been easy. We have the same goal – get me out and get them in and make them successful. Simple. They, and their concept, are absolutely perfect for the beautiful space I’ve called my own and it truly feels like the stars aligned to bring us all together in the right place at the right time.

In some ways, the sale of my business reminds me of my divorce. There’s a lot of stuff to itemize and assign ownership, lawyers are involved and there’s a mess of paperwork. Similar, right?  The other thing consistent with my divorce process and the sale of the business, is a conscious effort to keep an eye on the ultimate goal. In the first instance it was all about what was best for the children, while in the current situation it is about what is best for the very special space that is 200 Lark. The civility of our divorce earned the boys’ dad and me the title of posterchildren of healthy divorce and I fully expect the same positive transition to occur with the business transaction.

As I get closer to the end of my business endeavor, I feel an array of emotions – satisfaction, twinges of sadness, excitement, relief and acceptance. I’ve learned a lot of things in the past two years and it’s going to take some time for me to process it all. The takeaway, though, is that I have few regrets. As Memorial Day weekend and finalizing the sale draws closer, I’m truly looking forward to the summer with a new appreciation of the time I will have available to spend doing things I’ve missed. It’s going to be fun.

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

Don’t confuse Fake News with the genuine story

Over the weekend, more significantly on the first of April, there was a bit of a brouhaha in the Times Union Blogoverse. Chuck Miller posted a piece that day, as he has every single day for some remarkable length of time, that claimed that Kellyanne Conway would be the speaker for the University of Albany’s 2017 spring commencement. When the headline came across one of my feeds, without even clicking through, I discerned that it was an April Fool’s Day joke and quickly moved on to something else I was more interested in reading. There were a lot of funny things published that particular day and honestly, that toy soldier outfit of Conway’s from Inauguration Day is a real turnoff.

Later in the day I heard there was some controversy about Chuck’s post. It seems that the editor of the Times Union felt compelled to have the blog post removed from the website and to go one step farther by Tweeting out an apology along with a four sentence story on times union.com:

A community blog hosted by timesunion.com falsely reported Saturday morning that Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to President Trump, would be the commencement speaker at the University at Albany. As soon as we were alerted to the post, we removed it from our site and suspended the blog. We apologize to anybody who was misled by this post, which was not written by a Times Union staff member. Even on April Fools’ Day, there’s no place for fake news under the Times Union banner.

To me, the most outrageous part of this entire episode is this undeniable truth: the newsroom at the Times Union, a place once filled with professionals, is a ghost town. In the last few years, reporters and editors and photographers have left the Times Union faster than Donald Trump jets to Mar-a-Lago every weekend.

Look at this list of names – Paul Block, Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Michael P. Farrell, Bob Gardinier, Jen Gish, Paul Grondahl, Michael Huber, Tim O’Brien, Tracey Ormsbee, Ray Pitlyk, John Runfola, Cindy Schultz, Brianna Snyder and Dennis Yusko. All have left the Times Union in the past year or so. Yes, Rex, the offending blog post was not written by a Times Union staff member because, in fact, there are hardly any of them left.

When newspapers make the decision to buy printing presses and build community meeting space rather than pay professionals to cover real stories, what they become are blog hosts and slide show click bait. At a time when real news reporting has never been more critical, the editor of the Times Union and the corporation that owns it have become a media joke. Kind of like the blog post that started all of this.

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Filed under Local, News, Observations, politics, Rants

Paradise might be a parking lot

Whenever the conversation turns to city life you know that the topic of parking is going to come up. While many of us have no issue with doing a couple of laps, or even walking a few blocks from our car to our destination, there are quite a few people who absolutely will not venture somewhere without “convenient” parking. Truth.

As someone who is accustomed to considering a parking spot within a half mile of my location when in NYC to be a real find, I don’t completely understand that mindset, but as a business owner, I need to be cognizant of it. Since purchasing my Lark Street business, I’ve spent a fair amount of time eyeing the county owned parking lot a half a block from Lark Street. You know, the one between Lark and Henry Johnson on Washington Avenue that essentially is nearly empty beyond the county business day? Yeah. That one.

I’ve had conversations with the Lark Street BID, a person from the county, people from the city and someone from the parking authority. The end result: nothing. Zero progress.

Here’s the thing – some businesses in the neighborhood have promoted the evening use of that parking facility to their guests via social media. I’ve got pictures to prove it. There’s a nearby church that has a sandwich board which they place in the lot of Sundays inviting their worshippers to park in that very lot during services. Have they been given the green light by officials or are they merely rolling the dice and taking a chance?

I’m not going to lie – I’m really irked by the lack of consistency regarding both permission to park and the enforcement of the county’s policy that the lot is exclusively for county employees. It seems unfair, incredibly inefficient and it bothers me. Why is a prime asset to neighborhood businesses not being used to its potential? At a time when localities are struggling for revenue, wouldn’t it be logical to make this lot available in the evenings and on the weekends to potential customers and charge them a fair fee for the convenience?

Come on, Albany. You can and must do better.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Rant, Restaurants, Uncategorized

6 days of skiing

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Sleeping like a baby, post-ski.

After a couple of lackluster seasons of cross country skiing, March has been redemptive and the timing couldn’t have been better. For me, that is. On Sunday, March 10, I ran a half marathon under challenging conditions.  The next day I recovered with a 90 minute massage and the day after that we received 20″ of snow. I haven’t run since, choosing instead to step into my skis and explore Capital Hills with Jeter. It’s been phenomenal.

Skiing the golf course is one of my favorite ways to spend a couple of hours and I’m pretty confident that I know that land better than a lot of people. Over the years I’ve explored much of the course and have some favorite trails. I’ve also learned which parts of the course get the most sun at different times of the day and know to expect icy conditions under the evergreens. I think of Capital Hills as my winter backyard and I just love it.

The skiing last week was epic. While the depth of the snow immediately following the storm prevented Jeter and I from going too far, as the week went on, we began to extend our treks. Thanks to the clock change, daylight extended into the evening and Jeter and I enjoyed the outdoors until nearly 7 p.m. The wooded trails have been particularly scenic and I found it completely possible to forget that I was in a city as I glided through the untouched forest solo. Magical.

Jeter loves the snow, but it was so very deep that I was concerned about him overexerting himself on our first couple of outings. As the snow became more packed over the week, we began stretching our loops out covering more ground. There was a new trail that beckoned, a number of comical falls and more than a few moments of absolute exhilaration. The almost spring sun made the snow sparkle and glitter, dazzling me into near blindness.

There wasn’t a single second that I wished I was anywhere else. While I welcome spring, I’m going to miss winter.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Snowverwhelmed!

We got a lot of snow last week, more snow than I’ve seen in a few years. As I got ready for bed more than 48 hours after the snow first began, I could still hear snow removal happening – blowers and plows and trucks battling the nearly two feet of powdery whiteness. It was truly awesome.

On Tuesday evening, the first night of the storm, when I cross-country skied from the DelSo to Center Square, it was much more quiet. There were few cars on the road and I was able to ski right down Delaware Avenue, switching from side to side as the occasional vehicle approached. The skiing was great. The powdery snow offered no resistance and the wind failed to live up to its reputation. I was smiling at least as much as the people I encountered along my way. For some reason folks always seem amused by the sight of a person cross-country skiing on city streets.

Less amused were the drivers of the cars (and buses) that were stuck along my way.  I’ve never seen so many vehicles stuck – it was unbelievable.  Without exaggeration, there more than a half dozen cars being pushed on Lark Street alone.  It was a mess.

There have been a lot of complaints about the snow removal, or lack thereof. As a city resident who lives on a street that seems to fall pretty low on list of priorities, I understand the frustration. Arcadia Avenue was barely plowed and even now, nearly a week later, parking is compromised and we’re voluntarily still leaving our cars on a single side of the street.

There are claims that some streets were given preferential treatment, I understand there’s even a video supporting that claim. I don’t know.  There was a lot of snow. No matter how many plows there were, there weren’t enough. People worked really hard. The snow was relentless. It was definitely snowverwhelming.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Holiday parties

“What holidays?” you ask? Well, in this instance I’m talking about the big ones – Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. While each of these may seem like ancient history to non-hospitality folk, we at Lark + Lily celebrated these occasions just last week. It’s how we do it.

From an epic Yono's/Stone Ends holiday party.

From an epic Yono’s/Stone Ends holiday party.

Some of my favorite memories from my days working for Donna & Yono Purnomo revolve around the staff parties they generously sponsored for us back in the day. There were a couple of years when our Yono’s crew was treated to a fabulous holiday party at Dale Miller’s Stone Ends. We gussied up like nobody’s business and were feted by a staff who indulged us beautifully. We, of course, reciprocated when they came to our place for their party. Really good times.

Last Sunday, the entire L+L staff headed to Ocean Palace on Central Avenue to celebrate a successful holiday season. We selected this casual; mostly take out spot because we’re all fans of their food and we’re in agreement that supporting a (practically) neighbor’s business is what we’re all about. It was an excellent decision.

Whole flounder, salt and pepper

Whole flounder, salt and pepper

Because we’re industry people and we understand the challenges of essentially having a walk-in table of 14 (significant others were included in our party), we ordered some items in advance to give Peter, the chef-owner, a headstart. After consultation with staff and Ocean Palace, we went with the following:

· A variety of dumplings, vegetarian, pork, shrimp, fried and steamed.
· Squid with salt and pepper – a personal favorite of many of us.
· Scallion pancakes.
· Chinese “bacon” which was essentially pork belly. We ordered a second one as soon as the first one hit the table.
· Sautéed stringbeans.
· A whole flounder prepared salt & pepper style – very impressive!
· Roast duck chow fun
· Shrimp with pan fried noodles.

Chinese bacon

Chinese bacon

I had imagined “fleshing” things out once we were actually at the restaurant, but, I actually nailed it in terms of how much food would satisfy. We were pleasantly satiated with the amount of food we had been served and didn’t feel the need to add anything to our order. However, there are definitely things on that menu that we still need to explore and I don’t think anyone from Lark + Lily would protest a return to this quality spot. It was worth the wait!

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Dinner, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, holidays, Local, Restaurants, sunday

17 Things to love about Valentine’s Day 2017

16715920_1844113935853351_7426409160263547542_o• When the 14th of February falls on a Tuesday.
• Speaking of falling – no additional snow falling.
• A great menu created and executed by a professional kitchen – thanks, John & Zach & Ben.
• Competent and attentive front of the house staff – I’m talking about you, Jackie, Jammella & Trudy.
• A tightly mapped seating chart with 2 hour turns for every table.
• Appreciative walk ins who are grateful and work with what you can offer them.
• Solo diners who are comfortable enough to dine with you on the biggest couple night of the year.
• Guests who span the spectrum – white, black, brown, straight and gay. I’m really proud of the diverse clientele we have at Lark + Lily.
• Music that set the mood beautifully – thanks, Trudy!
• Friends stopping in for dessert.
• Mild weather and cozy fireplaces.
• A sense of relaxed pleasure wafting through the dining rooms.
• Finding the perfect card for your honey at Elissa Halloran’s.
• A steady stream of pleasant people populating our bar.
• Guests thanking you for providing them with a place they love to visit.
• Having the prettiest Valentine’s menus ever! Thanks, Lori Hansen & Laura Glazer.   16716184_1844117485852996_4174399207922838321_o
• Finishing the night with something bubbly and pink.

16797713_1844175939180484_5675353717826130564_oAnd one thing not to love – please, please, please have the decency to call and cancel your reservation if your plans change. Having an empty table that might have been filled by someone looking to celebrate is really frustrating. On a related note, if you are going to be more than 20 minutes late for your reservation, I’d suggest calling to let the restaurant know. After 20 minutes (without a phone call), your table becomes mine again.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Food, holidays, Local, love, Observations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Wine, winter