Tag Archives: Albany

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

Things are amping up here in Albany as the September mayoral primary approaches. Of course, the winner of the primary in our fair city is the de facto winner of the election. That’s just how things work in our overwhelmingly democratic capital city. I’ve noticed while driving and running around town that there are a lot of lawn signs for the candidates popping up, particularly it seems for Frank Commisso, Jr. They’re everywhere and their prevalence has caused me to wonder what the appeal is for this candidate who I perceive to be a newish face on an old machine. Maybe you can help me with that, reader?

I’ve got my candidate – I’ll be voting again for Kathy Sheehan. Out of all of the candidates, I believe she is the smartest and least inclined to work for her own interests. I’ve heard criticism about her lack of political savvy and some say she is merely performing her duties as a step towards a more elevated position. It’s ok. I’ll take intelligent and ambitious. I think she’s done a good job and is making positive changes for residents. Plus, I like her – she’s approachable, compassionate and we seem to share similar values. She’s got my vote.

There have been a number of folks polling and campaigning at my door already and I’ve signed a few petitions. The other two primary candidates have stopped by and I had a very nice conversation with Frank Commisso, Jr., but remain firm in my commitment to Mayor Sheehan. Maybe that’s why I was dismayed to find a Carolyn McLaughlin sign staked in my front garden when I returned from Cape Cod last week. I do have a first floor rental flat, though, and would certainly permit my tenant-friend to express his own political leanings by supporting his own candidate. When I saw him, I asked if he had given permission for the sign to be posted and he responded with surprise and said “I thought you put it there.” Hmmm. Nope.

Looking across the street, I noticed another McLaughlin sign staked in the front yard of a neighbor who I know to be traveling this summer. When I reached out to my neighbor and asked if she had approved the sign, she quickly said “No,” and asked me to remove it. Done. Both of “our” signs went into the trash last night. Now I’m left to wonder if those Commisso signs all over town might have also been distributed and posted without explicit permission. Regardless, let’s hope they’re removed post-primary as quickly as they’ve appeared. They’re blocking my scenery.

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Local, politics, Uncategorized

Turn the page

As of 4:55 on a Wednesday in June, I no longer belong to the ranks of business owner – and it feels great. The transaction was as low-key and undramatic as are all of the involved parties. The deal was put together without realtor representation and the terms were easily agreed upon with minimal negotiation. I walked out of the attorney’s office downtown positively elated.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments in the past few months when I had twinges of regret and times when I had to fight against a feeling of having failed. Maybe if I had done X or Y differently, perhaps I needed to stick it out longer or make dramatic changes to achieve the level of success necessary to make remaining in business an appealing prospect. Ultimately though, I know this was the right move. I can return to what I do best and enjoy most – providing hospitality. Later, for you Quickbooks and Paychex. We’re officially over.

The experience of owning a business has been life changing. I tried something I never imagined doing. I stretched myself thinner than ever before and did not allow myself to get broken. It was more than, as I overheard one of my former employees say, “that old cliche, a waitress who thinks she can be an owner.” See, unlike the person who uttered that statement, I could be an owner. It just didn’t bring me joy and joy, not money, not ego, is the currency of my life.

I’m so excited to witness the success of Mio Posto and to play even a small part in that goal. I’ve worked a couple of nights already and Danny’s food is exactly at the level that I knew it would be – creative, high quality and composed with passion and professionalism. It’s wonderful. I wasn’t certain how it would feel to be “just” an employee, but I’m really happy to fill that role and to realize that my pride comes from providing guests with a memorable dining experience, not from signing paychecks.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Observations, Restaurants

Postscript L+L

There are so many thoughts and ideas bouncing around in my head about my experience as a business owner. It’s like too many, almost, and the words are choking me instead of flying out of my mouth. I can’t settle on where to start.

Other than with Day 1.

Waking up Saturday morning was different. The entire day ahead was completely my own and immediately it felt new. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had other days off when I had no professional responsibilities to address, but after knocking off the banking and the daily journal, there was nothing left for me to do, nothing further to take care of.

It was Day 1 of not owning a restaurant, the perfect day to begin processing the experience of owning a restaurant.

Well…

  • Owning a restaurant is like adopting a family.
  • Owning a restaurant is more stressful than you can ever imagine.
  • Owning a restaurant is unequal parts challenging and inspiring.
  • Owning a restaurant taught me so much.

Each of those above bullets deserves its own spotlight. Stay tuned.

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Filed under Local, musings, Observations, Restaurants, stress, Uncategorized

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