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Three Years in Troy

November 10, 2015

I probably should have told you yesterday that last night Lucas Confectionery would be celebrating its third anniversary.


There’s always a lot of stuff going on in the Capital Region, despite what her detractors might say. Last night was no exception. But there was no way that I was going to miss celebrating with Vic and Heather this stunning achievement.

In part because the Troy wine bar’s ongoing success is a reminder of just how wrong I was, and its evolution is nothing short of amazing.

For those who may not remember, the first time I walked into 12 Second Street it was still a work in progress. I knew who Vic Christopher was, but we had never met. And I was casually following this reclamation project over Facebook. It was interesting, but it never really inspired me to action until I saw pictures of Vic taking apart the guts of a vintage espresso machine.

That was a whole different level of crazy. And that was the kind of crazy that I had to meet.

So, I went down there, and we had a fantastic conversation where I learned all about him, his love for his wife, his love for Troy, and his strong desire to do something for himself. I loved his vision for creating the wine bar as a third space, and I thought the way he was going about it was smart. That is to say that he bought the building, was putting in a ton of sweat equity, and using as much reclaimed material as possible.

All the same, I told Vic at the time he was crazy for building a wine bar in Troy.

At the time, Troy wasn’t exactly a wine kind of of town. But I was wrong. Because soon after opening, the place was mobbed. It was so packed that I realized I could only truly enjoy it as a peaceful place to enjoy a nice glass of wine, or some chocolate truffles, or a cup of coffee, was on Monday or Tuesday nights. The rest of the week it was jammed.

I’m sure the glowing review in the Times Union didn’t hurt, which spent a lot of time on the strength of the cheese and charcuterie selection provided by The Cheese Traveler. Of course, there was some discussion whether or not a wine bar should even be considered a restaurant at all.

Then Vic and Heather bought the adjacent building, which was about to either fall down or be demolished. But they saved the building, and created a plan for growth.

First the wine bar got an outside patio. Eventually that patio got a retractable roof, so it could be a four season patio, and that was super cool. Now there was more space for all the people trying to squeeze into the Lucas Confectionery.

When the renovations on the building began to take shape, part of it turned into The Grocery, and there was much rejoicing. I never did get a chance to try one of its grilled cheese sandwiches. Now people had a place where they could buy the cheeses they tried at the wine bar, so they could enjoy them at home in pajamas.

Every expansion made me nervous. Each new venture would by definition require more attention, which would draw focus away from the wine bar. And nothing made me more nervous than the opening of a bona fide restaurant, Peck’s Arcade. You know the old joke, right? How do you make a small fortune in the restaurant business?

You start with a large one.

It’s a brutal business. But Peck’s is invariably one of the best restaurants in the Capital Region. And in just a couple of days, Vic and Heather will be opening up a brand new wine store in another building down the block on second street.

These two just don’t stop. And you know what? I’m no longer nervous about them diverting attention away from their successful ventures to launch a new one. Sure, The Grocery didn’t quite work out, but the team is making adjustments.

So much has happened in three years, it makes my head spin. Not least of which is that Lucas Confectionery’s success (and the success of its offshoots), has inspired other great businesses to open in downtown Troy. The culinary landscape in the region has been improved because of it.

Soon, I imagine, Vic will be tearing something else down, or perhaps he and Hector will be restoring another neighborhood building. Heather will have her hands full getting the new wine store off the ground.

But last night, it was like old times. The two of them were doing their thing side-by-side at the wine bar, and it felt good. I’m glad I got to be there and toast their success. Still, I wish fewer people would go, for my own selfish motives. But I’ve been busier these days too, so it’s probably for the best.

I can’t wait to see what kind of changes the next three years will bring, because if a wine bar can be successful in Troy, pretty much anything is possible.

One Comment leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    November 13, 2015 3:37 am

    Hear Hear. (here here?). It is amazing what they have accomplished. I renovate old houses for a living and what Vic does is just mind blowing. And Heather is a sweetheart and makes everyone feel like a friend while running the show, seemingly effortlessly. AND they have the business chops to run multiple successful businesses. They are amazing and Troy is certainly the better for it. I do worry that they take on so crazy much, but they have proven all of us naysayers wrong.

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