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The Walking Dead

July 7, 2017

There’s a reason that I got my fathead sandwich from The Flying Chicken last week. It was because I suspected something might go wrong in the last 48 hours and I might not be able to make it into the restaurant.

My plan last night was to grab some chicken after the event at Albany Center Gallery. And everything was going well, until I checked Facebook to see that the restaurant had sold out of chicken for the night.

Good for them. Bad for me.

I suppose I could have gone for chicken instead of attending Creative Restauranteurs: A Conversation at Albany Center Gallery. But the panel featured Vic Christopher, Corey Nelson, and Ric Orlando who were there to support the photography exhibition created by Richard Lovrich. And dammit, I was curious to hear what they were going to say and I really enjoy Richard’s portraits.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the surprise special guest.

Claudia Crisan was part of the panel too, which was wonderful to see. Typically, Claudia has been behind the scenes at her amazing European style bakery in Albany, so it was fantastic to have her front and center. Plus her presence expanded the scope and the nature of the conversation.

What struck me about this panel is that three of the four entrepreneurs started off as artists. Vic was a filmmaker. Ric was a musician, and continues to play. Claudia trained at the Royal College of Art in London, and her desire is to spend more time creating wearable art..

Corey is all about business, and I love his get it done attitude. And maybe that’s not fair, because he’s also all about community, and supporting the creative people in the area.

The discussion started off with a lot of cheerleading about how the Capital Region has been a magnet for creative people. And it’s true. But Claudia helped to bring the conversation back down to earth and make it real.

I loved hearing this panel and the audience at the event struggle with some of the themes I have been pursuing on the FLB for the past few year. Namely, why isn’t food better in the Capital Region?

Well, to hear Claudia tell it, what this area needs is more foot traffic.

And that’s interesting. Ric echoed her sentiment by reinforcing the fact that Albany is very much a nine to five kind of town. People flee the city when it’s time to go home. So much so, that when chef Ric was walking over to the event from Prime last night, he was one of the only people on the sidewalk.

This has flabbergasted me for a long time. It’s true, that part of me loves walking around Albany in the evening, and feeling like I have all this grand architectural beauty all to myself. But it also kind of kills me.

On one hand, the downtowns of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy are a lot more walkable than most people think. But there isn’t a culture of walking. Not too long ago, Albany put up signs demonstrating just how many minutes one had to walk in a certain direction to get to an interesting local destination. And I thought those were particularly clever.

But there are definitely dead zones that segment neighborhoods within the city.

Uber and Lyft might work to bridge the gap. Downtown Albany was experimenting with a free shuttle service this summer. But I think some of the best ideas to make downtowns more walkable are the opening of new businesses.

Vic’s reopening of the Bradley Tavern in Troy helped to liven up a stretch of 4th street just south of the Green Island bridge, that felt barren and inhospitable. And the new Slidin’ Dirty creates a destination on an important corner of downtown Schenectady.

The north end of Lark Street could really use something too, to help bring more people by Claudia’s shop. Because Lark itself has Berben and Wolff’s which is doing gangbusters, Stacks is often crowded, and the south end of the street is alive with newer businesses like Savoy Taproom, 3Fish Coffee, and Timmy’s.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if there is foot traffic on the north end of Lark Street unless Claudia reopens the cafe. So it was kind of curious to hear her talking about such things.

So I asked her about it at the end of the discussion, and she really misses the cafe.

To be clear, there are currently no plans to bring it back or convert her tasting room space into what was once one of my favorite places to sit and enjoy a little transformative moment of happiness. But I am encouraged that the possibility might exist at some point in the future.

In the meantime, I happened to stumble upon this blurb on the Crisan website, “When not in use the Tasting Room is open to reserve for those seeking exclusive privacy when indulging in our tableside dessert service.”

I might need to follow up and learn more about this. Maybe we can even get a few people together for a grand dessert feast. But more than anything, I want the Crisan Cafe open once again on Lark Street. And if I need to figure out a way to get more people walking around Downtown Albany to do it, well I’m up for the challenge.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. OCtG permalink
    July 7, 2017 12:58 pm

    I would have preferred if last night’s panel were limited to the original 3.
    I could listen to Cory, Ric or Vic all night long.
    Last night’s convo seemed to dwell on some negative issues a bit much.

    But by far, my highlight of the night was meeting the Profusser himself.

  2. Chuck permalink
    July 7, 2017 6:45 pm

    Discussing problems with smart and influential people is actually a good way to come up with good solutions. Wearing blinders isn’t.

  3. chrisck permalink
    July 12, 2017 2:48 pm

    I hope the new Croatian restaurant on the northern end of Lark creates some interest. It’s called the Slavonian European Café. I stopped in to check out the menu and there are some dishes from my childhood there. My 85 yr. old father was excited when I told them they serve Palatschinken (a Central European crepe).

    • July 12, 2017 10:13 pm

      Omg! Palatschinken! I think I had some while traveling in Vienna back in 1993. Thanks for posting this tip. I will have to check out this new cafe.

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