If you’ve been curious about what’s going into the storefront at 1007 Church Avenue, right next door to the new Am Thai Bistro, you’re not alone. Many of you have been asking, and we’re happy to report that local moms Kari Browne and Lori Kranczer are preparing to open a cafe called Lark there in just a couple months. Today they’re sharing some background about the business and a few hints about what we can expect, and this weekend they’ll be out at the Church Avenue Street Fair to meet neighbors and spread the word.
Kari and Lori found each other through a couple of neighborhood listservs. They each independently considered the idea of opening a family-friendly space, and Lori’s friends from the Cortelyou Moms group pointed her to a posting Kari had made about it on the Flatbush Family Network.
“I got an overwhelmingly positive response from probably about 60 people who wrote back encouraging the idea and pledging their loyalty if a place like this were to open,” Kari said. “It was so humbling and exciting to know that so many others wanted what we wanted.”
Their goal is to create a space that offers something for parents, kids, and everyone in between. The space will be designed so that kids have their own space, and they hope to create programming and events for kids and adults. They’re working on a menu that will include Stumptown coffee, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads. And, something extra exciting, they’ll be scooping Brooklyn’s Blue Marble ice cream from a dipping cabinet, so you can finally satisfy your good ice cream fix in the neighborhood.
“Just because you have a family, it shouldn’t mean you can’t enjoy the food and atmosphere you did when you were single,” Lori said. “It will be designed to be comfortable for everyone.”
“We want it to be the kind of place that we’d enjoy,” Kari said. “Where you can hang out with your kids, your friends, and your neighbors. There will be different things going on to appeal to many different people.”
“It’s the type of place that we want to go to,” said Lori. “And we hope other people will want to, as well.”
Because they wanted to create a place they weren’t finding in the area, they naturally looked at real estate close to home. They considered several locations around the neighborhood, but ultimately chose Church Avenue for many reasons. For one thing, it’s close to the Parade Ground, which hosts families throughout the year who could use a place to grab a bite to eat or hang out before or after a game. They say they also like the location because it can provide something for people who live near the borders of Kensington and Windsor Terrace, as well as for the all the residents from Prospect Park on south, who are looking for a comfortable space closer to them than Cortelyou.
“A lot of businesses might look to open where things are already happening, someplace like Cortelyou,” Kari said. “But we look at Church, and we can see the potential, and we know it’s worth taking the chance.”
As you know by now, that stretch of Church has been receiving a lot of attention lately, thanks to the efforts of the Church Avenue Business Improvement District to attract new businesses to the street. We’ve already seen one, Am Thai, open this year, and combined with the Uncover Church Avenue murals, it seems like Church is just beginning to grow.
“We started out simply trying to create a café space that we’d want to go to,” Lori said, “but it’s become a bit of a real estate revitalization project as well.”
“If you put good establishments there, people will be attracted to the area,” Kari said. “It may not be a very well-travelled street right now, but that’s because there aren’t many services there. It’s an untapped market. But it’s growing, and it will keep growing.”
“CAMBA and the BID have been very supportive of us from the very beginning,” said Kari, who has already been doing her part to support her new BID by serving as a member of the UCA Advisory Committee.
“There’s something special about this neighborhood,” she said. “The sense of community is so strong, between neighbors and between businesses. We’re looking forward to being a part of that as a business.”
Stay tuned for more details, but until then, Lori and Kari will be in front of Lark—a name they picked because it incorporates both of theirs, and because it brings in some of the imagery of our nearby park–handing out postcards and selling tote bags during the street fair this Sunday, April 29 from 12-6pm.
“We hope people will come by and say hi,” Kari said.