"It's been a whirlwind," said Kari Browne, one half of the working-mom-of-two-duo that own , which opened its doors for business in Ditmas Park on July 13.
Browne noted the outpouring of support from neighbors and strangers has made the journey all the more worthwhile. "It's exhausting and rewarding all at the same time," she said. "I'm running on adrenaline right now. The daily emails [from supporters] and interactions are my fuel.
Lark's opening has also marked a shift on Church Avenue. "In the past, I feel like I didn't see a lot of foot traffic on this strip," Browne said. "We don't mean to belittle any other businesses on Church Avenue; there are many fantastic businesses already here. But it's great to bring this to Church."
The kid-friendly cafe located at 1007 Church Avenue is a blend of coffee lounge chic and playtime gymboree, allowing kids to bounce around without being reprimanded and parents to enjoy a good cup of coffee. "There's a different kind of code around here," Browne said. "Kids don't have to sit in a chair and sit still and not make a noise."
The cafe sees a mix of patrons, from commuters coming in to grab a coffee on their way to work, to friends meeting for a sandwich at lunch time, to parents with their children eager to participate in the daily activities geared toward a younger audience.
"We had no idea what was going to happen once we opened our doors," she said. "We were overtaken by such excitement and I just feel so grateful and humbled that our neighborhood and the community have supported us."
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While the Cafe is still in its infancy, Browne and her business partner, co-owner Lori Kranczer are still thinking of ways to improve the business. "We didn't want to bite off more than we could chew and we have a running wishlist," Brown said.
"We have six [people] on staff but we're looking to hire more," she continued. "We want to expand the menu eventually and we're getting requests for specialty items, like baguettes and cheeses; sort of a market setup."
The cafe is also adjusting its hours, remaining open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, but extending its hours on Friday and Saturday to an 8 p.m. closing, and pushing its opening hours back to 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
And at almost all times will you find Browne here, greeting patrons, managing staff and doing anything that needs to be done to ensure a smooth workday.
The hours are long, the work is challenging and has only just begun, but when asked if Browne would change anything, she is adamant that she would not.
"I get home for [my children's] bedtime every night and that's important to me," she said. "It's essentially one of the reasons I started this business-- to be able to get home for bedtime."
But in addition to giving Browne the opportunity to balance home and work, the cafe has afforded her a refreshing perspective of the neighborhood and borough as a whole.
"What's really cool about being in Brooklyn, about being in New York, is that you can have an idea, decide to act on it, get the support you need and make it happen," she said. "It's rare to see a business start from scratch, and this is all possible from the support we've had."