Bringing it all home
In April 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic forced us to shut down our restaurant, Lark, we began thinking about how to serve our customers in this difficult time.
We had recently bought a building just down the block that we were planning to convert into two restaurants -- one a family-style pizza and pasta place and the other a bar with gourmet sandwiches. Needless to say, opening a restaurant under the circumstances didn't seem like a wise decision.
But we had this beautiful building, sitting empty, and we have a really talented culinary staff that we wanted to get back to work. So Lark Market was born in June. It wasn't a totally new idea. We had been talking about opening a gourmet cheese and wine shop for years. But in May, as people were starting to get burned-out on their own cooking and takeout burgers, it seemed there was an opportunity to offer something that combined gourmet specialty store with farm-to-table deli.
So we took half of the Janesville Floral building and did some painting, scrubbing of the old masonry floor, replacing the dated light fixtures, updating some wiring, and adding coolers. The shelving was already there. We already had a lot of the furniture, collected from flea markets, auctions, and estate sales over the years. Getting started didn't cost all that much.
We started making lists of all the regional products that we love that we couldn't find in Janesville, like Potter's Crackers, Quince & Apple, Gail Ambrosius, quality artisan cheese, and the funky liquors that make up so many of our favorite cocktails. It's so great to work with all these small companies and help them reach a wider audience. It's also great when we introduce our customers to new products and hear how they're using them and get suggestions on new things to carry.
If you're in business, you've probably heard the word "pivot" a lot the last few months. The pandemic forced us to pivot, but in a way that we really love. Lark Market has enabled us to connect with the community in a new way. In March, we could have never envisioned opening a new business in the middle of a pandemic. Just a few months later, it feels like it was inevitable.
Our new online storefront will hopefully make it easier to explore what we have to offer and place your orders ahead of time. We plan to add some shipping options in the future, but to start we will happily place your order in your trunk if you would prefer to avoid shopping in person.
We're excited for the future. Sometimes, the brightest ideas come during the darkest times.