For the Love of Wine closing/ From the Garden farm to table opening

Old House Cafe.jpg

For the Love of Wine owners Kristen Williams and Allan Von Schenkel are planning a farm-to-table wine cafe for this space on Lark Street.

This Friday For the Love of Wine, the wine shop that opened a few years ago in Crossgates, will be closing its doors -- temporarily.

The owners -- musicians and food and wine lovers Kristen Williams and her husband Allan Von Schenkel -- are looking for a new location in Albany. In the meantime, they're uncorking some other plans.

Williams and Von Schenkel are planning to open From The Garden, a farm-to-table restaurant and wine cafe, in the former Old House Cafe on Lark Street. They're both sommeliers, but this is their first time serving food -- professionally, at least.

For the love of wine sale.jpg

"We're Anthony Bourdain kind of people," says Von Schenkel. "We think of food as kind of an adventure. You always want it to be an experience." They've never run a restaurant before, but that doesn't seem to worry Von Schenkel too much. "We've been cooks in our own home and for years we've been throwing extravagant parties, so it's our first time being a restaurant, but not exactly."

Kristen and Allan For the Love of Wine.jpg (Photo: Andy Kainz)

But running a restaurant is a far cry from cooking for guests in your home. Kristen Williams says running a wine shop was new to them five years ago, and like they did back then, they plan to keep the scale small at first. "The vision is small right now. Small plates, not grand dinners. And we'll be hiring people who have experience working in kitchens, but it's our vision." The focus at From the Garden will be on local farm foods. "We live out in Westerlo," says Allan Von Schenkel and we're working with about nine farms in our area, so we'll have a lot of really fresh things." Among the farms they'll be working with: Eight Mile Creek Farm and Goats and Gourmets.

For the love of wine allan and kristen 2.jpgPhoto: Andy Kainz)

They're hoping to have a reservation based system and a limited menu -- about five menu items at a time, with a separate vegetarian menu. The inspiration behind the cafe is Damon Baehrel's Basement Bistro in Earlton, but Von Schenkel says, less expensive. "We'll only be able to seat about 35 people at time, and the menu will be limited, but we're hoping to be able to offer a $10 entree. I hope it's economically feasible." Some of the entrees they're considering: empanadas using local red tail venison with slow cooked meets and vegetarian fillings, brisket and cheese and chocolate tastings.

The couple just got word that their wine and beer license has been approved. Von Schenkel says they'll be offering an affordable wine list and they're considering bringing in one local craft brewer. He's also looking at doing flights of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The non-alcoholic flights will include items such as lychee drinks and Sicilian lemonade. One of their plans is to offer a free tasting flight with every reservation.

The big focus, says Von Schenkel, will be on local and affordable. He says the wine shop has always been focused on finding the best wine in the $10 to $20 range and they're hoping to do something similar with From the Garden. The restaurant has been in the works for about three years, and employees at For the Love of Wine, whom he describes as their FLOW family, will be working on this new project with them.

Von Schenkel says his biggest concerns, at least right now, are equipment oriented. "Are we buying the right kind of $8,000 oven, the right kind of cuvenee system for the wine. We're talking with a lot of professionals about our plans."

There is, of course, already a wine bar on Lark Street -- just on the next block. Von Schenkel says they're not concerned.

"We're only going to be able to seat 35 or so and our menu will be very limited, so we won't be competing with big places like Yono's. It's great that there are other wine bars in the Capital Region. It would be great if there were five wine bars. The wonderful thing about Lark Street is that people will go to different places."

They're hoping to open From the Garden in January. The plan is to open Wednesday through Sunday evenings, and to extend their hours in the summer.

Find It

From the Garden
227 Lark Street
Albany , NY 12210


I think this would be an excellent addition to the neighborhood. Yes, there may be the Lark Wine Bar down the block, but I think there is a untapped market of folks like me who would prefer a more quiet atmosphere (i.e. not going out to get drunk and be raucous) and caters to those who have a greater appreciation of wine than beer (though, my appreciation for beer isn't far off either). Furthermore, with Lark Wine and Bistro on the market, it may not be around when it finds a new owner.

I'm very excited about this new space. I can't wait to try it... was just mentioning to my roommate last night how much I miss going out for a bottle of wine and splitting a good cheese platter at the wine bar at an affordable price. Fingers crossed that this is the new space for that.

I'm so excited for Kristen and Allan...I've shopped in For the Love of Wine many times and they are the NICEST people...they know their stuff! I can only expect the same high quality service from their new venture and wish them the best of luck!

I went into their wine shop only once. The wines I was looking at weren't priced and the rack didn't have pricing either. I asked Von Schenkel for a couple prices. He rudely said to me that if price was my primary concern, it probably wasn't the wine shop for me. I never returned. What a pretentious snob.

They had a painting hanging on the wall near the entrance that my wife and I liked very much. After attending one of their tasting sessions, we approached Allan afterward and asked how much it was selling for. He gave us a price and we went home to think about it. I then found myself in the mall that weekend and dropped in again to verify the price. Guess what? It changed.

Fast forward two weeks later and I'm at the mall again. I drop in and ask the price.... it changed AGAIN (now more expensive than the previous two).

Fast forward another two weeks where I purposely dropped in just because I wanted to see if it would change one more time. Sure enough, it did! I don't know what exactly my point is, but the whole experience dealing with them felt a little bit... hmm... dishonest.

I for one can't wait until the cafe opens. Though I don't think it will immediately alleviate my lack of crisan in the winter problem... *le sigh* :)

Ive known Allen and Kristen for a few years now and my girlfriend and I have attended wine class MANY times. We love the store and im sure we will LOVE the new place. To the guy who doesn't understand sarcastic humor, im sorry but Allen is right. FLOW offered wine from all over the world at reasonable prices. If youre looking for Barefoot, Yellowtail or other chemical wines, you're in the wrong place :) Best of luck to them in their new home!

This could be good for the neighborhood...or if the business decides it can't hack it as a restaurant (which it seems it would be zoned for, as opposed to a bar) and decides to operate as an after-hours night club or tavern (as a few Lark businesses have done), it could tip the balance even more toward the negative.

My fiance and I just went and bought every last bottle of our favorite wine! Very sad to see this place closing. We were never disappointed by any recommendation they made.

Excited to try the new place though!

I, too, think a small plate wine bar is a good addition to the neighborhood. However, it is Interesting that the owners have received their wine and beer approval (whatever happened to the SLA 500 ft. rule from a church?), but have not approached any of the neighborhood associations to tell them about their plans. And, since the grandfather for wine and beer has sunset at that location, where is the Special Use Permit Application that should have a BZA public hearing? Indicates their lack of knowledge about operating in a high-density, residential area.

I spoke to the owners and they say the focus is on the food and not on drinking.

I am so excited about the wine bar opening! I need an affordable place to have some food, conversation, and wine (notice how I don't want noise). Also, who cares what wine costs!? It's art, not booze. Everyone should enjoy the best that they can afford :D

Thank you, Allan and Kristen for making a home away from home for me. You guys are the best

I'm super excited for Allan and K. I've known them since the beginning of For Love of Wine. They're incredibly knowledgeable about the wines, and they're very passionate about what they do. I'm looking forward to the opening of From the Garden, I'm confident that the food will be tasty and I know I'll be able to enjoy wines I won't find anywhere else. Hopefully they can open for New Year's Eve... gladly take my friends there to enjoy an intimate start to 2013 with the people I care about most.

PS, Spencer, your comment surprises me. Perhaps you misunderstood-- wine price is not the primary concern for finding and purchasing wines, it's flavor. The importance of flavor has always been the main focus of their wine selection, and the shop was organized... not by price or region... but by the flavor. It isn't pretentious to ask what your taste preferences before picking a wine based on price range, and it's rude to assume otherwise.

If they are looking for a chef I would love to be a part of it

Hate to see For the Love of Wine closing its doors at Crossgate. It was sooo convenient for me to shop there, attend wine tasting classes, etc. But I am also happy that Allan and K will be starting a new venture on Lark Street. I've always found them to be very knowledgeable and have always been able to depend on them to recommend wines that suit my tastes. They are very astute business people and although they haven't had a lot of experience with the food aspect, they are consulting with people who are experienced. I look forward to becoming a regular at the new location and hopefully will reconnect with some os the nice people I've met at For The Love of Wine. Best wishes for success, Allan and Kristen!!!

We've been fans of For Love of Wine since the beginning, and Kristen and Alan could not be friendlier or more knowledgable! We wish them all the best in their new venture, and we look forward to many delicious meals with the perfect wine accompaniment!

Steph, good tips about how Allan and K should probably talk to more people. I'm sure it would be helpful in many ways. I've heard some people already assuming it was going to be a bar... which isn't accurate. But the stuff you mentioned is important to the learning experience of getting this place going. :)

Sean, when you asked about the price of the paintings the second and third time, did you mention they quoted a different price before or did you say nothing about the previous price? Maybe they forgot or the prices just changed-- that's allowed to happen. If it were me, I'd always ask.

Man, I'm going to miss this store. I came in today when they were packing up and taking down the shelving and my heart sank. I picked up two bottles of wine-- the Freisa D'Asti-- and I still have Primobacio at home. The best. I brought a bottle of the Freisa to my aunt on Thanksgiving and we enjoyed that!

I have also known Kristen and Allan since the beginning of FLOW. They are truly wonderful people and I am excited for them to open their new restaurant on lark street, From the Garden.

Steph: From the Garden is NOT a bar, rather it is a restaurant, SLA rules regarding bars do not apply to restaurants, hence why they have a slew of rules for restaurants only, and a separate slew of rules for bars.

Frank Greene: I don't think they would have permission to be a night club, nor do I believe they intend on becoming one.

All in all I'm very excited about the opening odd From the Garden and I wish Kristen and Allan the best of luck in their new endeavor :-)

I am looking forward to the new cafe! I think it will be a nice change to the same old same old on Lark. FLOW was a hidden gem and it will be exciting to see where the store can grow. Thank you Allen and Kristen for your knowledge and help. Cheers!

@ Margaret - the majority of my amusement / befuddlement came from the fact that each time I visited their store, I reminded them of the previous price they quoted me, to which they vehemently denied and assured me the prices were fixed. Very strange, considering it consistently changed. There was no misdirection going on either - I was quite forthcoming with the growing situation each and every time I went in. I also bought wine from them a bunch of times, so you can write off the idea of them trying to scare off a pesky non-customer.

@Spencer: Sorry about your experience. When I went in soon after opening, Allen and Kristen were extremely helpful.. if I recall, very few bottles were priced above $20 to give a wide variety of good wines.

Allen and Kristen, I wish you the best. When I went for your tastings, you always seemed to know what you were talking about with wine. I have a feeling you have the same knack for food. When I visit, I will be sure to come, and I wish you all the best!

Allan & Kristen are very knowledgeable, and have great passion and palates. My wife and I will surely be regulars, enjoying the fresh farm small plates, and wines from all over the world. What a totally fun place to spend an evening!

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