Crisan to close cafe

Crisan front window 2013 October

Updated at 3:40 pm: We spoke with Crisan's owners about the changes coming to the bakery in the new year.

News from Lark Street today: Crisan, the bakery that has become part of the neighborhood fabric over the last six years, will be closing its cafe. Neighbors were notified this weekend that starting January 1 the bakery will close its storefront and focus on wholesale orders and weddings and custom cakes.

From the note: "What was once a place to socialize, to ponder, to read and to work, will be transformed into a cake decorating workspace and a private tasting room." (An image of the full note is after the jump.)

Though the cafe portion of the business is closing, owner Claudia Crisan Calabria and her husband Iggy Calabria emphasize they're not closing the bakery itself and its products will still be available.

They took a few minutes to talk with us about their decision.

Thumbnail image for Crisan exterior 2013 October"We believe in this neighborhood. We live here and we love the people here," said Claudia.

But they both agreed it was time for a change. They said the popularity of the bakery and cafe was wonderful, but overwhelming. If they were going to grow, they say, they needed to focus.

"It's a lot of work, a lot of energy," said Claudia, "and we were spreading ourselves too thin. Which is very hard to say and to acknowledge and be OK, but something had to give and this is what had to give. It took us forever to actually have the guts to do it, because we just think of everybody, we think of the regulars that come in and they are so wonderful."

But, Iggy said, they're not going away. "The product will be here and we will have hours during the day for pick up. Birthday cakes, platters, anniversaries -- any kind of cakes."

Iggy said customers will be able to order platters or even a dozen croissants to pick up. "We want to be clear that that is not going away. We are not closing -- this is our career and we love our kitchen."

He's got good things to say about other other cafes on the street now -- "There's Stacks, which has the best espresso, and The Brakes" -- and ays they're considering trying to get some of their products into existing neighborhood cafes. They're also working with Honest Weight and other select outlets and restaurants to get their desserts on menus.

The Lark Street storefront will become a display window for cakes. It will have a tasting area and a climate-controlled decorating room in which Claudia can make some of the fancier cakes, which is what she's always hoped to do.

Crisan employees a number of students -- Claudia and Iggy they say they will keep them on staff -- and Claudia compares this change to going to school.

"You work for a few years doing this and that and then you declare a major." So Crisan is majoring in cakes.

"I want to make pretty things... beautiful things," she smiles, "that's what I do."

Crisan note.jpg

____

Earlier on AOA: Interesting in 2008: Crisan's Claudia Calabria

Comments

I am so sorry to hear this. I love the Crisan storefront and always appreciate the opportunity to stop in for an after-lunch espresso and treat. I hope this helps them grow their cake business, but it is a huge loss to the streetscape on Lark.

First, DeJohns, Hot Dog Heaven, now Crisan??

Center Square really needs more businesses and unique restaurants. I encourage any business owners to think about relocating to Lark Street.

Dreadful news.

With insanely conceived parking restrictions, the city made it impossible for people to patronize local businesses in those areas. Businesses are moving away to Broadway, up New Scotland, etc. Truth is, residents of Center Square are not enough to keep dozens of businesses alive. Either the business rents/taxes/licensing etc go down significantly, or businesses will continue to move out. Lark St is a great business artery. I only hope that it survives misguided urban planning.

Oh nooooooo!

If by "insanely conceived parking restrictions" you mean the newish 2 hour parking only without a resident permit, I am not sure if that is the culprit. I do not live in the neighborhood, nor do I have a parking permit, and I have found it easier to find a spot during the day since the permits were instituted. I think there is more movement of cars rather than cars staying in one place near stores all day.

I was, frankly, shocked when I moved here to find such a system wasn't in place. Everyplace else I have lived, which include cities of comparable size, has a system like this in areas with a lot of businesses.

I am horribly upset about the close of Crisan, even though it likely means they are now getting enough custom business to stay afloat with just that.

Very sad news, but they will still be there with a new incarnation.

I'm not sure how anyone could think that parking factors into this. The permit system moves more cars throughout the day, thus allowing more people in cars to patronize Center Square businesses. Short of wholesale demolition to turn center square into a suburban strip mall, I really don't know what "Joe A" is proposing.

This is a terrible waste of an attractive, transactional business on Lark Street. It's storefront will be as lively as a single lawyer's law firm occupying the space. They might just as well move to warehouse or basement.

OK, enough bitching about Lark Street dying.

From here on out, let's hear everyone's thoughts on how to fix it.

Sad news, but I hope their gelato is still sold at the Honest Weight (about 8 flavors sold currently).

I agree that parking during the day has become more available than in former times because of the new parking permit system.

@Brendan

Stop going to Starbucks and go to Daily Grind/The Brakes instead.

Stop going to Chipotle and go to El Mariachi and El Loco instead.

Stop going to Whole Foods and go to Lark Natural Foods instead.

So, the owners of this business make it abundantly clear why they've decided to do something different, and everyone reacts with their preconceived notions and personal agendas that have nothing to do with that. And that's why we can't have nice things.

It feels like they're breaking up with us, Carl. No one's saying they can't do what they want, it just sucks.

well, I can't say I'm happy about this, but I also understand wanting to do what you love. I'll be going there as much as possible before they close the cafe, and probably will be picking up the odd cookie platter from here on out...

Now, to figure out what I'll do on my lunch walks in January and beyond... ;)

It is a damaging loss to the community and, in some ways, a dismissal of what made Crisan what it is today. The beauty and success of the business is the people who work there and the people who frequent the special cafe. That word of mouth was what built the business. Businesses that lose sight of what works and focus elsewhere seldom make it over time. I hope Crisan gets better business advice and quickly comes up with a more viable solution for the sake of their success as well. Find someone to run the café portion so Ms. Calabria can focus on cake. Very disappointing decision for a neighborhood that needs Crisan's café and has been there for the bakery as the bakery has been there for the community. This decision, unfortunately, will hurt the neighborhood and is not likely to be a good business decision. Really shocked. So many neighborhood businesses would have given anything for the level of success with their café and the loyalty that Crisan enjoyed.

@Anthony, my point was that people were once again arguing about parking, presuming that lack of business was the problem, when they made it quite clear that that wasn't the issue.

As a twentysomething grad student who lives in and embraces Center Square--I will miss this Lark institution, along with the loss of Hot Dog Heaven. I loved grabbing a couple of hotdogs to go, picking up the newspaper, and grabbing a little bottle of Bailey's to put in my Crisan coffee to pair with a pastry as a midweek treat.

Best of luck to the folks at Crisan for following their dream. I'm sad to see the cafe go, but it will be wonderful to still have access to their amazing creations in other venues and to be able to order their beautiful cakes for special occasions.

Yeah, Anthony has it right. I know this new set-up is better for the owners' family life, but we're still sad for us.

So that's why my dentist was so jolly today...

Glad to see they will still remain in business and have their treats available for pre-order. What will be truly sad is the loss of the convenience of Crisan. It appears that, even if their baked goods will still be available for pre-order, people won't be able to stop for a quick sweet treat or drop in last minute grab a small assortment elegant mini-pastries to bring over to bring over to a friend's house. I may not need to pre-order a tray of 12 croissants, but would love to be able to have just two. That's what I loved most about Crisan.

I am supersad also, but the prospect of being able to get Crisan from a place like honest weight may decrease that sadness. My question is, will we be able to get more than just gelato? I think selling single-serving pastries wholesale to places like the co-op, like many other local sweets businesses already do would be awesome for everyone. We'd still get pastries and theyd get more space and time to make it in!

Devastated! While I wish them well with their new focus I will now have to find a new birthday tradition just one year after I started the "old" one!!!

Taking a stroll down Lark and having super special birthday "lunch" at Crisan was a highlight for my daughter and I this past year. Guess now I'll have to order the whole cake!! :)

Ah well, change is inevitable.

Good Luck Crisan!!

Of course, I "get it", and it makes abundant sense for the owners, and I will still order my cakes and pastry trays... but i am still very disappointed. Crisan's was an upscale, urban venue the likes of which are generally absent from the region. It was a "treat" to be able to go there to have a coffee and truly world class pastry. It was a level of sophistication that isn't matched by any of the neighboring businesses. Wish they would have "spun off" the retail space and service to one of their students instead of closing it or moved it to an adjoining space so they could have the additional room they apparently need for cake decorating/client meetings, etc.

Yeah, I know jsc. We were saying at dinner tonight that Crisan isn't one of those places that is "nice for Albany." It is a place that is nice period, and we were just lucky enough to have it in Albany. I have never been to any other pastry shop with quite the selection, variety and interest, all at a reasonable price, even in the big cities.

S has it right. There isn't a very long list of places that aren't just "good for Albany" but "good, period".

Losing one of them is a tragedy, even if the bakery isn't lost for good. The cafe was a charming spot where one could rid themselves from the gloom of winter with vibrant colors, and bright flavors that had the power to transport visitors to a happier place.

It will be missed (surely by both patrons and proprietors).

So bummed I didn't get a heads up on this. I loved the place!

I've never been good at thinking ahead for desserts on specials occasions. Crisan was my lifeboat.

Now, if I need an assortment of something, I'll be going to Cheesecake Machismo instead.

I hope Crisan continues to get a lot of business. But without the walk-in customers and word of mouth by them, I worry.

Update: Stacks on Lark is now providing goods from Crisan. As of this morning, they had various croissants, chocolate croissants, etc. And Cider Belly Doughnuts during the weekend, as usual. Boom.

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