Entertainment venues in New York are back open at 33 percent capacity. After more than a year of pandemic setbacks, that’s hitting a high note for Jennifer and Justin Miller, the owners of Lark Hall in Albany.
The husband and wife duo put in a lot of sweat equity to transform the 105-year-old Albany building into a place where the community can enjoy the serenity of yoga by day and rock out to local bands by night.
“I have a joke where I say, 'People go into their midlife crisis and buy a car or something.' Well, I renovated a building,” Justin Miller said with a laugh.
But it wasn’t easy. In 2018, they bought the historic venue, but last year, when they were in the middle of remodeling, the COVID-19 pandemic sent everything into lockdown.
“Then we went into a period of just rotating people. Like, we had one plumber here and he worked for five weeks, and then we had one electrician. So until they could all work together again, everything was real slow,” said Jennifer.
The Millers used the time to roll up their own sleeves. Justin, a full-time attorney, had to temporarily switch his brief case for a construction hat.
“I got to learn about about elevators, fire alarm systems, and bathrooms along the way. That was my COVID project,” he said.
Eventually, their blueprint for Lark Hall became a reality. However, because of social distancing guidelines, they had to get creative with the first set of performances.
“So we were opening these windows to the street and playing music out of the window,” Jennifer said.
The window sessions made it possible for bands to keep their sounds in tune during COVID and the community to enjoy live music at the time it was needed most.
Fast-forward to today with the new relaxation on restrictions, and they can now invite audiences indoors to enjoy local talent like Brian LaPoint & the Joints.
“It’s nice to have that validation that all this hard work was not for nothing,” said Jennifer.
“We are optimistic to see a summer where things are a little more normal,” added Justin.
The Millers say they are still taking things slow, so concerts are by invitation only until the start of the summer. To check performances and yoga class times, visit their website.