2 Restaurants in Albany for sale

I don't get out to eat as much used to, but when I do, I try to find spots in my Albany neighborhood to frequent.  For many of the restaurants near Lark Street in Albany, it's hit or miss - some thrive, others dive, and new places open up all the time - and sadly, a few of my favorites are leaving.

If there's one thing I've learned while living in the neighborhood known as "center square", a litany of city issues make it hard for businesses to thrive in Albany.

Ali Celik, owner and chef of two neighboring restaurants in Albany - Villa di Como and 288 Lark Wine & Tap - is putting the businesses and real estate up for sale according to an article in Albany Business Review.

As beautiful, eccentric, and historic as the neighborhoods near Lark Street are, it comes with a price.  Crime, the mental illness homelessness problem, and the inconsistent ebb and flow of foot traffic make it hard to sustain a living, even for the area's most talented chefs.

Package deal

"If someone wants to buy both, we'll do a package deal," Celik told the Albany Business Review.

According to the source, the upper two floors of 288 Lark St. both have upscale apartments and he's selling the properties for $1.39 million each.

Celik opened up the Wine Bar in June 2019, and Villa di Como in 2020, just a few days before New York State shut down during the pandemic.

Despite the hardships, Villa di Como was always excellent - without a doubt one of my favorite places in town for authentic Italian dishes, made with love and presented with perfection.

attachment-288 lark 2
Two of Celik's properties on Lark Street in Albany - are currently for sale

Celik's special talents extend beyond the kitchen, and often he'd walk around the dining room taking time to talk with each one of the guests.

Vandalized statue

In April, someone vandalized one of the two beautiful statues that adorned the front of his properties, smashing it to pieces in the middle of the night.

"It just hit me in my soft spot," he told the ABR. "It almost was like an attack on not only my business, my family but also to me since they were on the sidewalk and we shared it with the community," he said.

Reason for leaving

Celik told the Albany Business Review that he hopes to be able to focus on producing "larger quantities of the liquors and sauces he sells online and at farmers markets" as well as being able to spend more time with his family.

Celik will remain on Lark Street until he sells

With mixed emotions, I reached out to Celik personally to wish him well on his new venture, while also expressing how bummed I was to learn that he's looking to sell.

While he appreciated the sentiments, Celik did remind me that selling the businesses could take a little while and that in the meantime, he'll still be there, adding, "We are still counting on our guests to keep us in business...so please come and visit."

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