2.29.2012

Finally caught up with the owner of Virgil's and she's got good news

Hi folks,
At long last, I got to the bottom of the Virgil's mystery. I braved the SNOWPOCALYPSE (kidding) and walked over to the Henry Street cafe this afternoon to talk to owner Kathleen Quartararo (pronounced like quarter + arrow, fyi).
She says the 86 Henry St. location is, in fact, for rent, but she is not planning to close Virgil's. In December, Quartararo decided not to renew her five-year lease because she wasn't prepared to make  that long a commitment to the location. (She also owns the Inn of Ballston Spa which she has run alone ever since her mother died suddenly in '09 and her two high school-aged sons are heading to college soon, both factors contributing to her reluctance to sign a long lease)
So, her landlords (who she says are great) are keeping Quartararo and Virgil's on as a month-to-month tenant while they look for someone to sign a longer lease and she looks for a new space. She said she's got a few places in mind and hopes to have an announcement in the next couple weeks about a new Virgil's location, which will likely be downtown.
"We're here for as long as they don't sign someone else," she said.

She assured me that business at Virgil's is good, in fact the 5-year-old cafe is having its best February on record. Quartararo said business is picking up for a variety of reasons: she brought a restaurant consultant into the cafe over the summer who helped her streamline the look and feel of the front counter and the cafe rescinded its strict no-technology policy months ago.
The no cell phones and laptop rule was keeping some of her regulars from coming in more often and from bringing in their spouses, she said. The final straw was when one of her favorite customers told her she'd come in more often if her husband, an author, was allowed to bring his laptop to work on his latest book.
Since the policy change, "it's just been really chill," Quaratararo said. "People are still respectful ... I was surprised how nice it is."
Originally, Quartarao was desperately seeking respite from technology at Virgil's. A previous job at AT&T had left her feeling overwhelmed and over-saturated by technology. A few years later, though, she's ready to let technology into the cafe, as long as her cafe is still unique among downtown coffee/sandwich spots.
When Virgil's moves to its new location (she wouldn't give me any hints as to where that might be), Quartararo says her business model won't change much. She will continue "to try to make sure that we position ourselves a little bit differently" than other similar spots downtown.

So there you have it.

Care to weigh in on where you think Virgil's might be headed or what type of business would be well-suited to take over the Henry Street spot?

-- Emily

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope it stays in Saratoga....We love the ambience - like the old beloved Madeline's Coffee House that was on Broadway... The site of a fictional murder mystery book written Matt Witten.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 2:25:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love Kathleen and will follow her anywhere!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 5:14:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He wouldn't be allowed to write in Virgil's-unless it was long-hand. I like the no cell phone rule, because I really don't need to know someone's personal business, but laptops? Kinda drives people to other spots-seems like a weird business model for the 21st Century...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 6:11:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the last post - did you read the article? they allow laptops


I wish Kathleen the best. she is truly one of a kind as is Virgil's

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 7:38:00 PM 

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